How to not tear your ACL this year
Anyone who’s ever torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knows how
painful and debilitating it can be. Stay injury-free this year with
these tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
Practice landing and changing direction safely. Always keep your knees directly
over your feet when jumping, landing, stopping or moving quickly.
Practice jumping and landing safely and softly with your knees bent,
your chest pushed forward and your buttocks pushed back.
Strengthen muscles. Strengthening your hip and thigh muscle can improve knee
support and prevent ligament injuries. Exercises to build hip and thigh
muscles include squats and lunges or the use of rubber band-type
Warm up and stretching before exercising. Warm up to
prepare to exercise, even before stretching. Run in place for a few
minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of
the exercise to follow. Warming up increases your heart and blood flow
rates and loosens up other muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle
tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then slowly and
carefully release it. Do each stretch only once. Never stretch to the
point of pain, always maintain control and never bounce on a muscle
that is fully stretched.
Use proper equipment. Replace your athletic shoes as they wear out.
Did you know?
- The knee has four main ligaments, including the ACL, which connect the femur (upper leg bone) to the tibia (lower leg bone).
- While the ACL can rupture or tear due to a direct blow to the knee, more than 70 percent of these injuries do not involve contact at all, and can occur from a simple misstep. These injuries often happen when the athlete lands in a flat-footed position, sometimes when decelerating too quickly, while the knee is straight.
- Women, who have unique knee characteristics, are three times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men.