Athletes, listen up! That sport you love to play may place you at greater risk for sustaining an ACL injury. Sports that involve sudden deceleration—such as basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, and tennis—pose a higher risk for ACL tears in young athletes. This is due to the repetitive movements of cutting, pivoting and/or landing on a single leg. Research also shows that female athletes are 2-10 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than males due to gender differences in biomechanics and anatomy.
Recovery from an ACL tear can typically sideline athletes for up to 6-9 months. To help keep athletes of all ages and skill levels in the game, TOCA’s PT experts are here to share with you the following ACL injury prevention tips and exercises:
TAKE the “JUMP TEST!”
Orthopedic doctors and physical therapists often use this simple test to check an athlete’s knee alignment and knee stability when landing from a jump. An athlete who lands with weak or knocked knees is at greater risk for injury. The jump test is also often used post-ACL surgery to help determine if the athlete is ready to return to their sport.
Neuromuscular and strength training exercises are an effective way to help your body master and improve stability and control without placing as much stress on the ACL. These techniques usually involve a combination of stretching, plyometrics (exercises involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles) and strengthening.
WATCH for the SIGNS.
Pay attention to your body’s cues. Although the symptoms of an ACL injury are not always the same, it is important to seek medical help if you experience any of the following: a loud “pop” accompanied by knee pain, persistent knee pain/swelling, difficulty supporting your weight or trouble standing/walking.
In addition to these ACL injury prevention facts and tips, TOCA’s PT experts suggest that athletes/parents/coaches check out this step-by-step ACL injury prevention program with exercises from the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation.
To visit one of our orthopedic sports medicine or PT specialists, please contact TOCA at 602-277-6211.