Dec
18

Exercises to help prevent ACL injuries.

Author sgalley    Category Knee Brace     Tags

ACL Injuries

About one month prior to any sports season starting, athletes should add stability strengthening exercises to their routine. Cross training with a stair climber or elliptical should be included in the cardiovascular routine to help muscles warm up and stretch. Here are several exercises that can be done to help prevent painful ACL injuries. The exercises should be continued during and after the sports season.
Warm up
It is dangerous to stretch a cold muscle so warm ups should be done in order to prepare the body for the physical activity to follow. Warm ups should include:

ACL Injuries

Line to line jog – slowly jog from one line or cone to another while keeping your hips, knees and ankles in a straight line. Knees should not cave in and the feet should not whip out to the sides while jogging.

ACL Injuries

Side to side shuttle run – moving from side to side, your hips, knees and ankles remain in a straight line. The exercise should start in an athletic stance with the knees slightly bent. You should push off with your back leg and sidestep in one direction to a predetermined point and then reverse.

ACL Injuries

Backward run – this warm up helps prevent knee locking. The participant runs backwards from one line to another, landing on the toes lightly. The knees should remain bent at all times.
Stretches
Anyone who exercises should always stretch after warm up to limber up the muscles and ligaments. Stretching allows the range of motion to be maintained and helps reduce joint stiffness, soreness after activity and injury. Don’t bounce or jerk the muscles during stretching. Instead, the stretch should be done to the point of tension in the muscle and held for 30 seconds. Your breathing should be normal and the stretch should lengthen the muscle.

ACL Injuries

Calf stretch – starting from a standing position, bend forward from your waist and lay your palms on the ground. Your right knee should be bent slightly while your left leg remains straight with the heel of your foot on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides. This should be done two times for each leg.

ACL Injuries

Quadricep stretch – this exercise is done with a partner. Lay your left hand on the partner’s left shoulder and then grab the front of your right ankle with the right hand from behind. Bring the heel of your foot to the buttock with your knee pointing to the ground. The legs should remain close together and the knee should not go out to the side. Remain in an upright position and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. This should be done two times for each leg.

ACL Injuries

Hamstring stretch – sitting on the ground, stretch your right leg out in a straight line with your left leg bent and your left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Keeping your back straight, lean forward to touch your chest to your knee. If able, reach towards your toes and bring them back towards your head. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides. This should be done two times for each leg.

ACL Injuries

Inner thigh stretch – while sitting spread your legs apart and lower the upper body down while keeping your back straight. The muscles in your inner thigh will stretch. Sit up and reach over your right leg with your right arm while extending your left arm overhead to the right. Hold for 20 seconds and then switch sides. This should be done three times for each leg.

Strengthening
In order to build up stability in your knees and legs, strengthening exercises should follow your warm up and stretching exercises. It is important that the technique is followed closely and that the performance of the exercises is adhered to in order to get good results.

Walking lunges – starting with your right leg, lunge forward keeping your front knee over your ankle. Push off with your right leg and lunge forward with your left, dropping your right knee down. The motion needs to be controlled to keep the knees from caving inwards. The toes should be visible on the leading leg. If they are not, the exercise is not being performed properly and your stance needs to be adjusted. This should be done in three sets of 10 reps.

Russian hamstring – with a partner, kneel on the ground with your hands at the side while your partner holding your ankles. Lean forward from the hips with knees, hips and shoulders in a straight line and your back straight. Do not bend at the waist. The hamstrings in your thigh will be working. This should be done in three sets of 10 reps.

Single toe raise – standing with your arms at sides, bend your left knee upwards and balance on one foot. Stretch your arms to the sides to help maintain balance and rise up on the toes of your right foot slowly. Hold and then lower. Repeat this 30 times and then switch sides.
Plyometrics
Plyometric exercises are designed to help build up the power, speed and strength of the body. The key to performing these exercises properly is to remember to land softly when jumping. Always land with the weight on the ball of your feet and then distributing it back to the heel with your knees bent and your hips straight.

Lateral hop over a cone – using a 6 inch high cone to the left of the body, hop sideways over the cone landing on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. Straighten the knee slowly. Hop back to the right to complete a rep. Do this for 20 reps.

Forward and backward hop over a cone – using the same 6 inch high cone, hope over the cone forwards landing on your balls of your feet with the knees bent. Straighten your knee slowly. Hop backwards over the cone to complete a rep. Do this for 20 reps.

Single leg hop over a cone – using the same technique found in the forward and backward hop over a cone, start with your right leg and complete a forward and backward hop for one rep. Do this for 20 reps, switch legs and repeat.

Single leg vertical jump with headers – stand straight with your arms at side and your knees slightly bent. Push off with your right foot and jump straight up, landing on the ball of your foot with the knee slightly bent. Do this for 20 reps, switch legs and repeat.

Scissors jump – using the same knee over ankle technique in the walking lunge, lunge forward with your right leg. Push off with your right foot and bring your left leg forward into a lunge position, maintain the knee and do not allow it to cave in or out. Land on the balls of your feet. Do this exercise for 20 reps.

Agilities
Agilities will help build up the range of motion in your ankle, knee and hip combination, allowing the participant to move more smoothly during exercise and physical activity. This will help stabilize the ACL and keep it flexible.

Shuttle run forward and backward – using as many cones as needed, sprint from the starting line to the first cone and stop. Then sprint to the next cone and stop. Continue this method to the end and then reverse running backwards.

Diagonal run – set the cones in a zigzag formation. Start at the line and run to the first cone to the left, pivot on your left foot, and run to the next cone on the right. Pivot off your right foot and run to the third cone. Continue to the end keeping your knee slightly bent and over the ankle. Repeat 3 times.

Bounding run – run from one line to the other bringing your knees up high towards your chest. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent and your hips straight.
Cool Down
The cooling down phase of any exercise routine or physical activity is hugely important and should never be skipped, I can’t stress this enough. There should always be water at hand through this phase and it should take about 10 minutes. Jog slowly until the heart rate comes down and then stretch your hamstrings, calves, inner thighs, quadriceps and lower back with the exercises listed above and the following exercises.

Alternate hip flex bridging – while lying on the ground, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Raise your buttocks off of the ground and squeeze, holding this as your right foot is lifted off the ground. Do not allow your hip to dip towards the ground. Lower your right foot and repeat the motion with your left foot. Repeat 30 times for each side.
Abdominal crunches – while lying on the ground, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Lace your fingers behind your head with your elbows out. Breathe in and contract your abdominal muscles while exhaling. Do this 30 times. Drop your legs to the right to the ground and repeat the crunching of the muscles to work the oblique’s. Repeat 30 times and then switch sides.

Knee to chest – while lying on the ground, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Bring your right knee into the chest while extending your left leg to the ground. Hug your right knee for 30 seconds, feeling the muscles of your lower back and buttocks stretching. Switch sides and then bring both knees to your chest. Repeat all three motions as a rep and do twice. If there is any pain in your lower back, discontinue the stretch.

Figure four piriformis stretch – while lying on the ground, bend your knees and place your feet flat. Place your left ankle over your right knee. Holding this position, take hold of your right thigh and pull your right knee into your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. This will stretch your gluteals and the sides of your thighs. Repeat the two motions as a rep and do twice. If there is any pain in your lower back, discontinue the stretch.

Seated butterfly stretch – when sitting, bring the feet into the body so that the soles are touching. Put your elbows on the knees and slowly push your knees down to the ground. This will stretch the inner thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times

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