There are a total of four major ligaments in our knee whose function is to provide stability to the knee joint. One of the most important one is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). There are numerous fibrous bands attaching the ACL to the bones and that helps to keep motion in check and prevent excessive ones. It also prevents the lower leg from going into hyper extension. Due to the many types of forces experienced by the ACL, it is much easier to be injured compared to the other 3 ligaments. In this article, we will look at some exercises that can help to prevent ACL injuries.
ACL injuries are the most common knee injuries. Every year, many people tear or rupture their ACL due to various reasons, with the most common being sports. When the ACL is extended to beyond its maximum capability, it ruptures. Unlike bones that can heal on its own over time, ligaments do not heal on its own and once it is damaged, it will be permanently damaged and will require surgical means to aid in a full recovery. Situations where the ACL can be ruptured usually involve sudden directional changes or deceleration. In soccer, it can be as simple as a sudden change in direction to shield the ball from an opponent, with a hard twist while the studs of the boots are still firmly in the ground, causing the knee to twist and rupturing the ACL.
Lateral hops simulate jumping and landing actions which are extremely common in almost every sport and is one of the major causes of ACL injuries. The body is designed in a way where the knee will cushion the impact from any jumps and hence it is important to “teach” our knee muscles how to properly absorb shocks. The main idea of lateral hops is to cultivate a good landing technique and thus it is important to land firmly on the ground without any shuffling actions.
Leg balance squats
Leg balance squats as the name suggests help to cultivate balance in the legs. It drives the legs forward and a quick switch to the other, creating a chain reaction. This way, the body can easily drive one leg to the side in order to work the hips and lower extremities to provide balance to the body when faced with any trauma, reducing the chances of an ACL injury.
Since our body is designed as a linkage system where every muscle group contributes to the control of the knee and the ligaments, a total body core muscle strengthening program should be put in place to help prevent ACL injuries.