Did you know that there are 4 main ligaments in our knee to supports its stability? These ligaments work together to avoid any excessive motion towards the knee joint and prevent over-stretching which can lead to serious injuries. Out of the 4 ligaments, the most important one is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). ACL injuryis quite common among athletes and teens, and usually the Orthopaedics surgeon will perform an ACL reconstruction to treat the injury.
It is tough to assess how athletes can modify their movements to prevent ACL injury. Before ever delve into how we can reduce the risk of ACL injuries, let us first understand why ACL injuries occur.Most ACL tears occur when there is a sudden twist in action (eg. change in direction, landing awkwardly from a jump) that cause tremendous stress on the ligaments rupturing the ACL.
Step 1: Strengthening leg muscles
Start doing some leg muscle strengthening exercises to help increase the leg strength. This is to build a more stable knee joint. Having a strong knee joint will help resist any sudden movement by holding the ligaments firmly in place especially during twisting actions.
Here are some leg muscle strengthening exercises you can do:
- Hamstring curls
- Toe heel raises
- Walking lunges
Step 2: Neuromuscular training
Another preventive measure is the neuromuscular training. You might be wondering what exactly this neuromuscular exercise is. Well, it teaches your body to get the optimal stability in your knees and how it should move when jumping, pivoting and landing. Generally, injuries occur because of the awkward landing on the knees – the way it is positionedcauses the ligament to twist and then rupture.
Based on research done on neuromuscular training, scientists found out that it can reduce the risk of the tearing of the ACL significantly.
Step 3: Knee Bracing
For those with weak knees or have instability in the knee, it is best to use a knee brace. A good knee brace should make feel like you are not wearing one, lightweight that is. But it should still be able to hold the knee ligaments firmly together.
Knee braces are allowed to be worn during some sport activities and having a knee brace can provide a much better stability as well as confidence for the athletes.
Step 4: Get sufficient rest
Taking enough rests in-between training and playing any activities, especially in sports will allow the body enough time to recondition and tissue repair. If the body is stressed, it is deprived of getting sufficient rest and might lead to getting torn ligaments in the long run.
It’s not too difficult to reduce the risk of ACL injury, all you need is a little effort to strengthen your muscles and wear protective gears while engaging in your favorite sport.