The ACL is the most common ligament that gets torn in athletes, specifically younger athletes with 70% of these injuries being non-contact. ACL injuries happen typically when we are jumping and landing, when we are sprinting and stopping or when we are changing direction rapidly. How it happens:
When we are landing or cutting in any certain direction, we see that knee cave in.
When the knee caves in, the hip also caves in and the ankle will cave in.
This landing is flexing the knee forward and closer to my midline than my ankle, which pushes the tibia forward and then the femur thus compressing the tibia.
In our quad-dominant athletes, our hamstrings aren’t strong enough to pull that tibia back, so then all of that force is going right onto our ACL. Eventually the ACL tears under the stress.
An example of this exercise would be a hamstring curl. During this exercise we are asking the athlete’s to really focus on lengthening that muscle to strengthen it in it’s longest and shortest position.
We do a ton of this with our athletes. An example being a Romanian Deadlift or an anterior reach. We are looking for the athlete to feel a big stretch during these hinging exercises.
Again, strengthening the muscle through its full range of motion so that when they do land hard, cut hard or stop suddenly, their hamstring is strong enough to pull the tibia back and take the pressure away from our ACL, reducing the potential for injuries.
Have questions on how to help your field or court athlete become more injury proof?
Talk to a coach here.