Prevent ACL Injury: Focus on these 3 Muscle Groups
ACL injuries are common, yet, the are very many ways to prevent an ACL injury from happening. One unfair aspect in sports is how susceptible females are to an ACL injury compared to males. The main reason for this is the difference in the Q angle. Your Q angle is the angle from two points of your hip to your knee. For females, the angle is at a much greater slant due to their hips being set wider for child birth. On the other hand, males have a less drastic Q angle because their hips tend to be narrower. Hopefully I didn’t lose you yet, but for those of you who have no clue what you just read, I’ve provided a picture below:
There are many different ways to prevent an ACL injury. Here are the steps we recommend you should take.
PREVENT ACL INJURY: THE STEPS
Step 1 – ASSESSMENT:
The first thing we do for both male and female athletes is assess to see if their knee moves in a fashion called a valgus collapse. A valgus collapse is when the inside of the knee (medial) drops in towards the centerline of the body. If the knee or knees valgus collapse, an athlete is at high risk of an ACL injury. Let’s assume an athlete does have an apparent valgus collapse, what’s next?
Next, we start to focus on developing & strengthening three main muscle groups; the hamstrings, VMO and leg abductors. Improving the strength of these three muscle groups is how one can start to build stability in the knee.
Step 2 – DEVELOPMENT:
In the early stages of training we would start our athletes off by completing isometric HS exercises, then after a week or two progress to eccentric HS exercises and eventually move our way into concentric work.
Check out one of our top HS exercises which can be done either isometrically, eccentrically or concentrically:
VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique):
Ones VMO is the golf ball shape muscle located on the inside of each knee. This is a part of your quad muscle group. The VMO helps to prevent the knee from Valgus Collapsing. It’s extremely important to develop this muscle in a preventative program. Take a look at our favorite VMO exercise set:
Your abductor muscles include three different muscles; the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Not only do they move the leg away from the body, but they also help rotate the leg at the hip joint. Abductors are necessary for staying stable when walking or standing on one leg.
Step 3 – MOVEMENTS to challenge the appropriate mechanics of one’s lower extremities:
After we’ve assessed, developed the strength of the three muscles we talked about, we then start to challenge an athlete’s ability to decelerate properly. A test that frequents our programming is a box drop. Box drops will show us if an athlete can absorb energy correctly. Correctly, in this example, is that the athlete no longer exhibits a valgus collapse while decelerating their body. If one can absorb energy properly then we know they’ll be able to transfer that energy in a ballistic movement efficiently without risking injury. Take a look at our box drop drill we use for almost all of our athletes:
Activ8’s ACL injury Prevention recommendation:
Go to a facility that trains professional athletes and have them assess your movements prior to doing any movement drill or lower body strength based exercise. Even though your knees aren’t hurting now, you might be doing damage to them in the long run. It’s important to start training now to prevent an ACL injury in the future. Know that you move well before you start moving!
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