In my last article I discussed some general tips for ACL injury prevention and in this segment I will provide some of my favorite exercises that you can add into your program to help reduce the chance of ACL injury.
The ankle joint mobility is one of great importance for optimal leg function, stability and force absorption. If the ankle mobility is suboptimal the next joint up, the knee, can take too much force which can lead to injury.
It is tough to say how much ankle mobility is enough; however, most athletes I come across don’t have enough so it is safe to say that you should have some ankle mobility training in your programming. As a general baseline range of motion for the ankle I like to look for getting the knee to move past the toes while the heel of the foot remains down.
One exercise for ankle mobility is a simple anterior ankle glide. Hold on to a post or wall for support. With your front foot flat on the floor and with the heel remaining down, glide your knee forward over your toe increasing the range of motion as you increase your repetitions.
Isometric Hold with Band Resistance
Strengthening the area around the knee is crucial to building up a strong joint that can handle the stressed placed during the demands of your sport.
Get a band and tie it around a stable post. Take the other part of the band and loop it just above your knee. Walk out and get the desired amount of tension where it is challenging yet manageable to keep your joint in proper alignment. Bend your knee slightly and maintain that position for at least 30 seconds.
You can change this exercise up by using a different resistance band, placing it around different areas of the leg or by simply adding time to the current version you are training.
Strength is very important for joint stability and force absorption. One of my favorite exercises to improve joint stability is the forward lunge.
The reason why the forward lunge is great is because when you step your leg forward and descend into the lunge your hamstring is activated to decelerate your body’s momentum and transfer it back to your original position.
So often players injure their ACL because they cannot absorb the force applied on their body and transfer it properly through a cut back and that stress causes a rotational movement in the lower leg and the ACL can get damaged.
For further explanation about the exercises mentioned above check out the video above.
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Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training™ (est. 2008) where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury. He has over 13 years of experience in strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation. He has coached many adult clients and athletes from middle school to Olympic and Professional level.
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