If you want to do an ACL prevention exercise program or have your son or daughter do one, should you find the exercises online and try to do them on your own?
My daughter plays high school soccer. I’m worried about the increased risk of ACL injuries in female athletes. Where can I find these exercise programs online?
First of all, I applaud you for being proactive and trying to decrease her risk of ACL tears. We do know that females have an increased rate of ACL tears. Also while different studies show different levels of effectiveness, these programs generally show a trend towards fewer ACL tears among athletes that perform them daily.
Many sports medicine programs across the country teach ACL prevention programs. Their physical therapists or athletic trainers might go out to teach an entire team and their coaches at the beginning of the season. The coach learns the program, observes the athletes doing the exercises each day, and corrects any flaws in their techniques.
Some programs offer these programs for individual training as well. An athlete works with an athletic trainer or physical therapist for several sessions. She learns the exercises and the correct landing and jumping mechanics in order to then perform them daily on her own.
Many people ask about internet availability of these programs. There are likely websites that have a list of exercises and maybe even pictures or videos of them. My concern with trying to learn them in this way would be ensuring proper technique. It is critical that athletes perform the exercises properly. Having someone demonstrate them in person and be present to watch the athletes doing them would ensure that they are perfecting the proper mechanics.
I asked Renée Garrison, PT, MTC, CLT, a physical therapist in Charleston who helps teach an ACL prevention program to our teams and athletes, for her thoughts. “Proper mechanics are the crux of any ACL prevention program. Practicing incorrectly could actually encourage injury instead of preventing it. It is vital to learn and practice precise technique.”
In summary, it is certainly possible for an athlete to find these exercise programs online. And maybe doing them is better than not doing any at all (assuming again that you can do them properly). I’d strongly suggest that they try to contact sports medicine programs in their area and find out if they teach ACL injury prevention programs.