5 things to know about ACL injury prevention programs

If you could do an exercise program for 10 minutes a day and decrease your risk of suffering a season-ending ACL injury (and avoid surgery), I think many athletes would choose to do it. Proponents of these ACL neuromuscular training programs claim that these training programs can decrease the risk of ACL injuries 40% to 70%. In this video, I discuss 5 important points to consider about ACL injury prevention programs.

ACL injury prevention programs replace your normal warm-up exercises.

One of the best parts of these exercises is that they don’t require any extra time during practice each day. You do them instead of your normal warm-ups. These exercises will stretch and warm up all of your key muscle groups. But they teach landing and cutting techniques and muscle firing patterns at the same time.

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They are best done as an entire team rather than individually.

Some athletes are predisposed to ACL injury more than others due to anatomy, landing techniques and more. In theory, you could identify these athletes and implement the programs with them alone. Rather than isolate them and call attention to them, it might be better to have the entire team do the program. Each team member can watch the technique and mechanics of their teammates, and they might have more fun doing them together.

Soccer player doing ACL injury prevention exercises

It’s important for an expert to demonstrate proper techniques.

You can find these programs online and download the exercises. It’s important, though, to make sure you are doing each exercise correctly to get the benefits. Have a physical therapist or athletic trainer experienced in these programs come out and teach the athletes how to do each exercise. That expert can teach the coach what to look for as the athletes do them do he or she can monitor your technique throughout the season.

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They work best if the athletes start doing them when they are young.

There is no harm doing these exercises in college or high school, but many experts in ACL prevention believe that they are most effective if started early. If your son or daughter is in middle school, or even plays on a U-10 team, these exercise programs might be more effective than waiting until after the child goes through puberty and muscle firing patterns become more established.

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You must keep doing them.

These ACL injury prevention programs work best if you do them faithfully, month after month, year after year. Doing them one season is great, but it really needs to become part of your normal routine during your sports career.

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