Special Training to Avoid ACL Injury

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is:

  1. One of the four connective tissues that holds the knee is place,
  2. One of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee,
  3. Especially among young athletes and
  4. Especially among young female athletes,

There’s no multiple-choice test here. All four of those facts are true.

“Most of the ACL injuries we see are triggered when an athlete is landing or stopping short – not by running into another player,” says Orthopedic Specialist Patrick Denton, MD. “Preventing ACL injury is important, because nearly half of people who suffer an ACL injury will end up with osteoarthritis later in life. And that problem can lead to joint replacement surgery.”


Poor mechanics when jumping and landing — causing knees to turn inward (knock kneed) or extend beyond the toes — increase the risk of ACL injury. Several factors unique to females – such as one leg significantly stronger than the other and poor core strength compared to their legs – increase their chances of damaging their ACL.

To avoid ACL injuries, programs are available to assist young athletes improve their skills, stability, and strength. Most of these programs focus on training nerves and muscles (neuromuscular) to respond correctly.

  • Jump Training (also known as Plyometrics) is designed to increase balance and decrease the landing force on the knee. These exercises build muscle strength through a series of rapid, powerful movements that first stretch the muscle and, then, shorten it. In one type of jump training, an athlete jumps off a small box. As soon as they touch the floor, they jump back up in the air.
  • Stability Training involves both improving strength and balance. It can involve
    • Balance boards,
    • Throwing a ball to a teammate while standing on one leg or
    • Jumping on one leg, landing with the knee flexed and holding that position.


These exercises are relatively inexpensive and can be incorporated by a coach in team warm up exercises.

When correctly accomplished, training improves the athletic experience in two ways:

  • Reduce ACL Injuries. On average, a neuromuscular training program can reduce the incidence of ACL injury for athletes by 63%.
  • Improve Overall Performance. The athlete can improve speed and aerobic function, while increasing vertical jump by 10%.

You may also find these articles useful:

Strains, Sprains & Tears: Common Knee Ligament Injuries

Young Women Beware of an ACL Tear

”Pop” Goes the Meniscus. When the Knee’s Shock Absorber Fails.

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For information about Sports Injury Prevention Programs, click here.

Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, National Institutes of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics