6 Exercises to Help Prevent ACL Injuries - PIH Health

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Published on July 30, 2015

6 Exercises to Help Prevent ACL Injuries

Girl stretching to avoid ACL injury

Girl stretching to avoid ACL injuryYou can protect your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) by doing exercises to strengthen your legs and stabilize your knees. While there is no one exercise or routine to prevent season-ending ACL injuries, it helps to warm up and cool down every time you work out or play your sport.

ACL injuries often occur when you make sudden turning movements or experience a direct hit or blow to the knee area. The ACL is located at the bottom of the thighbone and on top of the shin.
Before you start, be sure to warm up and stretch:

  • Take a light jog across the room or field, then sprint from side to side, which will help prepare your body for turns and steps. Then, run backward to loosen up your calf muscles.
  • Take a few minutes to stretch out your calves and hamstrings: Stand with legs spread just beyond shoulder width and alternating leaning forward to each foot and holding for 15-20 seconds.

Try these 6 Exercises Today

  1. Walking Lunges: Lunge forward with one leg, dropping your back knee to the ground. Be sure to keep your front knee over your ankle but not past your toes. Continue with your other leg. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
  2. Single Leg Heel Raises: With your arms to your sides or in front of you, bend your right knee, and then slowly lift your heel onto the toes of your left foot. Repeat about 20 times, then switch feet.
  3. Single Leg Hops: Stand on one leg and hop forward, landing softly on the same leg and bending at your knee. Hold your landing for a few seconds. Repeat for 20 hops on the same leg, and then switch legs.
  4. Vertical Jumps: Stand slightly forward with your feet shoulder distance apart and your arms and spine in a neutral position. With your knees slightly bent, push forward and straight up. Land softly with your knees directly over your feet. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
  5. Shuttle Run: Run forward and backward between markers for about a minute.
  6. Bounding Run: Perform single-leg high knee raises, alternating legs, for a minute.

These are just some of the exercises suggested for a healthy ACL. Consult with a physical therapist or trainer for a program that is best for you.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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