The ACL: A “JUMP” Start Guide on Education and Prevention

The ACL: A “JUMP” Start Guide on Education & Prevention

BY: Dr. Christen Biskelonis, PT, DPT

 

If you were an athlete growing up, a parent, or just a sports fan, odds are you have heard of at least one person tearing their ACL by now. Unfortunately, this injury is becoming more and more common in the sports world. As a victim of 3 ACL tears myself, I have made it my personal mission, as a physical therapist, to reduce the risk of ACL injury by spreading education and awareness to athletes, trainers, and family alike on proper jumping/landing mechanics, the most common causes of ACL injury, and preventative measures one can take to lower their risk of injury.

So what is the ACL anyways? The ACL is a ligament known as the anterior cruciate ligament. There are 4 ligaments, the ACL included, whose job is to provide passive stability/support to the knee (tibiofemoral joint). Specifically, the ACL’s job is to prevent anterior or forward movement of the tibia bone on the femur (bone of the lower leg on the bone of upper leg).

The ACL: A "JUMP" Start Guide on Education and Prevention

The ACL is at risk of injury when it is placed in positions that maximize the tension on this ligament, such as in quick rotations or turns, sudden or rapid hyperextension of the knee or a sudden collapse of the knee towards the middle (known as a valgus position). Most ACL tears occur in teenage female athletes and are typically non-contact injuries, although they can occur in any population type and with contact (such as in football or a slide tackle in soccer).

So how can we prevent this injury from happening? Thankfully, the knee has a lot of musculature surrounding it to also provide additional dynamic support. One muscle group in particular, the hamstrings, works actively the same way as the ACL does passively; the ACL and hamstrings are partners in crime in stopping forward movement of the upper leg on the lower leg, maintaining knee joint stability. Having an adequate hamstring strengthening program is vital to ACL injury prevention and lowering risk of injury in the future.

Another major cause of ACL injury is improper landing mechanics. When landing from a jump, the feet should be shoulder width apart, the knees should be in a nice straight line/in line with the toes and not collapse to the middle, and from the side-view, the knees should not be forward past the front of the toes.The ACL: A "JUMP" Start Guide on Education and Prevention
For a few tips on specific exercises one can do to help strengthen their legs and lower their risk for ACL injury, stay tuned for our next blog post! You don’t want to miss this!! Keep an eye on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/JourneyPTHealth/ as well as our Instagram page, https://www.instagram.com/journeypthealth/ or @Journeypthealth for the release of these great tips and exercises! Remember, one can always seek out the services of a physical therapist BEFORE they get hurt, you don’t need to wait for an injury to start improving your body mechanics and wellness. Here at Journey Physical Therapy, LLC we know prevention is key, so help us help you by reaching out with any questions or inquiries you may have; knowledge is power!