Football season is back, and with that comes injuries. We tend to see many knee injuries this time of year, and the ACL seems to be the big one. This is a season-ending injury that requires significant rehab.
The ACL is one of the ligaments in the center of your knee. It prevents your shin bone from moving in front of your thigh bone and can rupture or tear when the shin bone moves too far forward or your knee bends backward. It can also occur if your knee is hit.
Anyone who participates in multi-directional sports that involve cutting and pivoting are at risk for ligament tears and knee injuries. Females have a higher risk, especially those under 18 years of age. Soccer, basketball, and volleyball have higher incidence rates of injury as well.
The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy recently published a clinical practice guideline regarding the prevention of knee ligament injuries. This is an exercise-based approach, that doesn’t include bracing and other passive interventions.
The article mentions several programs for knee injury prevention, including FIFA 11+, HarmoKnee, PEP Program, and Sportsmetric, among multiple others. What all of these have in common is that they focus on multiple components of exercise:
- Plyometrics (jump training)
- Core strength
Sometimes overlooked, core strength was found to be correlated with knee injury prevention and should be an emphasis in training.
To be effective, training should be longer than 30 minutes/week and at least 20 minutes per session. Training should be done in preseason as well as in season. I encourage you to look further into the specific exercise protocols, and I’ve shared a routine at the end of this column that meets the established criteria to reduce the risk of knee during sport. This routine should be done twice per week. In my sample below, you should be able to complete all of the exercises in the allotted time, but the most important thing is to incorporate multiple types of exercises. Feel free to switch up the exercises within each category.
Please note, this guide should be used with care and does not guarantee an athlete will not become injured during play. Finally, while it is important to exercise, it is more important to exercise correctly. If you do not feel comfortable with a movement or have pain with a movement, I would recommend speaking with a professional. Don’t just move, move well!
For the dynamic stretching portion, try “The World’s Greatest Stretch” or similar exercises.
Bryon Renwand, PT, DPT, CSCS, works with ProMedica Total Rehab and received his Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science from the University of Toledo, where he also received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy. For his full bio and other articles, please click here.