Second Opinion: As an Athlete, How Can I prevent an ACL Injury?

Athletes involved in high impact activities are at risk for tearing their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a ligament that stabilizes the knee during anterior translation and rotation. Common mechanisms that cause ACL tears include collisions into the side of the knee, overextension, and/or a quick pivot where the knee does not follow the path of the body. Athletes that are involved in a single year-round sport are much more likely to be injured. Preseason strengthening and agility programs have shown the ability to reduce ACL injuries. This implies that the athlete participates in a “seasonal” sport and has not only the ability to rest from that sport in the offseason, but is able to work on specific coordinated muscle groups for that sport in the preseason. Coaches often overlook resting the muscles as a critical preventive strategy to injury. A strong preseason training program should be constructed to improve the athlete’s strength, coordination, agility, and balance unique to that individual sport. Braces do not help prevent ACL tears, and not all ACL tears can be avoided. However, with proper training and rest many athletes may be able to avoid this injury as well as other musculoskeletal injuries.

Colin Kingston, MD
Tidewater Orthopaedic Associates