ACL Injury Prevention Tips

It is common for young athletes today to train at high intensities for the same sport year round. However, this repetitive use of the same muscle group without proper rest and conditioning has led to a significant increase in youth ACL tears. Within the last ten years, there has been a 400 percent increase in this type of injury, and it continues to rise. Besides surgery, ACL tears require intensive rehabilitation, which can cut into school time amid other long-term consequences.

Now, doctors are looking into developing programs and training techniques in order to minimize the number of ACL injuries sustained by children. James N. Gladstone, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Co-Chief, Division of Sports Medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital, has developed a conditioning program aimed at preventing ACL tears. The program involves high intensity speed and agility drills, cutting, running, jumping, and overall strength training.

Below are some simple tips and exercises recommended by Dr. Gladstone and his team of Sport Medicine experts at Mount Sinai to help prevent ACL tears.

  • Always Warm-up: Get blood circulating to your muscles and joints before you start games, practices, or any physical activities.
  • Stretch: Stretching not only helps warm-up your muscles, but it increases your flexibility which decreases your risk of injury. Pay particular attention to areas that are especially tight.
  • Strengthen: Having adequate strength in your hips and thighs is important to providing support to your knees. Squats and lunges are a couple of exercises that can help build strength in these areas, but be sure to use proper form.
  • Balance: Many injuries occur when an athlete is off-balance. Practice exercises that increase your agility and help you to jump and land safely.
  • Rest: Adequate sleep, rest days, and alternating difficult workouts are important in decreasing your risk of injury. If you experience any pain or sustain an injury, stop and seek medical attention.

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