Female athletes are highly vulnerable to ACL knee injuries unless they participate in training programs designed to reduce injury risks. We explain how to evaluate your daughter’s program to make sure she’s getting the preventative conditioning she needs to play safely.
Importance of ACL injury prevention
Research shows us that when it comes to ACL injury risk among female athletes, how girls jump and land during competition matters. The form used by competitive female athletes makes their knees more vulnerable. Research has also shown us how to address and reduce this risk: through carefully designed ACL injury prevention training programs. We identify the training techniques that have been used successfully to reduce ACL injuries, so you can make sure your daughter is getting the preventative coaching she needs to stay safe.
There are some compelling reasons to make sure your young athlete does what she can to avoid ACL tears. When this knee ligament is injured, surgery is expensive and recovery is lengthy. It will cost your daughter time away from her sport, and could affect scholarship opportunities. Even with surgery, some patients continue to experience episodes where the injured knee gives way during activity. Finally, once the ACL has been torn, there is up to a 50 percent chance of developing degenerative arthritis within 12 years.
ACL injury prevention training programs
Effective preventative training programs—like those taught by our Summit sports medicine professionals—don’t simply build muscle strength. They focus on the comprehensive factors shown to reduce ACL injury risk by encouraging girls to perform training drills that increase balance, power, agility, neuromuscular conditioning and muscular reaction. These programs are meant to replace the warm-up period, and include the following drills:
- Relearning how to land after a jump: with flexed knees positioned over the feet, and chest positioned over the knees upon landing.
- Balance exercises: standing on unstable surfaces, volleying while balanced on a single leg, and performing single-leg vertical jumps.
- Functional (versus weight) strengthening: lunges, single-leg squats, and step-ups.
- Footwork training: girls learn to move their feet quickly, softly, with specific purpose, and without a “high knee” technique. Often, an “agility ladder” training tool is used for these drills.
We encourage young athletes to begin these drills four to six weeks before they begin competing. While no program can eliminate all risk of an ACL injury, these training programs have been very successful and are shown to significantly diminish ACL tears.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise
From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, Plymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
Additional resources for you
- Check out the condition guide: Knee Ligament injuries: Tears of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament
- More on Summit’s ASCEND Program
- More on Summit’s Sports Medicine services