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Don’t Bench Yourself with a Preventable ACL Injury

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3 exercises to keep you playing.

3 Exercises to Keep you Playing

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Meet Jackie Jensen, Crossover Physical Therapy Women’s Health Specialist.

Women are four to eight times more likely to experience an ACL tear than men. It is also known that 70 percent of ACL injuries occur without collisions or direct contact to the knee…meaning there are things women and girls can do to help prevent this type of injury from occurring.

Noncontact ACL injuries often occur with quick changes in direction, pivots or poor jumping & landing mechanics. The image below is an example of how an ACL injury can occur with poor landing mechanics.

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In this image, the knee gives way and the muscles aren’t there to support it.

In this image, the knee gives way and the muscles aren’t there to support it. This causes the knee to collapse in (dynamic knee valgus), potentially damaging ligaments in the knee such as the ACL. She’s also displaying poor control of her hip and center of mass. The good news is that these movement faults are correctable.

Data show that doing the right exercises can actually help prevent certain knee ligament injuries such as ACL tears. The key is strengthening the right muscles.

As a female athlete and former collegiate hockey player, Jackie, DPT, shares the following 3 exercises to help keep women from experiencing an ACL tear:

#1 Bulgarian Split Squat:

WHY: Girls tend to have one leg stronger than the other.  Having one leg stronger than the other promotes an uneven weight transfer when landing from a jump. This position of uneven weight distribution is associated with an increased risk of ACL injuries.

HOW TO:

  1. Begin standing with one foot propped on a bench.
  2. Keep your torso upright at all times.
  3. Lower your back knee to the ground until your front knee is bent to 90 degrees.
  4. Keep front knee stacked over the ankle, drive up through the heal to stand.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
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Bulgarian Split Squat

#2 Single-Leg RDL

WHY: Girls tend to use their quadriceps more than their hamstring when compared to boys. This quadricep dominant strategy has been shown to lead to increases in ACL injuries.

HOW TO:

  1. Begin with both feet under your hips.
  2. Slightly bend both knees and shift your body weight to stand on one leg.
  3. Hinge is the hood by pushing your buttock towards the back wall
  4. Your back heel should rise towards the ceiling as your shoulders drop towards the ground.
  5. Always maintain a flat back, return to standing tall.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
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Single-Leg RDL

#3 Side Planks

WHY: Girls tend to have less core strength and stability, which makes it more difficult for them to control their bodies and keep their weight over their base of support.

HOW TO:

  1. While lying on your side, feet stacked on top of each other.
  2. Lift your body up on your elbow and feet.
  3. Keep your hips pushed forward and in line with your shoulder and ankles.
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Side Planks

A torn ACL can be a career-ending injury. Studies have shown that once an athlete has torn his or her ACL, the chance of re-tearing it is six times greater. Additionally, once a female athlete has torn her ACL, she becomes 16 times more likely to tear her ACL in the other knee. This is why it is especially important for female athletes to follow the right steps to prevent an ACL injury from happening

Female athletes aged 15 to 18 years exhibit the largest decreases in ACL injury risk in response to neuromuscular training (NMT) programs.

The time to begin NMT programs is during early adolescence.

A minimum of 6 to 8 weeks of training is needed before neuromuscular changes are seen and athletic performance improves.  Crossover PT’s program is 2 times per week for 6 weeks.

If you are interested in our 6-week NMT program or a hassle-free consultation, contact Jackie via email or call 763-595-1300 to schedule today.

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