Can ACL Injury Be Prevented with a 15-Minute Warm Up?

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are pretty much common amongst young athletes and the physically active. The ACL is one of the most commonly disrupted knee ligaments and is often associated with injuries to the articular cartilage, the menisci and other ligaments, which can accelerate the development of arthritis. Although the injury is treatable with surgery, it takes physical and psychological toll, not to mention the medical bills. A proper warm-up before practices and games could substantially lower the risk of hurting a knee, which can be more effective with an assistance of a physiotherapist.

ACL Injury

ACL injury is the over-stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee. The tear may be partial or complete. Females are more likely to have an ACL tear than males. An ACL injury can occur from getting hit very hard on the side of your knee, overextending the knee joint, or suddenly stop moving and change direction while running, landing from a jump, or turning.

If you have an ACL injury, you might hear a “popping” sound and you may feel your knee give out from under you. Other usual symptoms may include pain and swelling, loss of full range of motion, tenderness along the joint line, and discomfort while walking.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Anterior cruciate ligament is a ligament in the knee that crosses from the underside of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (bigger bone in the lower leg). It is located deep within the joint behind the patella (kneecap), above the shinbone, and below the thighbone.

The ACL works with the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses over it to form an “X”. Together, these 2 ligaments help maintain the stability of the knee when rotating. The ACL keeps the shinbone in its position and prevents it from moving too far forward and away from the knee and thighbone.

Importance of Warm Up

Warm up exercises are a crucial part of any exercise regime or sports training. The importance of a structured warm up routine should not the underestimated when it comes to preventing injuries. A good warm up comprises a number of very important key elements which should all be working together to minimise the possibility of sports injury from physical activity.

An effective way to prevent ACL injuries is to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles, especially the front and back muscles of the thigh. Avoiding sports that involve a lot of twisting and contact may also help prevent ACL injuries.

Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP)

A specific exercise programme called Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) can significantly reduce the ACL injury rate, according to a 2008 study. PEP consists of a warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and sport specific agilities to address potential shortfalls in strength and coordination of the stabilising muscles around the knee joint. The program should be completed 3 times a week and should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Another study showed that a modified 15-minute warm up programme can reduce landing errors from jumping. It was also found that the programme was able to increase hop height among athletes.

A reduced risk of sustaining ACL injury can reduce and/or prevent the physical, emotional, and financial burden of treating such career-threatening injury.

Talk to us on how we can help prevent ACL injury. Call i Physio Perth at 9272 7359 today!