The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) joins the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone to help keep the knee stable. 1 out of every 3000 people will have an ACL injury per year and approximately 100,000 will choose to have reconstruction surgery to repair it. The ACL is injured more than any other ligament in the body and becoming more common among soccer players. Typical movements in soccer can cause stress on an ACL—High-velocity, change in direction, pivots and rotation of lower extremities can affect the function and stability of an ACL. For example, when a player passes the ball from one side of the field to the other using a “right-to-left” motion they rotate with the left foot fixed to the ground around the left knee but are kicking the ball across their body.
That rotation happens at a velocity and force that is well beyond that of normal activity, which can lead to an ACL injury. Contact vs. non-contact with another player—ACL injuries can occur when contact is made with another player—such as a tackle from the side causing a valgus force to the knee or “knock knee”. Similarly, non-contact soccer injuries to the ACL are commonly caused by the repetitive and quick movements mentioned above or landing awkwardly. Anatomy of a player—The anatomy of an athlete, especially female soccer players, can contribute to the potential risk of an ACL injury for the following reasons: Female soccer athletes differ from male athletes because of the alignment of their hips and knees.
This difference is associated with knee valgus alignment, which increases the likelihood of ACL injury especially when movements are completed in high velocity. The femoral notch, where the ACL lives, tends be more narrow in females than in males. So if the knee or femur twists around the tibia the ACL is impinged upon by bone causing injury. Developing studies also have indicated that hormonal changes in women can impact the likelihood of sustaining an ACL injury.
Perform these exercises at least once a week for the best results. Perform 3 sets of each exercise.
1. Plyometric exercises: The focus is on correct technique and body mechanics.
2. Neuromuscular training: Aims to improve and create optimal patterns of muscle firing, increase joint stability dynamically, and to perform sport- and daily activity- specific skills and patterns of movement; and
3. Strength training: Shown to be effective when completed in conjunction with neuromuscular and plyometric training