Thursday, January 12, 2012

Knee Strengthening Tips to Avoid ACL Tears

One of the most common, and certainly debilitating, sports injuries is an ACL tear. In a previous post on ACL surgery and rehabilitation, we talked about what happens after tearing this important ligament, but what about before the tear happens? When attempting to avoid a knee injury, incorporate three types of exercises: flexibility exercises, strengthening exercises and cardio exercises. We’ve compiled a list of important tips and exercises to help you strengthen your knees against ACL tears.

  • Tip #1: Stretch and warm up: No matter the intensity level of the exercise, begin every physical activity with a brief and gentle warm up. Jog in place, do a few jumping jacks and get the blood flowing to your muscles. Having warm muscles can help reduce injuries and keep you out of an ACL brace.

  • Tip #2: Exercise regularly. Many knee injuries occur the first time getting back into the sport and exerting oneself too hard. Certainly not all injuries occur from a lack of pre-sport conditioning, but in many cases, you can prevent knee injuries by consistently practicing the sport. Note: remember to utilize your medical knee braces when exercising if you’re prone to knee problems or have previously suffered a knee injury.

  • Tip #3: Listen to your body. Pain is your body’s way of speaking to you and warning you. Get to know your body’s warning signs and the difference bet. We like the New York Times’ article, “That Little Voice Inside Your Twinge” which discusses the differences between pain and discomfort.

  • Tip #4: Begin a plyometric exercise program. Plyometric training is used to develop faster reacting muscles while strengthening tissues which can help improve performance and helps prevent injuries. The basics of any plyometric program are a series of exercises, or drills, which involve heavy muscle loading and muscle contractions like hops or jumps.

  • Tip #5: Ball squat. Place a fairly large ball between your knees and squeeze to hold it in place. Lower into a wall squat position with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Do 3 – 5 sets of 10 -20 ball squats to strengthen your knees.

  • Tip #6: Flamingo (single leg) dip. Stand between two chairs for balance. Lift one leg, keeping it either straightened or loosely bent while the other is firmly on the ground. Slowly lower down to a 90 degree angle, keeping your hands on each chair for balance. Slowly use your leg muscles to push back up to standing and switch legs.

  • Tip #7: Step Ups. Channel your inner Richard Simmons and get out at least a 6 inch high step or stepping stool. Start by stepping onto the step with your left foot. Place it solidly on the step and place the majority of your weight on that side. Next, raise your right foot off the ground and bring it to the step, without placing it fully on the step – almost like a tap to the step. Then, lower your right foot back to the ground (without having placed it on the step) and then your left foot. Switch sides.

  • Tip #8: Big Tire Jumps. Imagine there is a large truck tire on the ground that you have to jump over. Stand on your right leg and hop high and wide “over” the tire, landing on your left leg. Pause and hold your right leg in the air as you balance on your left leg. Then push off your left leg back “over” the tire to the right and land on your right leg. Repeat 15 times.

  • While keeping yourself out of an ACL brace isn’t always avoidable, there are certain measures you can take to best prevent a knee injury. Remember to include flexibility exercises, strengthening exercises and cardio exercises, especially a plyometric program, to best condition your body and combat ACL tears.

    Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition, or be taken as medical advice. For more information related to your unique situation, please speak with your personal physician.

    About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributor, carrying a comprehensive selection of medical grade knee braces and complimentary rehabilitative cold therapy units.

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