At Lincoln Orthopedic Physical Therapy we’re committed to helping athletes get healthy and stay healthy. Recently there has been a significant increase in the number of ACL injuries in female athletes, particularly soccer players. Unfortunately, studies show that a female soccer player’s risk of an ACL injury is 2x to 8x that of males. Fortunately, adding certain exercises to a training regimen can reduce the number of ACL injuries by 2x to 4x. Below is the ACL Prevention Project training program. This program was created by the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Foundation, in an effort to decrease the number of ACL injuries in female soccer players.
ACL Injury Prevention Program Overview
This ACL injury prevention program is a 15-minute training session that replaces the traditional warm-up. The program goal is to help players avoid injury by:
- Increasing flexibility
- Increasing strength
- Including plyometric exercises in training
This program should be performed at least 2-3 times per week during the season. This program consists of a warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and sport specific agility training. Alongside each exercise we’ve noted the amount of time/reps that should be spent on each exercise.
Warming up and cooling down are a crucial part of a training program. The purpose of the warm-up section is to allow the athlete to prepare for activity. By warming up your muscles first, you greatly reduce the risk of injury.
- Jog line to line: (30 sec)
- Shuttle Run (30 sec)
- Backward Running (30 sec)
The warm up before stretching is important to decreasing risk of injury. The following exercises help improve range of motion, reduce stiffness, reduce post-exercise soreness, reduce the risk of injury and improve overall mobility and performance. Don’t bounce or jerk, gently stretch to a point of tension and hold. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and breathe normally (don’t hold your breath).
- Calf stretch (30 seconds x 2 reps)
- Quadriceps stretch (30 seconds x 2 reps)
- Hamstring stretch (30 seconds x 2 reps)
- Inner Thigh Stretch (20 seconds x 3 reps)
- Hip Flexor Stretch (20 seconds x 2 reps)
The focus of the strengthening phase is increasing leg strength. Increased leg strength leads to a more stable knee joint.
- Walking Lunges (3 sets x 10 reps)
- Hamstrings (3 sets x 10 reps)
- Single Toe Raises (30 reps x 2 reps)
Plyometric exercises are explosive and help to build, power, strength and speed. The most important element when considering performance technique during plyometric training is that the landing must be soft. When landing from a jump softly accept your weight on the balls of your feet with a bent knee.
ACL Injury Prevention Program Plyometric Exercises
- Lateral hops over Cone (20 reps)
- Forward/Backward hops over cone (20 reps)
- Single Leg hops over cone (20 reps)
- Vertical jumps with headers (20 reps)
- Scissors jump (20 reps)
- Shuttle run with forward/backward running (1 min)
- Diagonal runs (3 passes)
- Bounding run (44 yds)
Using a post-practice cool down is essential to the program and shouldn’t be skipped. It allows muscles that have been working hard during practice to elongate and reduces muscle soreness. The cool down takes about 10 minutes. It includes light strength training and stretching exercises.
- Bridging with Alternating Hip Flexion (30 reps)
- Abdominal Crunches (30 reps x 2 reps)
- Single and Double Knee to Chest (30 sec x 2 reps)
- Piriformis Stretch- Supine (30 sec x 2 reps)
- Seated Butterfly stretch – seated (30 sec x 2 reps)
At LOPT we hope that all athletes have injury-free seasons. Using this exercise plan will help strengthen the lower body to reduce the likelihood of an ACL injury. If you have any questions give us a call. To see the full version of the ACL Prevention Training Program with more detailed explanations of the exercises and purpose of each one go to http://assets.ngin.com/attachments/document/0004/0565/The_Santa_Monica_ACL_Injury_Prevention_Project.pdf