ACL - Is it preventable?

Two prevention programs reduce risk, increase performance

A 2011 study in the journal Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach found that two prevention programs, Sportsmetrics and PEP not only significantly reduced ACL injury rates but improved athletic performance.

In general, experts say there are four ways to reduce the risk of ACL injury:

  • Proper leg muscle strength training and core training;
  • Proper neuromuscular (balance and speed) training;
  • Proper coaching on jumping and landing and avoiding any straight knee landing;
  • Proper footwear and orthotics if necessary (the amount of traction or "grippiness" of athletic shoes needs to fall within an optimal range that minimizes rotational friction to avoid injury yet optimizes transitional friction to allow peak performance in activities such as cutting and stopping).

A recent meta-analysis of published ACL injury prevention programs determined that plyometric and strengthening components were more important than balance training and that the favorable effects of training were most pronounced in female soccer players younger than 18 years.6

Another meta-analysis found that various types of neuromuscular and educational interventions appear to reduce the incidence rate of ACL injuries by approximately 50%, but that the estimated effect varied appreciably among the studies, the reasons for which were unexplained. 

The Bottom Line for ACL Injury Prevention
For both men and women who participate in start and stop sports, appropriate skills training such as those in the above program may be the key to staying injury free.