Can ACL Injuries Be Prevented?

Did you know that 70-85% of ACL injuries are typically non-contact? Or, that female athletes have a greater risk of ACL injury compared to males playing similar sports?

It seems like every week, you hear about another athlete who tears their ACL. In the NFL, 36 season-ending ACL injuries have been reported this year. Three took place this past Sunday, including a non-contact ACL injury by 49er’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

What’s even worse is when it comes from a celebration…

A contact ACL injury seems to justify itself more so than a non-contact ACL injury.

These season-ending injuries can have a huge impact on an athlete. Not only is it a long and costly process, but it can take a toll on you as an individual from a physical and mental standpoint. Take it from someone who has had 2 ACL injuries himself. 

I’ve even talked to parents who keep their kids out of sports due to the risk of an ACL tear. After my first ACL injury, my mom begged me to stop playing football and cheer my team on from the stands…HAH, love you Mom, but no way was that happening. I had to come back to play my senior year and it was 100% worth it. My second ACL tear was non-contact and didn’t come till 6 years later – which has fueled me on a path to help those who have suffered this same injury. 

So……Can ACL injuries be prevented?

Prevented? Not really. Reduced? Definitely.

Prevention means that we can stop something from happening, which means we can predict it. We’re not quite there yet.

Reduction means we are making it smaller or less in amount, degree or size. We have proof of this.

For simplicity sake, you will still see prevention and reduction used interchangeably, but keep in mind what we discussed above.

A powerful research study came out this year by Webster et al. 2018 Meta-Analysis of Meta-Analyses of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Reduction Training Programs.

It conclusively shows that 50% of all ACL injuries and 67% of non-contact ACL injuries in females can be reduced with the simple implementation of 2-3x per week of injury reduction/prevention programs.

Some important components of these programs are:

  • Dynamic Warm-Ups
  • Foundational Strength
  • Proprioceptive Training
  • Plyometric and Power Development
  • Acceleration/Deceleration, Multi-directional
  • Sport-Specific Training

In later posts, we will break down these different components of a well-designed injury prevention program.