Doctors’ Notes


ACL Injury Prevention

If you’re an athlete, or even a casual sports fan, you’ve heard those three dreaded letters — ACL — that mean the end of an athlete’s season, followed by months and months of rehab.

ACL is short for anterior cruciate ligament, one the four main ligaments in the knee. The ACL is critical for athletes, because it stabilizes the knee when turning or planting the foot. Because of their high profile, we usually think of ACL injuries as associated with professional athletes. But did you know…

ACL Round…That in the are hundreds of thousands of ACL tears a year in the United States? And that treatment costs, from surgery through post-surgical rehab, can exceed $1 billion annually?

…And that female athletes who participate in jumping and pivoting sports are 2-10x more likely to sustain a knee injury, and are 4-6x more likely to tear their ACL, than male counterparts in the same sport?

Many young female athletes are at an increased risk for injury due to widening of the hips during puberty and the subsequent increase in angle — often known as the Q-angle — from the hips to the knee. The increase in the Q-angle is one of the reasons many females tear their ACL without contact, often from landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running.

The Importance of Prevention

Studies have shown that neuromuscular training (strengthening) and proprioception (awareness of self in space) exercises can help reduce the number of ACL injures by 52% in females and 85% in males.

Being able to control the hip, trunk, and knee joints is based on feedback from the body. Impaired control of these joints comes as supporting muscles fatigue from a lack of strength. Inability to sustain control over these areas can increase risk for lower extremity injury. Hip and knee joint strength can be improved in female athletes with some easy strengthening exercises.

Studies and trials have shown that in just a 6-week time frame, muscular power and strength can be significantly increased. This increase may help reduce the peak forces placed on the knee in certain positions, and so reduce the number of injuries.

The Kids Plus ACL Injury Prevention Class

With that information in mind, and as a way to help keep our young athletes healthy and active, we’re offering a brand new Kids Plus ACL Injury Prevention Class! It’s a 6-week workshop that focuses on educating young athletes how to properly exercise and target problem areas that may lead to injury.

Some of the exercises may be part of routines they do daily with their teams, but in this class, we will pay more attention to details that can often be overlooked by coaches with larger teams. And we’ll focus on educating our young athletes on the best ways to prevent ACL injuries through their athletic careers, and through all the exercise and physical activity they enjoy in their lives.

For more info, including pricing and registration, see our ACL Injury Prevention Class web page.

Deanne Porterfield is a Certified Athletic Trainer who work out of both the Cranberry/Seven Fields and the Pleasant Hills offices.