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There are 200,000 ACL injuries every year – don’t be a statistic

Over the course of a year there are more than 200,000 cases of ACL knee injuries, and 100,000 of these knees get reconstructed annually. Sometimes these painful injuries are avoidable with the practice and use of correct form and continuous strengthening of muscles. However, some are totally unavoidable no matter how much you try to prevent them. Let’s take a deeper look into these all too common injuries, how they affect people, and what methods you can use to prevent them from happening to you.

How an ACL injury happens:

When you have an ACL injury this means that an anterior cruciate ligament, usually used in keeping your knee stable, has been torn. These tears range from mild, a small tear, to severe, when the ligament completely tears or when the ligament and part of the bone are separated from the rest of the bone. This can sneakily happen over the course of time, or in a really sudden and painful moment.

Sports

Most ACL injuries happen while playing agility sports, the most reported being football, soccer, skiing, and basketball. These career halting knee injuries are sidelining athletes at an alarming rate, and some are never able to play to their fullest ability after recovering. 70% of these are from non-contact, like when an athlete slows down, changes direction, or lands after jumping. The remaining 30% occur from direct contact, such as taking a direct hit to the knee during a football game. Athletes commonly describe hearing a “pop” when the injury happens. This type of injury is most prevalent in people 15-45 years of age because of their more active lifestyle and higher participation in sports.

Long term effects for high school athletes & college players

There is a large number of high school and college student athletes whose careers in sports are affected by an ACL injury. For those who have a very seriously torn ACL, this may mean their career in sports is shelved. This is because a torn ACL can stop an athlete from playing for 6-12 months, often in the most vital part of the season if they are high school athletes hoping to get a college scholarship by playing in the college athletics program. For college athletes, they may end up losing their scholarships if they get injured during the season, and are not able to play again. Some end up having to leave the university and foot their own hospital bills. Even if they do heal, and are able to play, some are never able to go back to their original ability. However this all depends on how serious the injury was, and how driven and dedicated they are about recovering from it. A large amount of athletes affected by this injury make a complete recovery and are able to successfully return to the playing field, with a wiser outlook on taking care of their bodies.

What should you to reduce the risk of serious knee injury?

Practice conscious training! Don’t simply attend practice and think you are getting everything you need from it, make sure you are strengthening your muscles and stretching correctly to maintain a body that flows with you. Practice correct form in any of the movements you continuously do in your specific sport. It is also important to get screened for injury risks! Get an evaluation of your current strength, function, flexibility, and body mechanics. This will not only show you any areas that may be lacking, and exposing you to the risk of an injury, but also give you the chance to work on those before a serious injury occurs.

Get involved in a training program that is designed to correct any deficiencies found in a physical test. One of the most innovative methods is called Sportsmetrics. This training not only increases your muscular power and jump height, but also decreases the amount of impact forces at the knee. Sportsmetrics is a jump training program that is made up of dynamic warm-ups, strength training, jump/plyometric drills, and flexibility exercises. It is a prevention program that is made to increase neuromuscular control, improve balance, and teach avoidance strategies when sudden risky situations appear. It will also help you increase your vertical jump height by an average of 10%, improve landing mechanics, and reduce side-to-side movements at the knee. The program is designed and structured to guide the athlete with everything from technique development to performance enhancement.

By making sure that you are strengthening your legs and practicing correct form in everything you do you are ensuring that you will not become another number in a statistic. Take care of your body and it will take care of you!