One of our primary concerns when treating our athletic patients is further injury prevention. We are very conscious of what we do within our treatment program that will help our athletic clients decrease their risk for other common yet traumatic injuries. A common athletic injury that we frequently rehabilitate and work to prevent is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.
The ACL prevents the anterior (forward) movement of the tibia (shin bone) in respect to the femur (thigh bone) during walking, running, recreational and sports related activities. ACL injuries occur as a result of both contact and non-contact situations where the increase in force of movement is too much for the ligament to hold. These movements place increased stress on the knee joint, typically with forces in the rotational and horizontal planes in respect to the knee, which causes the ACL to tear.
Research has shown that athletic women suffer this type of injury an average of 3 times more that men competing in the same sports. It has been suggested that women are more likely to ACL tears due to the changes in hip and knee alignment they go through during adolescence. As a result, women are more susceptible to the rotational and horizontal forces mentioned above during sports participation. These forces are highest during cutting movements, quick direction changes, and when landing from a jump.
A recent study by Imwalle et al., published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the possible link between cutting movements and non-contact ACL injuries using a subject sample of high school female soccer players. The study compared rotational forces placed on the hop and knee during 45 degree and 90 degree cutting movements. The researchers found that hip and knee internal rotation were increased more during the 90 degree cut versus the 45 degree cut. As a result, the subjects’ knee abduction increased during a 90 degree cut putting the subjects at greater risk for an ACL injury. The researchers concluded that targeted neuromuscular strength training to the trunk and hips may improve the athletes’ ability to control knee and hip internal rotation during cutting movements, and therefore decrease their risk for ACL injury.
Our rehabilitation programs and strength and conditioning plans fall in line with this research. Our programs focus on core strength with targeted training for the low back, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and abdominals. Targeting these muscle groups improves the participants’ ability to control hip and knee internal rotation during cutting movements. Our therapists look at our patients’ form during agility and plyometric (jumping) activities that put greater stress on the knees and correct that form as needed.
Our Physical Therapists are experts at working with athletes during all stages of ACL injuries, from prevention to post operative rehabilitation. Contact us if you have questions about how Reddy-Care Physical Therapy can help you rehabilitate or prevent an ACL injury.