What is the ACL?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (or ACL) is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the knee preventing the shin from translating forward under the thigh bone. It provides rotational stability which is important in sports where there is a rapid change in direction and speed.
What are the mechanisms of injury for an ACL Tear?
ACL tears are common in sports which involve starting and stopping, pivoting, changing directions and deceleration, especially on turf. Athletes who play soccer, basketball and hockey are at great risk for such injury. Their foot can remain in the same place while their thigh rotates, causing a torque force through the knee joint. Soccer players are at an even higher risk of an ACL tear because of the motion which occurs around the knee as a player kicks a ball.
How can I prevent an ACL Tear?
A very important factor to prevent an ACL tear is doing a proper warm-up prior to activity and strengthening the hamstring muscles. The hamstrings attach to the back of the knee and prevent the shin from translating forward. They support the ACL and can act as a stabilizer when the ACL is weak.
What is the FIFA 11+?
The 11+ program* was developed by the FIFA organization with the goal of prevention of ACL tears in soccer. It consists of 15 exercises which are to be performed in a specific order prior to sport to ensure the body is warmed up and ready for all the forces applied to the knee during a game.
The FIFA 11+ is divided into three sections:
- Running exercises at slow speed, active stretching and partner contacts
- Six exercises involving core and leg strength, balance, plyometrics and agility
- Running exercises at high speed, cutting and pivoting movements
Key Elements of Effective Injury Prevention:
- Core training: this is required to maintain optimal function of the lower extremity joints
- Neuromuscular control and balance: this involves a complex interaction of muscles, coordination, stabilization, posture, balance and anticipation of movements
- Plyometrics: These exercises allows muscles to reach maximum functional capacity in a short burst of movement
For a complete assessment of strength, stability, coordination and balance, speak to your physiotherapist and have a formal assessment completed. These exercises can be further discussed and practiced to help reduce your risk of an ACL tear, especially if you play soccer!
*For the full FIFA 11+ Manual, please visit: http://f-marc.com/11plus/manual/