17 ACL Prevention Exercises You Can Do At Home!!

As athletes, we have at least seen or experienced an ACL injury. When I was younger, there was no program or training in my athletic period for ACL prevention. I believe it is very important to have it, especially in sports that involve sudden stops, changes in direction, jumping, and landings, such as basketball, soccer, football, skiing, dancing, and tennis. So today I will be giving you some exercises that will help you prevent an ACL injury and these exercises will focus on Stretches, Strength, Balance, and Technique.

What is an ACL?

An ACL is the tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. The ACL is the tissue that connects the thigh bone to the shinbone at the knee. Treatment may require physical therapy or even surgery in most cases so it’s important to try and prevent ACL injuries to the best of your ability.

Exercises

Note: Do not continue with any of these exercises if they cause any pain.

 

Stretching

1.Single-leg Bridge

Lay on your back with your hands pressed into the ground for support, lift your body using one bent leg while the other is extended fully. Use the hamstrings, quads, and glutes to complete a number of reps or pulses, or hold the bridge for as long as you see fit.

The basic bridge isolates and strengthens your gluteus muscles and hamstrings. When done correctly, this exercise can also enhance core stability by targeting your abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back and hip.

Click here to see what it looks like.

2.Single-leg Reach

Start by standing, firmly balanced on one leg. Extend the arms forward and the opposite leg backward, attempting to become parallel to the ground.

You can hold here or bend the supporting leg. It is important to remember to keep the knee behind the toes when performing any bending motion.

Click here to see what it looks like.

3. Standing Clam

Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with an exercise band looped just above both knees. Bend slightly at the knees and bend forward at the hips keeping your back straight. Movement: Slowly turn your knees outwards as far as you can go and then back in again only a small amount. Repeat 10-12 times. Click here to see what it looks like.

If you don’t have exercise bands click here to get some.

 

Strength

Having adequate strength in your hips and thighs is key to providing support for your knees and preventing ACL injuries. Make sure to use proper technique.

 

1.Squats

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Sit back. Bend from your hips and knees. Stick your glutes out with your chest high.
  • Keep your knees behind your toes.
  • Remember, keep your knees and feet facing straight ahead as you squat.

2.The Heel Dig Bridging

This exercise works your hamstrings and the muscles around your lower body and hips. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent, and your ankles bent so that only your heels are digging into the floor. At this point, your knees should be bent about 90 degrees.
  • Tighten your belly muscles by pulling in your belly button toward your spine. Then push your heels into the floor, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line.
  • Hold about 6 seconds as you continue to breathe normally, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and rest for up to 10 seconds. 

Click here to see what it looks like.

3.Hamstring Curls

This exercise strengthens the muscles in the back of the thigh. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

  • Lie on your stomach with your knees straight. If your kneecap is uncomfortable, roll up a washcloth and put it under your leg just above your kneecap.
  • Lift your foot by bending the knee so that you bring the foot up toward your glutes. 
  • You may also want to add a (5Ib)cuff weight to your ankle. With weight, you don’t have to lift your leg more than 12 in. (30 cm) to get a hamstring workout.

Click here to see what it looks like.

If you don’t have 5Ib ankle weights click here to get a pair.

4. Quad Sets 

This exercise helps you build and maintain strength in your quad muscles. Do 8 to 12 repetitions several times during the day.

  • Sit on the floor with one leg elevated straight out in front of you.
  • Keep your toes pointing toward you while you tighten the muscles on top of your thigh(quad), keeping your knee flat. 
  • Hold for about 6 seconds, then rest for up to 10 seconds between sets.

If you feel discomfort under your kneecap, try putting a small towel roll under your knee during this exercise.

Click here to see what it looks like.

5. Shallow Standing Knee Bends

This exercise builds strength in your quad muscles. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

  • Stand with your hands lightly resting on a counter or chair in front of you with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly bend your knees so that you squat down just like you would sit in a chair. Make sure your knees don’t go in front of your toes.
  • Lower yourself about 6 in. (15 cm). Your heels should remain on the floor.
  • Rise slowly to a standing position.

Click here to see what it looks like.

6. Straight-leg Raises (to the front)

This exercise helps you strengthen your quad muscles and around your hip. Do 8 to 12 repetitions then do the same thing on your other leg.

  • Lie on your back with one of your knees bent so that your foot rests flat on the floor. Your other leg should be straight on the floor. Keep your back straight on the floor.
  • Tighten the thigh muscles in your leg and point your toe towards you.
  • Keeping your thigh muscles tight, lift your leg up so that your heel is about 12 in. (30 cm) off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower slowly.

Click here to see what it looks like.

7. Straight-leg Raises (to the outside)

This exercise helps you strengthen the muscles around your hip. Do 8 to 12 repetitions then do the same thing on your other leg.

  • Lie on your side, with your leg straight out.
  • Tighten the muscles on the front of the thigh of your leg and point your toes toward you.
  • Keep your hip and your leg straight in line with the rest of your body, and keep your knee pointing forward. Don’t drop your hip back.
  • Lift your leg straight up toward the ceiling, about 12 in. (30 cm) off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower your leg.

Click here to see what it looks like.

8. Hip extension With An Exercise Band

  • This exercise works the glutes and hamstrings. Stand with the band around one ankle and attached to a fixed point in front.
  • Use something to hold onto if you need to. Keeping the leg straight extend the hip as far back as comfortable and return to the start position.
  • Keep the hips square on facing forwards and perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner.
  • You should feel it working your glute muscles. This can also be done without a band on all fours lifting the leg up behind.

Click here to see what it looks like.

If you don’t have this type of exercise band click here to get one.

 

Balance

Many injuries occur when an athlete is off-balance. Like anything, the balance gets better with practice.

1. Double Leg Squat On Bosu Ball

Stand on top of a Bosu ball with a comfortable stance(shoulder-width apart, first try to balance yourself on the ball. Now try lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knees forwards.

Try to increase the depth that you go gradually. Make sure to keep you back straight throughout the movement.

Click here to see what it looks like.

2. Single-Leg Squat On Bosu Ball

Stand on top of a Bosu ball with a comfortable stance. Place one foot in front and try to balance yourself first. Then try to lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knee forwards, as shown in the video. Try to increase the depth that you go gradually. Make sure your back is straight throughout the movement.

Click here to see what it looks like.

If you don’t have a Bosu ball, click here to get one.

Here are some alternative exercises that you don’t need the Bosu ball for, but I still recommend getting one.

3.Single Leg Ball Pass

Setup in a single-leg stance while holding a medium-sized ball (I recommend a medicine ball) at chest level with both hands. Exhale, extend the arms, and tap the ball against the wall or with a partner. Catch the ball as it returns from the wall or partner and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Click here to see what it looks like.

4. Single-Leg Multi-planar Reach

 Assume a singleleg stance. While keeping the balancing leg slightly bent and hip in line with the knee, draw abs in and tighten glutes. With the opposite leg straight, extend it back at a 45-degree angle, tightening your glute, quad, and calf. Stabilize for two seconds and bring the foot back toward the opposite foot. Do this from front to side to back and repeat.

Click here to see what it looks like.

 

Technique

1.Agility-Changing Direction

  • Run to a line or cone, plant your outside foot without letting your knee collapse inward to change direction.
  • Move-in patterns that take you to the front to back, side to side, and diagonally. Start by running slowly so you can concentrate on a good position.
  • Pick up the pace and maintain good technique.
  • Remember HIPS over KNEES over ANKLES!

Click here to see some examples of it.

2.Jumping and Landing Safely

Jump straight up several times. Spring up, then land with your feet and knees pointing straight ahead. No knock knees! Let your knees bend softly each time you land. Practice these jumps facing a teammate and ask him/her to watch your form. Practice proper landing technique until it becomes second nature. Keep your knees bent, your chest high, your glutes back, and land softly.

The Benefits Of Doing These Exercises

It reduces the risk of an ACL injury or any damage involving the knees. Also, it’s just an overall great couple of exercises to add to your routine to stay healthy and safe.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article was helpful to you. If you enjoyed reading this and would like to be notified when I post more articles like this, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter list below. Also, share this with other athletes that you feel will benefit from reading it. If you have any questions, leave them down in the comments, and I will be sure to get back to you.

Have a great day!!

~Trinity G.

 

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