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Primary Prevention Strategies for ACL Injury

24th May 2021

As one of the four major ligaments that provide stability to the knee, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is most likely to be torn often. For athletes, sustaining an ACL injury means a temporary break from sports or the end of their sporting career. 

Nevertheless, ACL injuries are common in sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction such as football, rugby, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Most are non-contact injuries that occur during sudden pivoting motion or when landing from a jump. 

While it takes less than a tenth of a second for the ACL to tear, it takes months and even years to recover. If you want to do what you enjoy for as long as you can, you need to protect your ACL from non-contact injuries.  

In this article, we discuss ACL injury prevention exercises that you can incorporate into your daily activities while reducing the risk of ACL injury.

What are the ACL injury prevention exercises to work out?

The ACL is a stabilising ligament that keeps your knee joint from straightening too far. Unlike your muscle which can be trained or strengthened, your ACL needs to be protected from excessive forces that can cause a tear. The following are some exercises that you can perform as part of your ACL injury prevention strategy.


Single-leg balance

This balance exercise work on all three key areas that protect your ACL from injury. It improves your balance by solidifying your support base, strengthens your core, and improves power production in your glutes.


Here’s what you do:

 Hold your arms like you’re a field goalpost – 90 degrees in each elbow, hands straight up.

 Raise one leg and bend your knee at 90 degrees. Your quad should be parallel to the ground.

 Hold your balance in this position. If you need to regain balance, try hopping on your plant leg instead.

 Keep your glute flexed by “pushing” your plant foot into the ground.

 Switch to the other leg and hold your balance.


Lateral alternating squat

Similar to the previous exercise, the lateral alternating squat improves glute activation and balance. Make sure to keep your back straight and your head up throughout the exercise.


Here’s what you do:

 Stand with your feet hip-width apart and step out 180 degrees to your side.

 Squat down until your quad is parallel to the ground.

 Don’t let your knee move past your toes as you use your glutes to lower and raise your torso.

 Repeat 10 times on one side and the other side.


Controlled Squat jump

When you perform this exercise, make sure to maintain the ideal knee and hip position during your landing. Make your landing soft and controlled by contracting your glutes.


Here’s what you do:

 Keep your knees directly over your toes and raise your arms in front of you at chest level.

 Assume a squat for a 1-2 count. Jump up and return to the squat position. Hold again for a 1-2 count and repeat.

 Do this exercise for 20 seconds.

 Moderate this exercise by determination.


Lunge step

This exercise can build up strength in your hips and thighs, allowing them to provide support for your knees and prevent ACL injuries.


Here’s what you do:

 Stand with your feet together and step forward with one leg, bending your knee to 90 degrees after your foot hits the ground.

 Make sure the front knee remains over the ankle and doesn’t go past step foot.

 Continue moving your body forward by bringing your stationery (back) leg forward, then together with your step leg.

 Alternate legs with each step.

 Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

As you get stronger, you may adapt these exercises to continue the effects of exercising. Bear in mind that as you perform these exercises, sports injuries are always a possibility.

How can I reduce the risks of an ACL injury?

There are steps you can take to minimise the risk factors related to your technique, training, and lifestyle. Here are some recommendations to reduce risks of ACL injury:

 Practise good technique when you train and play a sport. Work with your coach and/or physical therapist to identify the proper sporting form.

 Avoid working out while you’re overly fatigued as it’s easier to make mistakes or forget about good technique. Getting enough rest before the exhaustion sets in help to prevent ACL injury.

 Work to develop muscle groups evenly, especially your core and extremity strength. Focusing on one while ignoring the other increases your risk of injury.

 Create a balance between strength and flexibility as tight and overstretched muscles are more prone to injury.

 Eat a balanced diet to improve your focus and performance. Because poor nutrition leads to decreased strength, endurance and attention.


By performing the ACL injury prevention exercises regularly and taking the steps to minimise the risk of ACL injuries, you can avoid getting ACL surgery. If you’re concerned about your knee’s condition, you can opt for an ACL injury prevention screening at Spire Orthopaedic Centre.

We believe that everyone should be cared for and healed holistically in comfort without having to travel to different locations to seek medical and surgical help and rehabilitation support. 

With a combined facility for collaboration between physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons, you will experience a seamless service from diagnosis to treatment and ACL rehabilitation, that’s tailored just for you at our clinic.