This year, there will be over 200,000 people walking around with a new ACL. There is a 10% chance of sustaining a second ACL injuring, while females are twice as likely to reinjure their ACL. Here are three key factors and exercises for those who had ACL reconstruction to help you progress in your post rehab training.
More commonly known as “knock knee” due to a weakness in the hip abductors. This weakness causes an increase in internal rotation of the hips creating a dangerous angle from the hip to the knee ( Q Angle ).
Exercise 1: Resistance Band Monster Walks
1. Resistance band is placed just above/below knee
2. Keep an athletic position – Feet shoulder width apart, half squat, hips back, tall chest
3. Step laterally keeping the athletic position and never letting knees come together
*The slower and more controlled, the greater the burn!
Hamstring + Glute Strength / Flexibility:
For those walking around with sore knees – It is most likely due to overactive quads. The hamstring muscle group acts to protect the ACL while the opposing quadriceps muscle group places stress on the ACL. Proper engagement of the glutes is mandatory through all lower extremity strengthening.
Exercise 2: Single Leg Glute Bridge
1. Start by lying on the back, with both legs bent at 90 degrees
2. Lift one leg straight in the air, the other stays at 90 degrees
3. Squeeze the glutes, tighten the core and lift the hips by driving through the heel of the foot
* While you feel the burn in one glute, notice the stretch in the raised hamstring!
The ACL has mechanically sensitive nerve receptors (proprioceptors) which sense the position of the knee joint. Without extensive training, the new ACL will struggle to develop these proprioceptors to stimulate the appropriate musculature to stabilize the joint. Try performing common exercises on a Bosu ball, or performing each exercise single leg.
Exercise 3: Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift
1. Balance on one leg with a slight bend at the knee
2. With a weight emphasis on the heel, slowly kick back the opposing leg, tilting the hips forward
3. The spine stays neutral along with the neck. Imagine a straight line from the neck all the way to the heel.
4. Hold for a 3 count and return to neutral
*Keeping hands on hips will help control the spine and abdomen!
Focus and Form
A majority of ACL injuries occur through dynamic change in direction and improper landing mechanics. Proper strengthening of muscles surrounding the knee provides significant opportunity to decrease the risk of sustaining an ACL injury. Activating the proprioceptors in the knee through balance training will provide neural feedback for those situations of active twisting and turning. Performing these 3 exercises will only take 20 minutes, and in long term will help reduce the risk of re-injury.
Janaye Dzikewich, MS Exercise Physiologist