Don’t be the Next Derrick Rose: 3 Easy Exercises to Help Protect your ACL
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Don’t be the Next Derrick Rose.
ACL injuries happen in the blink of an eye. They can happen while landing from a jump, decelerating from a sprint, planting and twisting on the court, or by being hit by another player. It is up to you to make sure your body is protected against all but the most freak of injury incidents. Here are three simple exercises that you can add into your current training program to safeguard you against ACL injuries.
One Arm Farmer’s Walk
Lateral trunk motion during two leg and single leg landing and cutting movements often leads to excessive knee instability, which will put your ACL at risk for injury. Many athletes lack the neuromuscular control and strength required throughout their trunk and hips in order to prevent lateral trunk motion. The single arm farmer’s walk is a simple, yet effective drill to help develop the neuromuscular control and strength required to help prevent knee instability during sport participation.
Many variations of the single arm farmer’s walk exist, but the simplest involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your side, maintain proper posture.
- Be sure to keep your chest proud, shoulders packed, lats flared, stomach braced, pelvis tucked under and neck stable.
The ability to safely and effectively accept the force produced when landing from a jump, and achieve optimal quadriceps-hamstring co-contraction is critical for preventing anterior tibial translation and knee instability in any sport where landing, cutting, and deceleration occur. A properly performed drop landing will teach you to achieve the 40° knee flexion that has been proven ideal for quadriceps-hamstring co-activation. It is also very important to ensure that both legs are responsible for accepting the same amount of force from the drop; therefore, be sure to land with symmetrical force distribution in each leg.
- Start with a low drop height, progressively adding height as your strength and technique improves. Land with your toes hitting the ground first, rolling back onto your heels. Drive your knees outwards upon landing, do NOT allow your knees to turn inwards.
Sprinting Wall Drills
Athletes who possess tight hip flexors, and weak gluteus (backside) muscles, are at higher risk for ACL injury. This tightness or weakness will lead to internal rotation at the hip, which is a culprit for knee instability. One simple drill that can be utilized to lengthen the hip flexors, and help activate the gluteus muscle fibres, while also working on your sprinting ability, are sprinting wall drills. This drill will also teach proper hip dissociation (concurrent terminal hip extension in one leg and flexion in the other, which is a very important fundamental movement pattern).
Perform this drill by assuming a 45° lean towards a wall or hard vertical surface. Fully extend one hip, while fully flexing at the other hip (dorsi-flexed foot under knee), making sure to maintain a neutral spine.
- You may perform this drill as a static hold, progressing to a slow march, and further to an explosive single exchange, and finally a double and triple exchange. An athlete with mobile and strong hips should progress to more ‘sport specific’ sprinting and movement drills.