Preventing ACL Injuries in Young Athletes

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Preventing ACL Injuries in Young Athletes: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm in August 17, 2018.

ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, injuries are common among student athletes, especially girls. But there are things they can do to help prevent them.

David Hammond, 16, of Mount Airy is a life-long baseball player. He says he does whatever he can to avoid getting hurt.

"Preventing is always better than fixing," he said.

Physical therapist Chris McKenzie of McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy says a common problem among young athletes, especially soccer and basketball players is an ACL or anterior cruciate ligament, injury.

It can happen through contact such as what happened to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, or non-contact.

"Such as when you plant and cut and your body goes one way and the knee kind of stays or the knee goes the opposite way," McKenzie explained.

In this case, he says there's evidence to show certain exercises can help lower your risk. He takes David through three of them.

Starting with a side plank with a leg lift. Move the top leg straight up while holding hips up in a straight line.

This helps to strengthen the hip abductor muscles, which are the muscles that pull the leg away from the body.

Work up to doing three sets of ten, each leg.

The next exercise is a one-legged squat.

"We're going to stand on one leg, keep pelvis level and the hip, knee and foot should be in a straight line." McKenzie said pretend to be sitting in a chair while balancing on the one leg but be sure to keep your knee straight and not leaning in or out.

Three sets of 10, each leg.

The last exercise is a plank. Hold your body straight like a plank of wood just touching your elbows and toes on the floor. (Your elbows should be slightly in front of your shoulders.) Press your body through your shoulder blades. Hold for 30 seconds and try to do three times.

The moves build hip and core strength, and along with improving balance, Chris says it'll help lower the risk of suffering an ACL tear.

He also preaches to do a dynamic, or moving warm-up such as leg swings and jumps to get blood flowing before a game or practice.

For the exercises, he recommends athletes do them three times a week during the season and work up to every day on the off-season.
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