Lately we have had a number of people come to our clinic after having their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstructed. The ACL is one of the major stabilizing structures in the knee. When this ligament is torn, people generally having feelings of instability (feeling like their knee is popping out), which affects their ability to run, do sports, stairs, and other functional activities. For these reasons, and due to the fact that the ACL doesn’t generally repair itself, people often opt for surgery. ACL surgery is invasive and often requires 6 months or more of rehabilitation. So, is it possible to prevent an ACL injury from occurring in the first place?
A recent systematic review by Gagnier et al. in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (2013) sought out to answer this question.
The findings in this study were promising. They found that neuromuscular training and education can have a significant effect on reducing the occurrence of these traumatic injuries. In fact, interventions such as specific strengthening, proprioceptive training (essentially balance), and plyometric training (explosive movements) reduced ACL injuries by 50%. Predictors of these improvements included longer follow up by the physiotherapist, longer training periods, and compliance with the exercise program.
Although this study wasn’t designed to discover which specific exercises can reduce ACL injuries, it did prove that physiotherapists have a role in reducing these injuries through neuromuscular exercise and education.
If you are an athlete concerned about injuring your ACL, or you’ve recently had an ACL repair, come and see one of our highly skilled physiotherapists for your prehab/rehab needs!