ACL Injuries

May 5, 2023

Undoubtedly you have heard of an ACL injury, likely to somebody who plays a high-impact sport like soccer or football. Unfortunately, according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, “the annual reported incidence in the United States alone is approximately 1 in 3500 people. However, data may not be accurate as there is no standard surveillance.”

We want to share what the ACL is, why it’s so important, and some ways you may be able to prevent injuring yours. 

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most important ligaments in the knee joint, along with the posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and lateral collateral ligament. It is responsible for stabilizing the knee joint and preventing excessive forward movement of the tibia bone in relation to the femur bone. It is a strong, rope-like structure that runs diagonally through the knee joint, from the back of the femur bone to the front of the tibia bone. 

As mentioned before, ACL injuries are common, particularly among athletes who participate in high-impact sports. ACL injuries can occur in a number of ways, but they most commonly occur during high-impact sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing. The most common causes of ACL injuries include:

  • Landing awkwardly from a jump
  • Twisting or pivoting the knee while the foot is planted
  • Direct contact to the knee, such as during a tackle or collision
  • Hyperextension of the knee joint

While there is no clear bias between the prevalence of this type of injury happening to males or females, it has been suggested that women are at increased risk of ACL injury secondary to a multitude of factors. For example, some studies suggest that females may have weaker hamstrings and preferentially utilize the quadriceps muscle group while decelerating. There are some other reasons that researchers attribute to a higher prevalence in females, but there hasn’t been enough research conducted yet. 

This goes without saying, but if you feel you have had an injury like this or might be at risk for one, please contact a doctor like our great physical therapist or chiropractor so they can find the best help for you. Regardless of your sport, it’s never a bad thing to strengthen your knees and the muscles that support them. The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey recommends the following exercises, but of course there are more specific things that a physical therapist like Dr. Maggs, for example, might implement in order to prevent an ACL injury:

  • Walking Lunges - Lunges strengthen the thigh muscles (quadriceps).

  • Calf raises - This exercise can strengthen the muscles in the calf (back of the lower leg) and improve overall balance.

  • Squats - Squats can help strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles while also improving balance.

  • Split Jumps - Several studies have shown these to be one of the best ACL injury prevention exercises. This can be a difficult exercise to perform correctly, but it is important to gradually increase the duration and intensity of split jumps to ensure the best results. They should only be done for as long as the strength and stamina are available to perform them perfectly.

After an ACL injury, operation is common, though not always necessary. The decision to undergo surgery is based on factors like a patient’s baseline level of physical activity, functional demands, age, occupation, and other associated injuries, if present. Again, consulting an orthopedic doctor or physical therapist is crucial at this stage. After an ACL injury there will likely be some form of rehabilitation, which might include the following:

  • Range of motion exercises: gentle exercises to improve the flexibility and mobility of the knee joint.

  • Strengthening exercises: exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 

  • Balance and stability exercises: exercises to improve balance and stability in the knee joint.

  • Cardiovascular exercises: low-impact cardiovascular exercises, such as swimming or cycling, can help maintain cardiovascular fitness without putting stress on the knee joint.

  • Plyometric exercises: these exercises involve jumping and other explosive movements, and can help improve neuromuscular control and reduce the risk of future injuries.

Most injuries are pretty serious, but an ACL injury, especially for an athlete, can be a career-ending injury. We can’t say for sure who is at risk and who isn’t so please come see us for more in-depth evaluation and education. In the meantime, try some of those exercises we listed to avoid an injury like this, and come see our training department if you have questions about performing them!


Regardless of your sport, it’s never a bad thing to strengthen your knees and the muscles that support them.

Peak Performance Care

in Sonora CA

13949 Mono Way

PO Box 4143

Sonora, CA 95370


(209) 532 1288

Fax: (209) 230 9529

Monday/Wednesday: 8am-5:30pm

Tuesday/Thursday: 6am-5pm

Friday: 6am-2pm

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