There is a high occurrence of ACL injuries among female athletes in American sports. Even with the benefits of various training programs their injuries are prevalent and frequent. Most of these injuries are sustained without the incidence of contact, occurring when the athlete is landing from a jump, decelerating, or pivoting on one foot while running. ACL injuries can be caused by a myriad of things including Q-angle, which is the relation among the pelvis, leg, and the foot. Recruitment patterns, connective tissue integrity, and bilateral deficits also have implications on ACL injuries. Before athletes, coaches, and trainers implement plyometric protocols, all the aforementioned factors must be addressed.
Four Things You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of ACL Injury
1. Strengthen VMO to address knee stability, thus reducing the degree of the Q-angle.
2. Strengthen the muscles in the posterior chain with exercises such as: goodmornings, Romanian deadlift, Glute/Ham raise, hip thrust, and eccentric hamstring curls.
3. Perform appropriate stretches and soft tissue work to improve flexibility and soft tissue extensibility. This will ease the burden of the connective tissue, which bears the brunt of muscular imbalances and tightness.
4. Women contract their quadriceps earlier during lower body weight bearing exercises thus increasing anterior tibial translation, which may induce ACL strain and incite the possibility of injury. Conversely, men recruit hamstrings first, which helps stabilize the knee during landing and cutting. Implementing a glute and hamstring activation exercises in training is recommended.
You must prepare the female athlete’s body first; then you can implement a plyometric program. Too many athletes are entering high volume, high intensity, and high impact jumping programs that their bodies are not prepared for! Work on these items and stay tuned for a Plyometric Program designed specifically for female athletes.