Elite Sports Performance believes in purposeful performance training with injury prevention at the core of our values. For young athletes, no injury can be as painful – physically, emotionally and mentally – as a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The injury, which occurs entirely too often across all levels of sports, is usually caused by a sudden deceleration or landing maneuver with the leg in a vulnerable position. Although ACL injuries are most often seen in team sports, 70 percent are non-contact injuries – often meaning the athlete reacts to a nearby player, and the sudden movement causes the ACL tear.
After an initial diagnosis and a round of physical therapy, ACL surgery follows. Worse, often times, the procedure takes longer than anticipated because doctors may find there was also a meniscal (cartilage) tear. Three days after the surgery, it is back to physical therapy. During the six-to-twelve months of therapy, athletes essentially start over - learning how to jump and land properly to minimize the chances of re-injuring the ACL. While some freak athletes like Adrian Peterson are able to make a full recovery, most athletes find that they are not as explosive as they once were. Worse, the injury can be detrimental on an athlete’s psyche – as some believe is the case with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose.
Recent studies have shown that young female athletes sustain more ACL injuries than young males. In fact, young women are two to eight times more likely than their male counterparts to injure that ligament, according to Dr. Barry Boden of the Orthopedic Center in Rockville, Md. There are many different theories as to why young women suffer a higher rate of ACL injuries. "One thought is that women have more of a knock-knee alignment," says Dr. Boden, who is conducting research on the injury with funding from the National Institutes of Health. "The alignment of women's knees tends to bend inward when women land." Some researchers believe that this inward bend may predispose women to ACL injuries. Dr. Boden says there are other theories based on how estrogen affects the ligament, as well as the idea that women are "ligament dominant" rather than "muscle dominant."
One of the major reasons any athlete suffers ACL damage is because they land in a flat-footed position, as opposed to landing on the balls of their feet. If the force is not being absorbed by the calf muscles and the knee is in improper position, the likelihood of the knee buckling increases dramatically.
Through years in athletics as players, coaches and trainers, our staff has seen the injury – and the six to nine month rehab that follows – take its toll on many. However, we believe in taking several precautions with our athletes to prevent this injury from occurring. Our thorough assessment process allows us to find athletes who are “at risk.” The video below shows an example of our “prehab” workouts to minimize the chances of an ACL tear. Since each athlete enrolled in ESP gets their own custom workout, an athlete may have all or none of the workouts incorporated into their program based on their needs.