Keep your knees safe: ACL injury prevention

The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is the ligament in the middle of the knee. It prevents the shinbone from sliding out in front of the thighbone. ACL injury prevention includes knowing how you can get hurt and knowing how to stay safe.

An ACL injury can occur if you:

  • Get hit very hard on the side of your knee
  • Overextend the knee joint
  • Quickly stop moving and change direction while running, landing from a jump or turning 

ACL injury prevention through knowledge

The ACL is important to maintaining a stable knee in activities and sports that require quick changes in direction, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball and football.

Females are at four to six times greater risk than males of injuring their ACLs during sports. The exact reasons for this increased risk are yet to be fully understood, but differences in muscle firing, hormones and anatomy have been suggested. Although ACL injury prevention is not possible in all cases, several studies have demonstrated that strength and plyometric (jump) training can decrease the risk for injury.