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Prevent knee injuries with these tips and exercises

Posted Sep 10 2011 3:51pm

If you’re an active woman, your knee joint may be at risk. Some athletic associations report that women are six times more likely to have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL, which provides knee stability) tear than men.

However, you can diminish the risk by doing specific moves and knowing how to land safely.

The majority of ACL injuries occur from noncontact mechanisms such as landing, deceleration, and lateral pivoting.

Do you know how to land?

No matter if you play sports or simply do plyometrics (explosive jumps), you need to know how to land. According to the Journal of Biomechanics, landing correctly can reduce the sheer load by 100 percent.

Consider these three elements:

a)    Jump higher to land more steeply

b)    Land on your toes-balls of the feet

c)    Bend the knees more deeply before taking off again

Understanding the hassles

In the article “Real-Time Assessment and Neuromuscular Training Feedback Techniques to Prevent ACL Injury in Female Athletes” published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (June 2011), the authors identify four neuromuscular control deficits (muscle strength power or activation patters that may increase the risk of ACL injury).

  1. Ligament dominance: inability to control lower extremity frontal plane motion when landing or cutting
  2. Quadriceps dominance: an imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings in strength, coordination and muscle fiber recruitment
  3. Leg dominance: an imbalance between the two legs in strength, coordination and recruitment
  4. Core dysfunction: the imbalance between the external and internal forces around the core to stabilize and to control the trunk

Action plan

This routine will help you to work on all four trouble areas listed above. Perform this routine twice a week, alternating days. Besides having healthy knees, you also gain stronger, toned legs and work the core.

Note: Think of having surgery?

Don’t necessarily turn to ACL reconstruction as a first method of treatment. In a research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a research group from Lund University showed that 60 percent of ACL surgeries could be avoided without negatively affecting treatment outcomes.


Warm up 5 to 10 minutes either by doing dynamic type of stretching or a cardio type of activity.

Perform the routine as it goes

a) Giant set: Asymmetrical Bulgarian split squat, lateral box over and single-leg reaches. Do one exercise after another for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Rest 60-90 seconds after you complete one giant set.

b) Super set: One arm KB swings with frontal walks and split stance Zerchers. Do one exercise after another for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Rest 60-90 seconds after you complete one giant set.Make sure that at all times, you keep the back straight, core embraced and chest up.

  • Make sure that at all times, you keep the back straight, core embraced and chest up.
  • Use dumbbells and a kettlebell for one of the exercises. However, all can be performed with dumbbells.
  • Regardless the numbers of reps, the last two should be hard to perform.

The exercises:

Asymmetrical Bulgarian: You can either hold the dumbbell overhead or by your side. Raising it further engages the core. Place one foot on a bench behind you and lower your body using the strength of the forward leg, which should comfortable be at about 90 degrees in the bottom position.

Lateral box overs: This can also be done over a step or box. Do a lateral shuffle stepping on the Bosu ball with the trailing leg. Repeat going the other direction.























Single leg reaches: The idea is to reach to each side as much as you can every time so that your body comes up and down while maintaining good form. Hips shouldn’t sag or rotate. On the leg anchoring you to the ground, the knee should be slightly bent.




















One arm KB swings with frontal walks: Although it’s not illustrated in the photo, try to use a single arm swing. As you do a kettlebell swing, using your hips to generate the force, take a side step. As you take the second step allow the kettlebell to drop between your legs. Repeat the walking swing.


Single-leg Good Morning: Keep your back and neck aligned, back straight and bend up to the point where you are still maintaing good form. Hips should go back and truly stretch and resist the weight when you bend at the hip. Use the hamstrings and the gluteus to raise yourself up. You can substitute dumbbells with a bar or a medicine ball in front to do split-stance Zerchers. Switch legs for the next set.



Science Daily: “More than half of All ACL Reconstructions could be avoided, Swedish study finds” (July 2010)

Strength and Conditioning Journal: “Real-Time Assessment and Neuromuscular Training Feedback Techniques to prevent ACL injury in female athletes”.(Volume 33, number 3, June 2011) pages 21-35

Essentials of Strength training and Conditioning. National Strength and Conditioning Association. Third Edition.

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