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Runners Tech: Review-, ACL Injury Prevention Program

Posted Jul 11 2012 9:14am

We often hear the term “ACL injury” when we watch high impact sports such as football, basketball, soccer, etc. Positioned within the knee, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) keeps the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shinbone)  aligned and stabilized. Biomechanically speaking, the human knee is well adapted to traveling forward (although relatively slowly) – but it’s terribly fragile at handling rapid lateral movements that occur frequently in sports. As a runner, your chances of ACL injury are lower than that of people who regularly participate in activities that may add impact or sudden twisting or turning to the knee. However, although slim, there is still a possibility that running can lead to ACL injury – by rapid deceleration (breaking hard).

Regardless of how minuscule your risk of blowing out the knee, it makes sense to strengthen the ACL (and other ligaments, tendons) as a preventative measure. Recently I’ve been invited by Bench Busters to check out its ACL injury prevention program. I was offered a 30-day trial period to access their lifetime membership content ($29.99) for review.  Before I get into the workout routines, let me clarify on exactly what you’ll get with a subscription:

  • Unlimited access of a 34-minute instructional video detailing each routine
  • A downloadable, printable 43-page PDF manual that compliments the video

The video guides you through 36 routines that aim to exercise and stretch the lower body as well as engage the hip and the core. These routines include simple and common drills like lunges and squads, as well as more complicated poses that involve using a chair or an exercise ball. The instructor of the video is clear in communication and easy to understand. However, since all the routines are in one video file, it’s a difficult to find each pose without having to guess and search within the movie. Bench Buster recommends viewing the video numerous times before attempting the exercises.

In addition, the user manual highlights each exercise in further, noting key elements that tie to the effectiveness of the program. Every pose is illustrated with an appropriate diagram as well as goals and reminders. This printable manual can be particularly useful if you don’t have access to the video while performing the routines.

While the video and the manual are effective in demonstration, it is unclear to me how often these exercises should be performed (somewhere on Bench Busters’ website it seems to suggest “30 minutes spent 3 days a week…”). Also, depending on individual fitness level and injury history, it may be difficult for some people to follow through the entire program successfully. And there is no indication of difficulty level of each routine, or how one should approach and progress through the program.

The price tag of $29.99 seems a bit steep if you consider the fact that each routine of the Bench Busters ACL injury prevention program can be found in other programs from magazines, books, or fitness articles online. But what you really pay for is a simple-to-follow instructional video and manual that serve as a good reference tool to help you strengthen the lower body. Individuals can benefit the most from this program if they are looking for a program to strengthen the lower-body – including ACL.

What suggestions do you have for injury prevention? Do you find yourself having the same injuries over and over again?

- Kevin

(Kevin Lu is an engineer, currently working in the field of orthopedic devices. He received his B.S. and M.S. in biomedical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Science, technology, and running are Kevin’s passions. In his spare time, Kevin trains for and participates in races of various distances. His recent personal records include 20:58/5K and 5:48:22/50K. Follow him on Twitter (@ SweatEngine ) and check out his blog Beyond Distance .)

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