ACL reconstruction surgery is generally very successful with a low complication rate. Until recently the re-rupture rate of the graft has been higher than we would have liked for female athletes returning to their sports.
The Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Foundation studied the problem and designed an ACL Prevention exercise program which has been shown to be successful.
This program is a highly specific 15-minute training session that replaces the traditional warm-up. It should be performed at least twice a week and teaches the athlete strategies to avoid injury by:
- Increasing strength
- Increasing flexibility
- Increasing proprioception
- Avoiding vulnerable positions
- Including plyometric exercises in training
Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed). It involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before it contracts so that it contracts with greater force). Examples include hops, jumps and bounding movements (like jumping off a box and rebounding off the floor and onto another, higher box). These exercises typically increase speed and strength and build power. It is important to use proper technique during jumping moves (jump straight up and down jumps without excessive side-to-side movement), and aim for soft landings.
This new information makes what has always been a successful operation even more reliable for our patients.