ACL epidemic

ACL injuries for kids have become an epidemic in the States. Adolescent girls suffer the most, in sports that include a lot of unpredictable cutting like soccer, basketball, etc.

My understanding of the literature as to why this is happening, can be distilled down to a lack of structural balance.

One thread seems to be ‘quad-dominant’ athletes, with strong muscles on the front of the thigh, but weak hammies.

Another common thread is overuse with one side of the body…think athlete that kicks a ball hundreds of times with 1 leg, and a couple times with the other.

Lastly, athletes are adding weight and getting bigger muscles, but AREN’T proportionally building up the structures that MOVE those muscles, ie feet, ankles, calves, tibialis, knees, vmo’s.

Every pound added above the waist corresponds to an exponential weight impacted at the knee. We experience 2x the impact at the knee just walking flat ground. So if a 150 pound athlete is dynamically moving, jumping, twisting, stopping…it’s just common sense that the demands that are trying to pull that knee apart are incredibly high!

What can we do though? We can build from the ground up first. We know that any force not taken by the foot and ankle…travels up to the knee. It’s a kinetic chain. So bulletproof the hell out of the foot, ankle, tib…to HELP prevent. Remember, this isn’t a guarantee…but it IS a wise investment.

We can then train to achieve closer to structural balance, relentlessly identifying and pursuing weak links…NOT just continually adding weight to the lifts we like to do.

Lastly, we can train the Nordic exercise. This movement works the tissues that hold the knee together, and fight that pulling-apart action.

This is a cheap and accessible piece of equipment that should be in every gym! I was so focused on my bench and squat numbers when I played my sport. I wish I pursued being able to do even 1 repetition of a Nordic! I can still only do the eccentric portion (downward movement) after about 6 months of trying. Please send me info of any high schooler that can do a strict Nordic! I would be so happy for this kid! I believe that making the Nordic a ‘cool’ exercise would prevent a ton of ACL surgeries.

kia kaha,

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