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Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic Oakville & Burlington

Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic Oakville & Burlington

Can We Help You Prevent An ACL Injury? YES! (Updated)


training lower body exercises

Can We Help You Prevent An ACL Injury? YES! (Updated)

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are a significant risk to athletes, with statistics revealing alarming prevalence rates, particularly among university and high school-level athletes. Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics in Oakville and Burlington, recommended as one of the premier clinics in Halton offering Sports Medicine Doctors and specialized therapists, is committed to empowering athletes to prevent ACL injuries through exercise prevention programs. 

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Understanding ACL Injury Risk 

ACL injuries represent a common concern in sports, affecting as many as 1 in 20 university-level and 1 in 50 high school-level athletes annually. The detrimental impact of these injuries on athletes’ performance and overall well-being highlights the importance of proactive prevention strategies. 

Research indicates that preventative rehabilitation and neuromuscular training can significantly reduce ACL injury risk by 24% to 82%. These interventions are particularly crucial for female athletes, who face higher risk levels, and athletes involved in sports involving activities such as jumping, landing and cutting. High risk sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and hockey, require special attention to mitigate ACL injury risks. 

Neuromuscular Training: A Key Preventative Measure 

The majority of ACL injuries occur through non-contact mechanisms, often during deceleration from a landing or lateral pivot movements. Neuromuscular training is an effective strategy for reducing ACL injury risk by addressing three key neuromuscular imbalances: 

  • Ligament Dominance: Athletes exhibit a tendency for ligament dominance, where the joint relies more on ligaments than muscles for support. This imbalance increases stress on the ACL, leading to heightened injury risk. 
  • Quadriceps Dominance: Quadriceps dominance occurs when athletes activate their quadriceps muscles more than their hamstrings during knee movements. This imbalance compromises the ability of the hamstrings to control stress on the ligament, exacerbating ACL injury risk. 
  • Leg Dominance: Athletes with leg dominance imbalances face increased ACL injury risk due to disparities in muscle coordination and strength between limbs. Both weaker and stronger limbs are compromised, increasing vulnerability to injury. 

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Neuromuscular Training: The Path to Prevention 

Neuromuscular training plays a pivotal role in decreasing ACL injury incidence by up to 50%. Here is a list of some of the ways that neuromuscular training can help prevent ACL injuries: 

  • Improved Movement Patterns: Neuromuscular training focuses on enhancing coordination, balance, and proprioception, which are essential for maintaining proper movement patterns during sports activities. By improving movement quality, athletes can reduce the risk of ACL injuries caused by biomechanical flaws or faulty techniques. 
  • Enhanced Joint Stability: Neuromuscular training programs typically include exercises that target the muscles surrounding the knee joint, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip abductors. Strengthening these muscles helps provide better stability to the knee joint, reducing the likelihood of ACL injuries during dynamic movements. 
  • Increased Muscle Strength and Power: Neuromuscular training incorporates exercises designed to improve muscle strength and power, particularly in the lower body. Strengthening the muscles that support the knee can help absorb forces more effectively and reduce the strain on the ACL during activities like jumping, cutting, and pivoting. 
  • Improved Neuromuscular Control: Neuromuscular training aims to enhance neuromuscular control, which refers to the ability of the nervous system to coordinate muscle activation and joint movements efficiently. By enhancing neuromuscular control, athletes can better adapt to sudden changes in direction and maintain proper alignment, reducing the risk of ACL injuries. 
  • Correction of Movement Deficits: Neuromuscular training programs often include exercises that target specific movement deficits and biomechanical imbalances observed in athletes. Addressing these deficits can help correct faulty movement patterns and reduce the risk of ACL injuries associated with poor alignment or improper technique. 
  • Focus on Landing Techniques: Neuromuscular training emphasizes proper landing techniques to reduce the impact forces transmitted through the lower extremities during activities like jumping and landing. Teaching athletes to land softly with proper knee and hip alignment can help minimize stress on the ACL and lower the risk of injury. 
  • Integration of Plyometric Exercises: Plyometric exercises, which involve rapid stretching and contracting of muscles, are commonly included in neuromuscular training programs. These exercises help improve muscle reaction time, agility, and explosiveness, which are important for sports performance and ACL injury prevention. 
  • Long-Term Benefits: Engaging in neuromuscular training not only helps reduce the immediate risk of ACL injuries but also provides long-term benefits for overall athletic performance and injury resilience. Consistent participation in neuromuscular training can help athletes develop fundamental movement skills and reduce the likelihood of ACL injuries throughout their careers. 

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Addressing the Female Athlete Risk Factor 

Female athletes face a disproportionately higher risk of ACL injuries compared to their male counterparts, with incidence rates ranging from 2 to 10 times higher. Several factors contribute to this increased likelihood among female athletes, such as: 

  • Anatomical Differences: Females generally have a wider pelvis compared to males. This can create a larger angle between the thighbone and shinbone, known as the Q angle, which can put more stress on the knee joint and increase the risk of ACL injuries. 
  • Hormonal Factors: Hormonal differences between males and females may affect ligament laxity and joint stability. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can influence ligament elasticity, potentially making female athletes more susceptible to ACL injuries during certain phases of their menstrual cycle. 
  • Muscle Strength Imbalance: Female athletes often have differences in muscle strength and activation patterns compared to males. Weakness in the muscles surrounding the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, or imbalances between these muscle groups, can increase the risk of ACL injuries. 
  • Neuromuscular Control: Females may have different neuromuscular control strategies compared to males. This can affect movement patterns and landing techniques during sports activities, increasing the risk of ACL injuries due to improper alignment and biomechanics. 
  • Biomechanical Factors: Female athletes may exhibit biomechanical characteristics such as increased knee valgus (inward collapse of the knee) during dynamic movements like jumping and landing. This alignment places additional stress on the ACL and can contribute to injury risk. 
  • Training and Conditioning Programs: Historically, training programs for female athletes have not always addressed their specific physiological and biomechanical needs. Insufficient strength training, improper technique instruction, and inadequate warm-up protocols may contribute to increased ACL injury rates among female athletes. 

Addressing these factors through targeted injury prevention programs, strength and conditioning protocols, proper technique training, and education about biomechanics and injury risk can help reduce ACL injury rates among female athletes. 

Implementing an ACL Prevention Program 

An effective ACL injury prevention program typically includes a combination of exercises, drills, and educational components aimed at addressing various risk factors associated with ACL injuries. Collaboration between athletes, coaches, and healthcare professionals is essential in promoting injury prevention.  Here’s a list of elements commonly included in ACL injury prevention programs: 

  • Dynamic Warm-Up: A structured warm-up routine that includes dynamic stretches and movements to increase blood flow, flexibility, and joint mobility, preparing the body for physical activity. 
  • Strength Training: Exercises targeting the muscles surrounding the knee joint, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip abductors, and core muscles. Strength training helps improve joint stability, muscle balance, and overall lower body strength, reducing the risk of ACL injuries. 
  • Neuromuscular Control Exercises: Activities focused on improving neuromuscular control, proprioception, and balance. These exercises typically involve single-leg stance, balance board drills, and agility drills to enhance coordination and body awareness, reducing the risk of ACL injuries during dynamic movements. 
  • Plyometric Training: Plyometric exercises that emphasize controlled jumping and landing techniques. Plyometrics help improve muscle reaction time, power, and explosiveness while teaching athletes to absorb and dissipate forces effectively during activities like jumping, cutting, and pivoting. 
  • Technique Instruction: Instruction on proper movement mechanics and landing techniques specific to the athlete’s sport or activity. Coaches and trainers provide feedback on body positioning, alignment, and foot placement to minimize stress on the ACL and reduce the risk of injury. 
  • Sports-Specific Drills: Incorporation of sports-specific drills and exercises that mimic the movement patterns and demands of the athlete’s sport. These drills help athletes develop functional strength, agility, and proprioceptive skills relevant to their performance while reducing the risk of ACL injuries. 
  • Flexibility and Mobility Exercises: Stretching and mobility exercises targeting tight muscles and improving joint range of motion. Enhanced flexibility can help prevent muscle imbalances, reduce joint stress, and improve movement efficiency, decreasing the likelihood of ACL injuries. 
  • Individualized Programming: Tailoring the prevention program to meet the specific needs, abilities, and injury history of each athlete. Individualized programming ensures that athletes receive appropriate training volume, intensity, and progression to optimize effectiveness and adherence. 
  • Consistency and Progression: Emphasis on consistent participation and gradual progression of exercises and drills over time. Athletes adhere to a structured training schedule, gradually increasing the difficulty and intensity of exercises to promote adaptation and reduce injury risk. 

By incorporating these elements into a comprehensive ACL injury prevention program, athletes can improve their physical readiness, enhance performance, and reduce the likelihood of ACL injuries during sports and physical activities. 

Sheddon Physiotherapy: Your Partner in Injury Prevention 

At Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Oakville and Burlington, our team is dedicated to helping athletes mitigate ACL injury risks and optimize their performance. Through comprehensive assessments, personalized treatment plans, and proactive injury prevention strategies, we empower athletes to excel in their respective sports while safeguarding their long-term musculoskeletal health. We also have Sheddon physiotherapists within the Oakville Athletic Academy, a fitness facility, which is a great location to work on sport specific drills and exercise prevention programs with a physiotherapist. 


ACL injuries present significant challenges for athletes, but with the guidance of Sheddon Physiotherapy in Oakville and Burlington, prevention is within reach. By prioritizing neuromuscular training, addressing neuromuscular imbalances, and implementing tailored prevention programs, athletes can reduce ACL injury risks and pursue their athletic endeavors with confidence. 

For more information on ACL injury prevention and personalized care, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics in Oakville and Burlington at 905-849-4576. Conveniently located near Oakville Place, Oakville GO Station, LaSalle Park, and Burlington Golf & Country Club, we are committed to supporting athletes in their journey to optimal performance and injury resilience. 

We are located only 6 min East of Oakville Place and 7 min from Oakville Go Station.

The Burlington physio clinic is located only 8 min north-east of LaSalle Park and 10 min north of Burlington Golf & Country Club, on Plains Rd East.

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