Updated: Oct 18
Reduce ACL Injury Risk With These 3 Exercises
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee is susceptible to tears, especially if you play sports like basketball, soccer, football, or skiing. However, including ACL injury prevention exercises in your regular workouts can help strengthen your knees and lower body to reduce strain on that crucial ligament.
Here are 3 key exercises to focus on:
Squats should form the foundation of your ACL prevention training. Done properly, squats strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, core, and entire lower body. This provides stability and support for your knee joint.
When doing squats:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
- Bend knees and shift hips back to lower down like you’re sitting in a chair.
- Make sure knees track in line with toes, do not let them cave inward.
- Press through heels to return to standing.
- Complete 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Over time, aim to progress to single-leg squats for an added challenge.
2. Hamstring Curls
Your hamstrings run along the back of your thighs and play a key role in stabilizing your knees. Hamstring curls on a machine or exercise ball target these muscles.
- Lie face down with machine pad or exercise ball under your ankles.
- Bend knees to raise feet toward your glutes, keeping core engaged.
- Slowly straighten legs to return to start position.
- Complete 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Hamstring flexibility is also important for ACL health, so stretch them regularly.
3. Calf Raises
Calf strength supports proper knee alignment and impact absorption. Calf raises can be done on both legs or one leg at a time.
- Stand on a step or block, engage core.
- Raise up onto balls of feet, hold 1 second.
- Slowly lower heels down, keeping tension in calves.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Here is my favorite piece of equipment for Calf Raises
Work these exercises into your routine 2-3 times per week to keep your ACL strong and reduce injury risk. Proper form is key, so start light and progress slowly to build functional stability.