5 Lesser Known Tips to Avoid ACL and Other Knee Related Injuries : A torn anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL for short) is notorious for being one of the most painfully incapacitating injuries on the market, often requiring surgical measures and endless rehabilitation to avoid further permanent damage. Even worse, is that this specific style of ligament trouble is four to eight times more likely to occur in women athletes, and nobody really knows why.
Studies have hypothesized that perhaps this gender inequality is a result of the significantly smaller quadriceps angle in females, as well as highlighting that women tend to primarily activate these same quadriceps when performing a jump, as opposed to the male’s more hamstring orientated action. But the reasons hardly seem like the primary concern here. The question is: how do you avoid it?
Well, there are your warm-ups, your target exercising, your core training, and practicing flat-footed landings… but you’ve heard all of this before. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the lesser known steps you can take to prevent an ACL dilemma within your workout schedule.
Certain Sports Demand Extra Care
ACL tearing has earned itself the reputation of being a typical sports-related knee injury, while up to 80% of these mishaps were from a non-contact incident. This is why, when taking part in activities which involve a lot of sudden twisting and turning responses, you should pay additional attention to the movement of your knees, and be vigilant about your preparation routine before you even begin. The most guilty of sports which involve these abrupt pivoting movements include: netball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, hockey, dance, gymnastics, and skiing, to mention only a few. If you have any history of ACL troubles, rather avoid these examples altogether and get your kicks from less intensive directional sports such as jogging, swimming, and biking.
Be Wary of Your Footwear
Selecting the correct shoes for your chosen physical ventures is no secret, but it’s the footwear worn during your social time which may prove to be the most problematic. There have been various studies linking a myriad of fitness issues to high-heel fashion, including general foot pain, altering the alignment of your spine, and of course, your friend, ACL tears. When your heel is lifted, your weight falls forward, forcing your quadriceps to work harder to keep your knees straight, which over a prolonged period of time will naturally lead to trouble. You should always avoid shoving your foot into something that doesn’t fit just because it looks good, and practice drawing your heel back when walking in your new pair of stilettos, developing an acute awareness of what your hamstrings are telling you.
Consider a Knee Brace
If you already feel some pain in your knee coming on, or if you have a history of these complications, or even if you’re simply terrified of the injury idea altogether, a knee brace for working out may deliver the peace of mind you seek. The concept behind this additional support is to provide a little extra stability to your joint, maintaining control over your motion whilst preventing any sudden movements which may inflict harm on your precious ligaments. Furthermore, those athletes who have a taste for contact sports (such as soccer or basketball) could benefit from the added protective padding from the brace, absorbing some of the impact and reducing the chance of severe damage.
Don’t Skip Your Cool-Down Stretches!
Everyone understands the importance of their warm-up routine, but so many underestimate the cooling-down process after their regular exercise program. These closing motions help prevent a stockpile of lactic acid, keeping your ligaments flexible, loosening any tightness, and in turn, avoiding these potentially painful injuries. By stretching out your quadriceps and hamstrings for only a few minutes, your chances of survival improve dramatically, and it is also a great way to pay respect to the workout you’ve just achieved, giving you something to look forward to at the end of each session. You’ve earned this winding down time.
Your Menstrual Cycle
Finally, let’s look at the highly controversial and much debated topic of whether your ever generous period plays a role in all of this. Some studies have indicated a higher susceptibility to injury during the menstrual cycle, blaming hormonal changes in your body (mostly estrogen, progesterone, and relaxins) for loosening your joints, which has been said to risk the likelihood of trauma. That said, this information has been contradicted by other reports which assert there is no direct correlation between these two factors. Regardless, until a definite answer is finalized, you may want to take this data with a pinch of salt, and mix that salt in with your regular exercise regime, taking your cycle into consideration too.
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