5 Tips to Help Teenage Athletes Avoid ACL Injuries

Written by:
Dr. Kelly Jones
May 17, 2022

I am passionate about helping people prevent and rehabilitate knee injuries. When I was 15 years old, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing competitive soccer. This injury and the subsequent months of physical therapy inspired me to become a physical therapist. 

I know how it feels to go through something that could disrupt and potentially end someone’s athletic career. I believe that, if I had been evaluated by a professional prior to this injury, I could have significantly reduced my risk of getting injured.

Adolescents tend to be prone to knee problems, especially when playing sports that require cutting activities such as soccer, basketball, and tennis. ACL sprains and tears, in particular, are common during puberty due to changes in center of gravity (from growing), body mechanics and alignment. There are also some hormonal influences. These changes can create muscle compensations and altered motor control patterns that could set someone up for injury. 

Most people think that ACL injuries occur due to direct contact on the soccer field. However, the most common mechanisms of injury are actually non-contact such as knee hyper-extension, deceleration, cutting, and improper landing. For instance, I tore my left ACL independently, while planting my left leg to shoot a goal.

Five Tips to Prevent ACL Injury:

1. Consult with a qualified physical therapist to discover and correct any specific muscle imbalances and compensation patterns.

2. Do exercises provided by your PT before ANY sport-related activities (training, practice, games, etc.).

 

3. Crosstrain such as strength training, agility, loading, landing, and cutting activities.

 

4. Implement a preseason training program to build muscle control and prevent injury in the regular season.

 

5. Focus on your hip and knee joint alignment during sport related activities.

 

To learn more about how a physical therapist can help with knee injuries, click here

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Kelly Jones

Physical Therapist
Kelly Jones is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) specializing in orthopedic conditions with a special interest in soccer. She works at Activcore in Atlanta, Georgia, located just 2 miles from Emory University. She also works at Activcore in Johns Creek, GA located inside the Medical Fitness and Wellness Group.
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