The ACL. It’s a term thrown around quite often in sports like soccer, basketball and football and it can cause a world of problems to the athlete who damages it. So, what exactly is the ACL? The term ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. This is a tiny ligament found in the knee joint with a BIG job. The ACL helps keep the knee in alignment when you twist, jump, cut, or kick the ball. ACL tears are most predominant in young female athletes who participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball and lacrosse, all of which involve twisting, cutting, jumping and landing.
You would never really notice the tiny ligament unless you have injured it. I’m sure you know someone, perhaps a teammates or a friend who has torn their ACL. Ask them what they felt at the time of the injury. Most will say that they felt a painful tear and heard a “pop.” Basically, when it happens, you know it.
Athletes that tear their ACL must face a long road of recovery. They will have to have knee surgery. After surgery, they will go through a grueling rehabilitation period for at least 6 months. Therapy is tough and sometimes painful but completely necessary to get that knee close to 100%. On top of surgery and therapy, the injured athlete will sit out the rest of the season, miss classes, and possibly scholarship opportunities. All in all, it can be a devastating injury.
Some injuries suffered on the field simply cannot be avoided. This is the risk you take when you sign up to play. But for many, injuries involving the knee joint occur due to poor technique or lack of strength and conditioning. It should be your goal to take charge and do what you can to protect your knees because most of you have a long and exciting soccer career ahead of you. There are many injury prevention programs that can teach you the proper techniques to help avoid an ACL injury. Sportsmetrics™ is the first training program scientifically proven to help athletes get stronger, jump higher, and reduce the risk of serious knee injuries. The program was designed by Dr. Frank Noyes, one of the most influential orthopaedic physicians in the world, and his research team at Cincinnati SportsMedicine Research and Education Foundation. It is a six-week jump training program that meets three times per week on alternating days. Each session is approximately one and a half hours and includes the following components:
- Dynamic Warm-up: Prepares the body with functional based activities that use sport specific motions. It raises core body temperature, increases blood flow to the muscles and improves flexibility, balance and coordination.
- Plyometrics/Jump Training: Plyometrics, the core of the Sportsmetrics™ program, are used to focus on correct jumping technique and are divided into three two week phases. Each phase has a different training focus and the exercises change accordingly. Plyometrics develop muscle control and strength that are critical for reducing the risk of knee injury and increasing jump height.
- Speed and Agility Training: Emphasizes body alignment and form while performing sprinting and cutting movements. The goal of speed and agility training is to condition your body and increase skill level while teaching proper technique as well.
- High Intensity Strength Training: With emphasis on body alignment and form, Sportsmetrics™ provides structured (yet adaptable) strength training guidance. This section focuses on development of core strength and improving overall muscular efficiency. This can be done with or without equipment or free weights.
- Flexibility Training: Stretching is essential to achieve maximum muscle length, allowing muscles to work with power through complete range of motion. This is important for decreasing injury and post-training muscle soreness.
For athletes that do not have the option of training 3 days a week for six weeks, we offer Sportsmetrics™ WIPP (Warm-up for Injury Prevention and Performance.) WIPP is a specially designed warm-up that incorporates all of the above components of Sportsmetrics™. WIPP takes approximately 20 minutes and can be performed as a warm-up prior to practice and games.
Many athletes, local and national, have used Sportsmetrics™ as a preseason conditioning program or as one step to avoiding injury. Gloria Burkhart, a freshman soccer player at Southeastern Louisiana University, signed up for Sportsmetrics™ with hopes of conditioning herself and sharpening her agility skills before charging onto the collegiate field. With a history of knee and ankle instability, Gloria was determined to use the program to make her a stronger player and avoid injury. Now that she is playing at the collegiate level on a team with a winning record, competition is stronger, expectations are higher. Gloria feels that Sportsmetrics™ has helped her improve her agility skills and has given her knees the stability they need on the uneven surface of the playing field. “[Other conditioning programs] only worked with sprints and didn’t focus on technique. Technique is a huge issue.” She’s right. When you are involved in a sport plagued with injuries, technique is everything.
The Cincinnati SportsMedicine Research and Education Foundation has received international recognition for our published studies that document our ability to reduce serious knee injuries in female athletes who train with Sportsmetrics™. Our research has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer, and on ESPN and ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It is your responsibility to take care of your athletes.
Take charge with Sportsmetrics™ and get stronger, jump higher, run faster…keep them injury free.