Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strengthen Hamstrings to Lessen Knee ACL Injury Risk

Knee anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most devastating for athletes.

There are some training techniques you can use to lessen the risk of this injury. The knee ACL is located within the capsule of the knee and connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). Pictured below is a torn knee ACL:

Females injure their ACLs at six times the rate of males. Females demonstrate a lower hamstring to quadricep ratio. This means they typically have weaker hamstrings compared to males. They also demonstrate different muscle activation patterns compared to males.

Females are typically quadricep dominant athletes which means they use their strong quadriceps muscles and do not use their weak hamstrings enough.
Strength training for females should be adjusted to adequately strengthen the hamstrings.

The hamstring muscle group acts to protect the ACL and the opposing quadricep muscle group places stress on the ACL.

The best prevention for hamstring injuries and hamstring-related injuries are adequate flexibility and strength.

Two common exercises, the lunge and step up (pictured above), can be adjusted to work your hamstrings more during these exercises.....its simple to do:

For the step up exercise - the higher the platform (needs to be at least knee high), the more your hamstrings will be worked.

For the lunge
- step out farther on your lunge step and your hamstrings will be worked more than your quadriceps.

Some other flexibility and strength exercises for your hamstrings:

Hamstring Flexibility - resistance band eccentric stretch and static stretch (static stretch should be done after workout or game).

Hamstring Strength - lying or standing hamstring machine curl, deadlift, good morning exercise (with or without weights) and glute/ham raises.

Be sure and download your Free Dumbbell and Medicine Ball Metabolic Fat Burner Workouts and start shaping your body faster!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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