ACL Injury Prevention for the Soccer Player

by Kathleen O’Neill, DPT >> Request an Appointment

With the Women’s World Cup recently over and fall soccer season quickly approaching, it’s time to talk about injury prevention for our soccer players. Within competitive sports that involve cutting/turning, the ACL is the most commonly ruptured ligament of the knee joint. The risk of sustaining an ACL injury is significantly higher for female athletes due to differences in mechanics when landing, cutting, and turning. Weakness starting in the hip can be one of the major factors leading to these faulty movement patterns. Below are a few exercises that can help with glute strength and stability and decrease the risk of soccer injuries, particularly to the ACL.

Banded Hops: Lateral, Forward, and Single Leg (3 rounds x 12-15 hops per drill/direction)

Adding a band cues gluteus medius activation with landing. The goal is to improve shock absorption and control deceleration by landing softly and preventing knees from collapsing inward.

Standing Clam Shell (2-3 sets x 15 reps each side)

This is another great exercise to train the glute medius to control knee valgus (turning inward), similar to its role in controlling the hip/knee when cutting in soccer. Keep your core tightened, upper body stable and your hips level throughout this exercise.

Standing Hip Extention (2-3 sets x 15 reps each side)

This exercise challenges glute strength on the side that’s kicking back against the band, while also challenging single-leg stability on the stationary leg. Keep your hips level and engage your core to avoid extending through the low back.

Single Leg RDL (3 sets x 10 reps each side)

The single-leg RDL is a great way to eccentrically challenge the hamstrings, train foot/ankle stability, and challenge the glute max. Be sure to keep your back straight and hips level. Progress this exercise further by adding weight to the opposite arm.

Strengthening is an important way to prevent sports injuries, and that includes strengthening your core for soccer as well. Be sure to check out our post about plyometric catch progression if you really want to vary up your routine and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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