Did you know that your knees are the largest joints in your body? What’s more, they’re also one of the most active. This means every time you walk, stand, jump, pivot, or kick, your knees work hard to get you where you need to be. Unfortunately, this also makes your knees more vulnerable to injury. And with a knee injury, you can be sidelined for weeks — even months.
At OasisMD, our team of sports medicine and orthopedic specialists understand better than most the complexities of the knee and how frustrating a sidelining injury can be. We work with patients in San Diego, Encinitas, and Temecula, California, to prevent injuries of all kinds, including a knee injury to your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.
If you’d rather spend your time playing on the field than watching from the sidelines, here are the best ways you can avoid ACL knee injuries.
What is the ACL?
Your knee has four main ligaments that run across it diagonally. Your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is one of them. The ACL stops your small leg bone, or tibia, from moving over the larger bone in your leg, the femur. It’s what connects your bones and helps keep your knee stable.
When the ligament tears, you wind up with what’s called an ACL injury or tear. Most ACL injuries also involve other ligaments and the surrounding cartilage. Most patients report hearing a loud popping sound and feel their knee give out beneath them when the ACL tears.
What are the best ways to avoid ACL injuries in the knee?
No part of the body is completely injury-proof, but you can take steps to prevent ACL injuries. We’ve curated the top five ways to best avoid hurting your ACL, so you can stay active and in the game.
1. Strengthen your hips and legs
The muscles in your hips and legs provide essential support to your knees. Keeping them healthy and strong is one of the best ways to prevent an ACL injury. You don’t need fancy equipment or lots of time to improve your leg and hip strength. Adding squats and lunges to your warm-up routine is a great way to add strength-building exercises without adding hours at the gym.
2. Improve your balance
Many injuries happen when you’re off-balance and your body has to compensate. Improving your balance off the court or field means added stability when you’re playing. Balance exercises work your core, back, and leg muscles to increase coordination, stability, and strength. These gains in balance will help you avoid movements that strain your ACL.
3. Be sure to warm up and stretch
One of the best ways to prevent injuries of all kinds is to warm up before physical activity and stretch daily. Warming up for a few minutes before you exercise or play ensures blood circulates to your muscles and joints, and stretching helps keep you flexible, so you can move easily and keep good form.
4. Pay attention to early warning signs
Our bodies frequently send us early warning signs when something isn’t right. By paying attention to early symptoms of ACL irritation, you can avoid a full-blown injury. If your knee is sore or you start to have trouble moving your knee normally, stop playing and rest. Your specialist at OasisMD can evaluate these early warning signs and work with you to create a treatment plan, if necessary.
5. Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
Some of the most overlooked factors in injury prevention are diet, nutrition, and hydration. A healthy diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables; lean proteins, like beans and legumes; and healthy nuts and seeds deliver the nutrients your body needs to stay strong and injury-free. Water is equally important, especially before and during physical activity. Proper hydration ensures your soft tissues stay soft and that you maintain energy and focus on the field.
Ready to learn more?
Even if you practice the best preventive measures, ACL injuries can and do occur. At OasisMD, we can help. Our team of experts works to safely and effectively treat your injury to get you back to playing, faster.
To learn more about preventing ACL injuries or to schedule an evaluation, contact the OasisMD office closest to you, or book an appointment online now!