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Which Exercises Help Reduce ACL Injury Risk?

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Training that strengthens the legs and hips and stabilises the abdomen is most effective for preventing knee ligament injuries in young women, US researchers say. It´s also important to do more than one type of exercise.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that preventive neuromuscular training can help reduce ACL injuries in young women. The researchers wanted to establish the effectiveness of individual exercises in reducing ACL injury risk.

They examined 14 previous studies and evaluated types of exercise that support ACL injury reduction in this patient group. Four different exercise approaches were assessed, including balance, jump training, abdomen stabilising exercises and strengthening of the legs and hips.

The results, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that training programmes focused on building strength in the back of the legs and in the hips significantly reduced the number of ACL injuries when compared with other programmes. The same was true for programmes focused on strengthening and developing more control of the abdomen.

It was also clear that training which included more than one type of exercise was much more effective than sticking to only one type.

The researchers noted that while balance and jumping exercises were somewhat helpful in reducing injury risk, they were not effective unless combined with other exercises, Reuters Health reported.

Specific exercises that were found to reduce ACL injury risk included Russian hamstring curls, sit-ups, pushups and bench press.

One of the researchers, Dai Sugimoto, highlighted the particular effectiveness of hamstring curls because they help to strengthen the legs and hips and also require abdomen control.