Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are so common that TV announcers can identify a probable injury when they see it on the court or field. When a knee goes too far in a direction that looks “bad,” they often speculate the athlete has suffered an ACL tear or injury. Sadly, most of the time, the announcers are correct.

As a movement professional, you want to help athletes avoid ACL tears and rebuild after an injury. To do this, you must understand the functional biomechanics of the ACL, knee, and lower extremity. Without this knowledge, you can’t effectively design programs that limit the possibility of injury to the ACL. In this blog, the experts at Gray Institute® explore ACL injuries and how you can limit them.

Weight-Bearing Function and ACL Injuries

The ACL’s function, while non-weight-bearing versus weight-bearing, is a significant area of confusion. When an athlete is lying on a table, their ACL’s function is significantly and clinically different than when they’re on the playing field. When you build training programs that only consider the ACL’s function in an artificial environment, like on a table, they will be less effective and fundamentally flawed. We now believe this approach might even proprioceptively confuse the motor control system, ultimately leading to more ACL injuries!

Don’t Keep the Knee in Neutral

Traditionally, movement professionals would try to keep athletes’ knees neutral during their training programs. While their heart was in the right spot, this tactic is actually detrimental to the ACL. Looking at the proximal knee (the hip) and the distal knee (the foot), you inhibit the exact motions that we need to facilitate to assist the ACL when we keep the knee neutralized!

Don’t Create Isolated Knee Strength

Finally, exercises that try to create isolated strength for the knee are equally disastrous. In the past, movement professionals thought if we could isolate the knee away from the hip and the foot, and do it isokinetically or isotonically, we could get it relatively stronger and limit abnormal stress to the ACL. We once again were misled and wrong!

In our vlog, ACL: Understanding Non-Functional vs. Functional Strategies, Dr. Gary Gray discusses why these three non-functional understandings took some of us down the wrong path. More importantly, Gary discusses the new approach that utilizes evidence-based biomechanics and strategies.

RELATED: 3 Reasons 3DMAPS®  Should Be Your Go-To Movement Screen

Improve Your ACL Care With 3DMAPS®

Our body is deeply interconnected, and dysfunction in one area can profoundly impact connected parts. The knee and hip are integral in the prevention, performance, and rehabilitation of the ACL. At Gray Institute, we embrace the truths of human movement and apply them in the real world.

Looking to better assess, understand, and progress the knee, the hip, the foot, the entire body? 3DMAPS (3D Movement Analysis & Performance System) may be your missing piece to this puzzle. In 3DMAPS, we will teach you how to holistically assess the body’s function, considering movement on all three planes. Then, we’ll provide you with practical tools that can help you address ACL, knee, hip, and other issues—providing meaningful and lasting improvement.

To learn more, contact us today!