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ACL Injury Prevention Programs

BOSU Ball used to train balance and help reduce ACL tears

BOSU Ball squats and balancing can help reduce ACL injuries by training joints and muscles to react appropriately.

A tear to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the knee can be one of the most detrimental injuries to an athlete. In order to decrease the chance of such an injury occurring, preventative programs should be performed by athletic populations. These programs can be done at home or during the beginning of a practice. ACL prevention programs can also be incorporated into a warm up, prior to exercise. The programs focus on plyometrics, balance, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

Plyometrics are described as rapid and powerful movements. These movements first cause a muscle to lengthen, then shorten. The combination of lengthening and shortening the muscle at a fast pace increases the power of a muscle. Plyometrics aid in the prevention of ACL injuries by training the muscles to react at a faster rate preventing the knee from shifting. Examples of plyometrics are single leg cone jumps, squat jumps, single leg bounding, and ladder drills. The goal when performing these drills is to jump immediately again after making contact with the ground. The exercises are generally performed for about 30 seconds, however when first starting the drills, a shorter time may be required to begin and then gradually increased with practice.

Balance and stretching are also key factors to preventing ACL injuries. It is important to thoroughly stretch the calf, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles. Stretching these muscles will ensure that the muscles are not too tight which could cause a muscular imbalance and increase your chance of injury. Balance or proprioception is also a goal in ACL prevention as it can allow muscles to work together to stabilize the body on various surfaces. If the body and knee cannot quickly react to surface changes, an ACL injury could occur. Balancing exercises can be performed on one leg, on uneven surfaces such as a BOSU Ball, and can incorporate throwing a ball while balancing to increase muscular stability and neurologic reaction time.

Strengthening is the final aspect of an ACL prevention program. It is essential to strengthen not only the hip and thigh musculature, but also the core. Strengthening the musculature of the legs allows for a more stable knee joint which decreases the risk of ACL injury. Core and leg strengthening can be done using the body’s weight through exercises such as walking lunges, squats, sit ups, and planks. Exercises such as walking lunges are also an adequate exercise to warm up and loosen the muscles before activity.

While performing ACL prevention programs, it is imperative to focus on technique more than the number of repetitions completed in the allotted time. When jumping during plyometrics, the proper landing technique is to bend at the knees and hips to absorb the force rather than keeping the knees and hips straight causing the force to compress the joints. The phrase ‘light as a feather’ is used to describe how to land, meaning land as softly and quietly as possible to absorb the shock. The toes are to remain pointing forward at all times, and the knees are to stay in line with the toes. This ensures that the muscles are functioning together providing the best stability for the ACL. Poor technique can lead to a muscle imbalance, decreasing the stability of the knee.

ACL prevention programs can be done in 15 minutes and research has found them to be beneficial to help prevent injury. These programs are recommended to be performed at least 2-3 times per week with at least 1-day rest between each session. A minimum of 6 weeks is needed to provide the best results. Although it appears to be a hassle, these programs only take a few minutes to perform and can be done using simply the body’s weight, while providing a decreased risk of a serious ACL knee injury.

Tips to Avoid Joint and Hip Injuries

The body’s joints take quite a beating over the course of a person’s life, causing wear-and-tear damage that can lead to osteoarthritis and other chronic joint conditions. Weight-bearing joints, like hips and knees, are among the most vulnerable to this type of damage. While a certain amount of gradual wear on your joints is unavoidable, excessive wear can be prevented by taking good care of your body. Avoiding joint and hip injuries is an important step toward that goal and can help prevent disabling joint problems later in life, reducing your risk of needing surgery, such as a hip replacement.

 

Hip Joint

Painful Hip Joints Can Often Be Avoided

Exercise

Staying active is essential to maintaining joint health and flexibility. Exercise also helps maintain bone strength, which is very important in avoiding hip injury and deterioration that can lead to the necessity of hip replacement. The stress placed on the bones by exercise stimulates bone cell growth, slowing the pace of natural bone loss that occurs with aging.

Low-impact exercise is best, like walking, bicycling, swimming or aerobics, since exercise that pounds and jars the joints increases the risk of both immediate injury and the gradual damage that leads to overuse injuries and chronic joint problems. Resistance exercise, such as light weight-lifting, helps in the maintenance of joints and bones as well, and should be done at least twice weekly.

Be sure to warm up and stretch before exercise to reduce the chance of joint injuries, and avoid exercising on hard surfaces, such as asphalt, or rough, uneven terrain. Consulting a fitness instructor is the best way to devise an exercise plan that promotes optimal hip and joint health.

Weight Management

Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for joint and hip injury. Extra weight places undue stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis and overuse injuries such as tendinitis and bursitis. Even losing a little weight can help, since each pound you lose takes about four pounds of pressure off of weight-bearing joints.

Nutrition

Eating well helps ensure that the body has a plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients to repair and maintain the joints. Among the nutrients essential to joint health are vitamins A and C, which aid in collagen production, and omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. Getting plenty of minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, is essential to maintaining bone strength, and balanced nutrition keeps muscles healthy and strong, providing vital support and protection to the joints.

Why Joint Health Matters

Joint injury and deterioration is a leading cause of disability in adults, particularly those older than age 65. While modern surgical procedures and prosthetic devices have provided relief to many, they are not without risk.

Defective hip replacement implants have caused high rates of complications in recent years. Among the most serious of these is metallosis, a condition that occurs when the components of metal-on-metal hip implants shed debris into surrounding tissues, causing severe pain and inflammation. Implant debris can also lead to osteolysis, which is bone loss around the implant that can cause it to loosen or fail. Revision surgeries have been necessary in many cases to repair the damage, and these issues have led to the recall of several products and thousands of hip replacement lawsuits.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com and is a guest article contributor to the Hat Trick Sports resource and sports performance pages.

Lose Weight, Stay Fit, Without a Fad Diet

What is a Fad Diet?

The National Institutes of Health describe fad diets as severely restricted calorie intake for rapid weight loss. These types of diets do not mean you will keep the weight off. Crash diets require you to eat fewer calories than you need to live. This behavior trains your metabolism to slow down to conserve energy. Once you have completed your crash diet you are left with a body that burns calories much slower than before you started, resulting in weight gain.

Why do people give into the fad diet gimmick?

Eating healthy can help you lose weight

Eating healthy portions and exercise can help you lose weight.  Stay away from Fad Diets.

Two words: Instant Gratification. It’s as simple as that. We are humans that constantly want and need to see results immediately, no matter what the consequences reap. If something is really worth it you should want to work hard for it. Hopefully you are not sitting there thinking, “Yeah, I am so happy my friend, parent, or significant other got me the job I have.”  I hope you are thinking “I worked hard to be where I am today, to have what I do.”  So, why wouldn’t you do the same for your own body?

The companies that advertise their quick weight loss fad diet gimmicks just want your money and do a great job at getting it. Companies also like to use celebrities to market their product. How realistic is that? Celebrities are a limited number of the general population and are not perfect models of how we should look. These companies play on our insecurities and self image to make a buck. Let’s stop their income and start a lifetime of happiness and health the safer way!

What happens once the fad diet is over?

Once rapid weight loss occurs and the diet is over, typically people return to their old habits of not eating properly and exercising. The weight that is lost is usually water weight and precious muscle. Weight that is lost is gained back rapidly, usually as fat, because the person did not learn how to eat properly.

How Do I Spot a Fad Diet?

While there is no set approach to identifying a fad diet, many have the following characteristics:

  1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix.
  2. Dire warnings of dangers from a single food group, product, or regimen.
  3. Claims that sound too good to be true.
  4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study.
  5. Recommendations based on a single study or testimonials.
  6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
  7. Lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.
  8. Recommendations made to help sell a product.
  9. Recommendations based on studies published without review by other researchers.
  10. Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups.
  11. Eliminating 1 or more of the 5 food groups.

So what is the key to losing weight and maintaining weight loss?

First and foremost, awareness of caloric intake! I am not saying count every single calorie that you ingest; however, you should be more aware of what you are eating and how much. You can start by keeping a food log. You can find many fitness and diet logs to help you out online.

That brings us to the second key: Portion Control! Portions have increased drastically over the past 40 years.  A study from the American Journal of Public Health states ‘researchers found that cookies are 700% bigger than USDA standards’.

Last but not least, you need to have a regular exercise routine. Everyone has to start somewhere, but to maintain a healthy weight you need a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and proper nutrition. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day, and working toward 60 minutes per day. There are many great fitness tools and apps available to you on the web for tracking your weight loss and exercise progress. WebMD has a wonderful fitness tracker tool available for the general population. If you are able to, seek the services of a health professional like a Registered Dietician, Health Fitness Specialist (HFS), or Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) to help personally guide you.  They can be a wealth of knowledge! Check out the ACSM’s (American College of Sports Medicine) website for more information regarding exercise for the general population at ACSM.org.

Quick Facts:

  • People who eat several small meals a day are able to lose weight and maintain weight better than someone who does not, especially if the snacks are protein packed.  Eating more often keeps your metabolism in high gear. HEALTHY SNACKING IS OKAY!
  • Low fat does not necessarily mean low calorie! Just because it says low fat on the label does not mean it is the best option for you! Be aware of how many calories are in each serving and try not to over indulge because it says low fat! They all add up!
  • People who drink more water burn more calories! When you are dehydrated your metabolism lags! Add a cup of water to each meal you eat to get your daily intake. It will also create a sense of fullness and cause you to eat smaller portions at the meal as well.
  • Slow and steady weight loss (1-2 pounds per week) is the safest way to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Rapid increases and decreases in weight make it harder for your body to stabilize a proper weight for you. One pound equals 3,500 calories! WOAH! To lose one pound per week you need to burn 500 calories more per day than you eat (7days X 500 calories = 3,500 calories or 1 pound lost). The recommended approach for this strategy is to cut 250 calories from your food intake and burn 250 extra calories by working out each day.  Now that doesn’t sound so hard does it?
  • It is not too late to start a diet and exercise program! Starting is always the hardest part, but there are many tools and people to support you through your journey!  Take control of your life and be as healthy as you can be!
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