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How Do Neuromuscular Training Programs Prevent ACL Tears?

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Updated December 16, 2012

Question: How Do Neuromuscular Training Programs Prevent ACL Tears?
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of four major ligaments of the knee. Injuries to the ACL are a common sports injury and can be season ending injuries. New research is investigating ways to prevent ACL injuries in an effort to avoid lost time from sports and competition.
Answer: Stability of the knee is dependent on different factors. The two most important are the static and the dynamic stabilizers of the knee.
  • Static Stabilizers
    The static stabilizers are the four major ligaments of the knee: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

  • Dynamic Stabilizers
    The dynamic stabilizers of the knee are the muscles and tendons that surround the joint. These muscles and tendons are controlled by what's known as neuromuscular input, the unconscious activation of these structures to control the position of the joint.
Neuromuscular training is used to teach your body better habits for knee stability. By training how your knee moves, especially when jumping, landing, and pivoting, you can maintain a more stable position of the knee joint. Several studies have shown that neuromuscular training programs can reduce the chance of an ACL injury.

One of the better known neuromuscular training programs, the Prevent Injury, and Enhance Performance program (commonly known as the PEP program), was developed at the Santa Monica Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Research Foundation.

Sources:

Griffin LY, et al. "Noncontact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies" J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., May/June 2000; 8: 141 - 150.

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  7. ACL Injury
  8. Neuromuscular Training For Prevention of ACL Tears

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