The Top 5 Stretches for Preventing ACL Injury


Prevention is the key in dealing with ACL injuries in women athletes. By strengthening certain lower trunk and core muscle groups, physically active women can prevent debilitating ACL injuries from overuse, weakness, and improper form.

Physicians who focus on sports medicine strive to develop conditioning programs to reduce the incidence of knee ligament injuries. Below I have compiled five of the most effective and important exercises for female athletes training to avoid the all-to0-common ACL injury. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen the lower extremity, improve balance, and promote stability.

Incorporating the following exercises into your workout routine will help you condition your body to prevent ACL injury.

1. Wall Sit

The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the quadriceps (thigh muscles) and the gluteus medius muscle (outer hip) to prevent your knees from falling inwards with jumping and landing.  This will also aide in preventing injury when receiving a blow to the outside of your leg.

Wall Sit, ACL Injury Prevention

Wall Sit

Lean up against a wall with a resistance band around your legs and slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.  Next, rise up onto your toes.  Hold for 15-60 seconds according to your fitness level.  Repeat 3-5 times.

Make sure to:

  • Hold your buttock muscles tight to keep your knees from rolling inward toward each other.
  • Keep your back and buttock pressed into the wall.

Do not:

  • Allow your knees to roll inward towards each other
  • Allow your knees to go over your toes
  • Allow your back or buttock to come off the wall

Advanced Modification:

Wall Sit, ACL Injury Prevention

Wall Sit, Advanced Modification

  • Repeat exercise but stand on only one leg at a time

2. Prone Abdominal Plank

This exercise strengthens the “core” muscles and gives the legs a more rigid, sturdy frame from which to work from, to prevent injury.

Prone Abdominal Plank, ACL Injury Prevention

Prone Abdominal Plank

Hold for 15-60 seconds, according to your fitness level, with good form.  Repeat 3-5 times per set.  If necessary, perform on your knees instead of up on your toes.

Make sure to:

  • Squeeze your buttock muscles together as tight as you can
  • Suck your belly button into your spine like you’re squeezing into “skinny jeans”
  • Keep your lower back flat

Do not:

  • Arch your back
  • Stick your butt up
  • Hold your breath

Advanced Modification:

Prone Abdominal Plank, ACL Injury Prevention

Prone Abdominal Plank, Advanced Modification

  • Raise one leg up towards the ceiling and hold it.  Repeat with the opposite leg up.
  • Keep the raised leg in a straight line

3. Side-Lying Plank

These planks target the outer hip muscles and abdominal obliques to improve form with jumping and landing.  Hip muscles are the muscles that help to keep your knees from moving in towards each other.

Side Plank, ACL Injury Prevention

Side Plank

Hold for 15-60 seconds according to your fitness level, with good form.  Repeat 3-5 times per set.  If necessary, bend your knees 90 degrees to keep good form.

Make sure to:

  • Put your top leg in front of the bottom leg
  • Lift your bottom hip as high as you can
  • Keep your body in as straight a line as is possible

Do not:

  • Let your hips sag towards the floor
  • Allow your top shoulder to round forward

Advanced modifications:

Side Plank, ACL Injury Prevention

Side Plank, Advanced Modifications

  • Raise your top arm toward the ceiling
  • Raise your top leg toward the ceiling

4. Single Leg Stance Terminal Knee Extension

Strengthen the quadracep (thigh) muscle just above the knee to prevent the knee from buckling with this knee extension.  This helps to build ankle and hip stability and to assist your balance.

Single Leg Stance Terminal Knee Extension, ACL Injury Prevention

Single Leg Stance Terminal Knee Extension, Start

Single Leg Stance Terminal Knee Extension, ACL Injury Prevention

Single Leg Stance Terminal Knee Extension, End

Balance on one leg with a resistance band anchored into a door and wrapped around your leg just above the knee joint.  Slightly bend the stance leg without letting your heel pop up then slowly return to start position.  Repeat 10-15 times.  Complete 2-3 sets per session.  Repeat with opposite leg.

Make sure to:

  • Keep your knee in line with the 2nd and 3rd toe as your squat

Do Not:

  • Allow your knee to move inside of the 1st toe as you squat

5. Glut Activation with Resistance Band

Glut activations increase gluteus medius strength and activation to keep the knees from falling inward with jumping and landing.  They also assist in preventing injuries when receiving a blow to the outside of your leg.

Glut Activation with Resistance Band, ACL Injury Prevention

Glut Activation with Resistance Band, Start

Glut Activation with Resistance Band, ACL Injury Prevention

Glut Activation with Resistance Band, End

Stand in a squat position with a resistance band tied above your knees.  Try to balance your weight in your heels as you push your right leg in and out – moving your knee alignment from the 2nd toe to 5th toe and back to starting position.  Repeat 15-20 times per set.  Repeat with left leg.

Make sure to:

  • Keep weight back in your heels – you should be able to lift your toes up once in position
  • Starting position is with your knee in line with your second toe – not inside of the foot
  • Keep your chest up, tummy tight and buttock muscles clenched tightly

Do not:

  • Allow your knees to go over your toes
  • Allow your chest to come forward – this will shift the weight to your toes

+ Learn more about the sports performance and physical therapy services offered with the Bon Secours Orthopaedic Institute.
+ Find a FREE seminar on hip and knee pain near you!
+ Read more articles on Orthopaedic Health.ACLInjuryPic

One thought on “The Top 5 Stretches for Preventing ACL Injury

  1. Shakeeria White

    This is really helpful for me because I am doing a research paper on the ACL tear and doing the proper exercise is apart of my essay and plus I am a Majorette and now I won’t have to worry about my ACL tearing because I have these exercises to help me.. Thanks again this was really helpful! Credit goes to this site..

Speak Your Mind