Question: My daughter has torn her ACL and will soon complete her rehab. Are there exercises that are beneficial and may make her knee stronger so she does not have a repeat injury?
Answer: The Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise in the May 2014 issue recognized that neuromuscular exercises were effective in reducing ACL injuries. The article compiled and compared informational studies done since 2006 and concluded that balance training alone was not effective in ACL injury prevention.
What it did find effective was neuromuscular training (NMT). The findings were conclusive enough for the board to recommend training for both males and females. It determined that the training produced better results if the subjects were eighteen or younger in both genders. ACL injury prevention training reduced injuries in females by 52% and in males by 85%. The programs were most effective if they were implemented both preseason and in-season. The results were greatly diminished if the training was implemented in only one or the other time periods. The workouts were required to be three times a week for at least 10-20 minutes.
NMT exercises combine strength and balance along with an explosive component like the single leg squat or lateral glute and hamstring movements preferably using resistance bands. These are done first with rep parameters but expand into time periods and greater resistance done repetitively in consecutive sets. There are multiple levels for the athlete to work towards.
We have used this training to develop greater speed for athletes and have seen the nice side-effect of stronger more stable knees for the athletes involved. It is intense but is a series of posterior movement change exercises that can be used during the off-season, preseason and in-season to make athletes faster and more explosive on the field.
It certainly is a possibility for your athlete to make strides for stronger knees and more speed as soon as she is released from PT especially since the high school season for girls soccer is in the spring.
God bless and keep training,