Youth: The Dreaded ACL Tear - How to Reduce the Risk in Soccer
Mar 25, 2021
Tearing an ACL is one of the biggest nightmares of any athlete, let alone soccer players. Not only are ACL injuries incredibly painful, but they will put a player out of the game for an incredibly long time - missing months or even seasons of play. Aggressive surgery and physiotherapy are needed to not only heal the injury but to also prevent any lingering side effects.
As you can imagine, it’s better to simply avoid an ACL Tear altogether, rather than hope for the best with treatment. As with any injury, there is no surefire way to totally avoid ACL injuries. However, there are many steps that any player can take to lower the risk level. This post will explain what an ACL Tear is, and then give a quick list of ways to mitigate the risks of getting such an injury.
What is an ACL Tear?
Many readers will have heard of an ACL tear, they may not be aware of what ACL stands for. Your ACL is your “Anterior Cruciate Ligament”. This ligament connects your thigh bone and your shinbone. An ACL tear will happen when something ruptures or otherwise injuries this ligament.
An ACL tear is often heralded by a popping noise or a popping “sensation” in the knee. Soon, this will be followed by extreme pain and swelling in the knee area. Athletes with ACL injuries will find their range of motion and balance severely impacted, and they will be unable to take part in any activity involving the injured leg.
How Does it Happen?
ACL Tears are most common in sports that involve a lot of sudden stopping or changing direction, such as soccer. Sudden pivots, awkward landings, or direct impacts to the knee from collisions can all cause an ACL tear.
Ways to Reduce The Risk of an ACL Tear
While there is no way to eliminate the risk of an ACL tear in soccer, the risk can be reduced through the usage of certain techniques and soccer protective gear. Tools for reducing the risk of ACL can include...
Strength Training and Conditioning Routines
Before you start getting into serious soccer, your body must be ready for the strain that you are going to put on it. Coaches should make sure that their players are taking part in regular strength training and conditioning. This will ensure that their body is up to the strain that soccer will put on them. All this should be matched with good nutrition and plenty of rest.
Dynamic Stretching and Neuromuscular Warm-Ups
Muscles don’t just need to be strong to protect against ACL tears, but also limber and flexible. Dynamic stretching and neuromuscular warm-ups before practice and games are all great ways to keep your ligaments ready. A great place to start with these is the FIFA 11+ injury prevention program.
Balance and Biomechanical Training
Balance and Biomechanical training is becoming a big thing not just in sports, but in workplace safety around the world. Soccer often involves putting a lot of pressure on a single leg, whether through kicking or sudden stops. Coaches and players should invest time into looking up balance training so that the team can more safely handle these moments in play.
Ligaments strain before they snap. Coaches should be aware that younger players may not have the ability to take as much strain as experienced players. It is always advisable to do your research on the recommended number of practice hours a week for the age group of your team.
Wear Appropriate Protective Gear
One of the best ways to reduce risks for ACL Tears from collisions is to get soccer protective gear for the leg and knee area. By wearing soccer leg guards, impacts to the knee can be mitigated. While soccer leg guards don’t provide total immunity, they can reduce the risk of an ACL tear caused by a knee collision.
Understanding the risks and how to prevent injuries will go a long way to reducing leg and knee injuries in youth soccer. Check out our latest line of protective and high-performance gear, including soccer leg guards, to keep you playing your best on the field.