This Simple Test Will Tell You Whether You're at Risk for an ACL Tear

Employ this test to see if you have an increased risk of suffering an ACL injury.

Find out if you're at risk for an ACL tear with the Drop Jump Landing Test. Often, as athletes, we are only concerned with how high we jump or how fast we land. We often neglect how we land or how we slow down. If we land poorly, the risk for an ACL tear will increase.

The Drop Jump Landing Test, shown in the video above, assesses your risk for an ACL tear by watching how you land. The test aims to discover movement asymmetries that could potentially lead to an injury like a non-contact ACL tear.

During the test, you want to check for knee valgus—i.e., when your knee caves in. Knee valgus combines the motions of femoral internal rotation and adduction, which on a planted leg place stress on the ACL and increase the risk of an injury. The does not put a healthy athlete at any more risk than participation in his or her sport.

Drop Jump Landing Test

Step of a chair or box that's about 24 inches high. Land softly on the ground. Have someone film the landing—ideally in slow motion—so you can review your landing form.

Here's what it should look like:

Drop Jump Landing Test Proper Landing

Here's a failed test:

Drop Jump Landing Test Improper Landing

How to fix:

There are two primary problems. One could be technique. When you land, sit your hips back and bend your knees to absorb the forces. Most important, make sure your knees are over your ankles. It might be helpful to think about driving them outward if you have a tendency to collapse inward.

Second, you may need to strengthen your hips. In particular, you need strong glutes and abductors to help stabilize your hip joint and maintain knee alignment. Besides performing compound lower-body exercises like Squats, Deadlifts and Lunges, try this simple hip routine that helps strengthen muscles that are often ignored.

Sources:

1. Voskanian N. "ACL Injury prevention in female athletes: review of the literature and practical considerations in implementing an ACL prevention program." Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2013;6(2):158-163. doi:10.1007/s12178-013-9158-y.

2. Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR, et al. "Biomechanical measures of neuromuscular control and valgus loading of the knee predict anterior cruciate ligament injury risk in female athletes: a prospective study." Am J Sports Med. 2005;33:492-501

Photo Credit: mheim3011/iStock/Thinkstock


Topics: SQUAT | LUNGE | DEADLIFT | ACL INJURY | KNEE | HIP MUSCLES