Since female athletes are 3.5 times more susceptible to ACL injuries, they need to perform plyometrics to reduce their risk of injury. A plyometric program provides greater power output, but what's key in injury prevention is proper landing technique. Due to the landing forces and torque angles you experience when you plant your foot or land from a jump, your ACL is endures more stress if neuromuscular recruitment and timing are not appropriately trained.
The good news is that plyometric exercises are designed to improve those important attributes. Performing the three exercises below will ultimately make you more resistant to ACL injuries—and make you a better athlete overall.
Because of its versatility and use in multiple planes, this plyometric beauty can turn a dull program into an exciting challenge, one even Supergirl would enjoy. It can be a basic static Tuck Jump or as advanced as you want to make it, with 90-degree rotations over 3-foot barriers.
This exercise can be done jumping from your right foot to your left in a diagonal pattern. It can also be done with the same leg jumping in a diagonal pattern over a line for maximal distance, with good control. Progress slowly with this exercise, because it requires the most neurological control and takes time to learn proper form.
Standing with one foot in front of the other at hip-width, bend both knees to lower into a lunge position. Swing your arms up in the air as you jump. In mid air, switch legs and land softly in the split stance, bending your knees to decelerate. Maintain an upright, tall torso, and don't let your back knee hit the ground.
This exercise helps with knee control at the hip and teaches proper foot placement when landing.
Key components for safety
- Knees track where the toes are pointed.
- Bend at the hips, knees, and ankles when landing.
- Land softly.
- Use your arms to help with balance, takeoff, and form.
- Always perform plyometrics on a forgiving surface—e.g., a basketball court, exercise mat, or rubber floor.
- Make the exercises easy at first so form and technique will not be sacrificed. There's no reason to impress.
These three plyometric exercises can prevent knee injuries. They replicate athletic movements when injuries occur in fast-paced, less-controlled environments and full-speed play. Thus, training for faster neural motor recruitment in a slower, more controlled environment can protect your ACL.
Finally, the goal of each progressive training session should be to improve technique and increase duration, volume or intensity of the exercises. This will improve neuromuscular recruitment for proper landing technique.
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