3 ACL Injury Prevention Exercises for Women

Prevent ACL injuries in female athletes with three drills that improve lower-body strength, balance and stability.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge
It's a fact that girls have a higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries than guys. Some studies show that women face up to a 10 times higher risk of ACL injury than men.

Among many contributing factors to the increased risk are women's hip and knee angle, hormone profile, and hamstring weakness. Although it's impossible to change genetic traits, hamstring strength issues can be addressed.

The problem with weak hamstrings is the muscle imbalance that likely exists in relation to the quads. If the quads are too strong compared to the hamstrings, the force placed on the ACL can cause damage. Add the fact that the hamstrings can't prevent the tibia (lower leg) from sliding forward, and you have a recipe for disaster.

To prevent an ACL injury or begin your recovery and return to play, make sure to focus on hamstring strength. This Lying Hamstring Sequence increases strength in the entire hamstring muscle group to help prevent injury.

Single-Leg Glute Bridge—Novice

  • Lie on back with arms to sides
  • Bend right knee so foot is flat on ground; keep left leg straight and on ground
  • Drive hips toward ceiling and raise left leg; keep left leg in straight line with body
  • Slowly lower to return to starting position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite leg

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each leg

Bosu Glute BridgeBOSU Glute Bridge— Intermediate

  • Lie on back on ground with arms to sides
  • Bend knees and plant feet on BOSU Ball
  • Drive hips to ceiling
  • Slowly lower to return to starting position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2x10

Physioball Hamstring Circles—Advanced

  • Lie with back on ground, heels on physioball and arms to sides
  • Raise body off ground so that only upper back touches floor
  • Draw clockwise circles with heels for specified reps
  • Perform in opposite direction

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each direction

Check out more exercises to prevent ACL injuries.

Photo: lijsoccer.com

For more information on the ACL please see the STACK ACL Guide.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock