An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, or ACL, used to be career-ending. Thankfully, we now see instances where athletes recover from ACL injuries in record time and go on to do great things.
All that great treatment, however, doesn't negate the fact that in youth sports, the occurrence of ACL injuries is actually on the rise. It's better to focus on ACL prevention and avoid a major issue down the road.
This workout focuses on strengthening the hamstrings, rather than the quadriceps or the connective tissue in the knees because athletes already do those sorts of exercises (Squats, Lunges, Leg Presses) regularly and still get ACL injuries.
If your hamstrings are a weak spot in your movement when you bend, your whole leg is whacked out of alignment and you place undue pressure on the ACL. You want your hamstrings, quadriceps and knees to work in harmony. When one begins to carry more of the load than the others, disaster can occur.
This notion is supported by the research conducted in this study.
To strengthen the hamstrings and take the strain off the ACL, try the exercises below. Perform them at a relatively even ratio with quad-dominant exercises. Check out the video playlist above for demonstrations of hamstring-focused exercises and to learn how you can stretch to relieve tight hamstrings.
- Eccentric Hamstring Lengthening via RDLs and Eccentric Glute/Ham
- Concentric Hamstring Shortening via Glute/Ham Raises and Leg Curls
- Quick/Powerful Movements via Olympic Pulls and derivatives
- Single Leg Exercises via Single Leg Deadlifts
- Power Clean (4 x 3)
- Back Squat (5 x 5)
- Bulgarian Split Squat (3 x 8)
- Glute/Ham Raises (4 x 10)
- High Pull (4 x 3)
- Deadlift (5 x 5)
- RDL (4 x 8)
- Single-Leg Deadlift (3 x 10 on each leg)
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock