Can a 10-Minute Warm-Up Prevent ACL Tears?

A recent study concluded that performing a neuromuscular warm-up prior to athletic activity can cut your risk of suffering an ACL injury in half.


Risk of injury is something all athletes face when they put on a uniform. Some injuries—like ACL tears, for example—require expensive surgeries and prolonged rehabilitation—meaning weeks or months away from the practice field.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears have become one of the most common knee injuries, affecting approximately 150,000 athletes a year. The ACL is one of four ligaments holding the knee joint together, and it can tear if you land wrong on a jump, change direction too quickly, directly collide with something or stop suddenly.

But what if a simple warm-up improved your odds of staying healthy and averted the need to spend thousands of dollars on medical bills?

As reported by Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times, in a recent presentation for The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Dr. Eric Swart asserted that engaging in a 15- to 20-minute neuromuscular training warm-up cuts your chances of suffering an ACL injury in half.

A resident in orthopedic surgery at Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York, Dr. Swart said that recovery from an ACL tear costs about $15,000 in surgery and rehabilitation fees. With a 3 percent chance that an athlete will suffer and ACL injury, Swart said that the cost of skipping a warm-up before activity averaged about $500 per player. He conducted physical trials on 14- to 22-year-old athletes to see how a 15- to 20-minute neuromuscular warm-up affected their rate of injury.

Neuromuscular training consists of exercises involving marching, jumping, jogging, lateral shuffling and other movements that teach the body how to change directions, jump, cut, and perform other athletic movements that often lead to injury.

Swart's study concluded that warm-up exercises cut the risk of injury in half, while lowering the average cost for medical treatment from $500 to $1.25 per athlete.

As a high-performing athlete, you really can't afford not to warm up. Check out the articles below to find sample neuromuscular warm-ups to incorporate into your workouts to reduce your risk of sustaining an ACL injury.


Swart, Eric F, et al. "Prevention Programs for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis." American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Published:

Reynolds, Gretchen, "How a Warm-Up Routine Can Save Your Knees." The New York Times. Published:

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