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An ACL injury refers to the anterior cruciate ligament becoming torn as a result of an injury. This injury may result in the affected knee feeling loose or unstable, and the affected knee may give out if the athlete returns to playing soccer too soon. This ligament is particularly vulnerable to the demands of soccer, basketball, football, gymnastics and volleyball. ACL injury prevention for soccer players is of particular concern because this sport is hard on the knees. There are several things soccer players can do when training and conditioning and during a game to help prevent this side-lining injury.
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The first thing a soccer player, or any athlete actually, needs to do prior to training or playing is to warm up. This only takes a few minutes and plays a major role in preventing an ACL injury during soccer training. Warming up gets the athlete ready for activity. To begin the warm up, the athlete should jog line to line for about 30 seconds. It is important to maintain proper hip/knee/ankle alignment when jogging. Next, the athlete should perform a shuttle run for about one minute. This helps to increase speed and engage the hip muscles. Backward running is next and should be done for about a minute and a half. This engages the hamstrings and hip extensors. As the athlete is performing this exercise, he or she must ensure they are landing on their toes and keeps their knees slightly bent.
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Once the athlete has completed the warm up the next part of ACL injury for soccer players is stretching. The calf stretch is often done first. The athlete should perform two reps at 30 seconds each. The second stretch is the quadricep stretch which should be held for 30 seconds and the athlete should do two reps. The athlete should then perform two reps of the hamstring stretch for 30 seconds each.
He should then do the inner thigh stretch. This stretch should be held for 20 seconds and he should do three reps. The hip flexor stretch should be held for 20 seconds and the athlete should do two reps.
When stretching it is extremely important to not jerk or bounce, but to gently and carefully stretch until there is tension, not pain or discomfort, but tension, and hold. When holding the stretch it is important to breath normally.
When stretching it is important to ensure both sides are stretched equally. For example, the calf stretch should be done on both legs. Each leg gets two reps at 30 seconds each. Also, if any pain or discomfort is experienced during stretching the athlete should immediately stop the stretch and alert their coach and/or trainer.
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MayoClinic.com. (2009). ACL Injury. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from MayoClinic.com: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acl-injury/DS00898
Chiaia, T. PT & de Mille, P., RN, MA, RCEP, CSCS. (2009). ACL Injury Prevention Tips and Exercises: Stay Off the Sidelines. Retrieved on November 22, 2010 from the Hospital for Special Surgery: http://www.hss.edu/conditions_acl-injury-prevention-stay-off-sidelines.asp