With ACL tear’s becoming more widespread, it’s sparked this odd programming advert about ACL prevention and recovery programs. The gym or person tells you all about their techniques to help with this problem because, well it is a problem and needs some sort of solution no?
I honestly cannot tell you what an ACL prevention or recovery program is, because really they don’t exist. OK I’ll cede the fact that you can do some extra glute activation work, perform some lateral movement/exercises and include some easy 1-leg exercises, but that sounds more like a good well rounded program. Honestly, you show me someone that can afford to skip glute work completely, I’ll call you a liar or they’re the unicorn client of the fitness industry. You 9-5 desk jockey’s, every one of you can get at least 5 minutes of glute work in, some could do upwards of 20 minutes, it still may not be enough. Athletes always need glute work, seriously tell me a sport that can’t use it, football, basketball, soccer, rugby, tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, etc. you get the point.
Single leg work should always be included for all populations, I’ve yet to meet a single person that 1-leg work can’t help them out. I’m talking about a guy that’s had a bullet through his knee, to someone that’s had a slipped disc in her back, to your weekend warriors, to top athletes and everywhere in between. Oh wait guess what one of the muscles you’ll be work is when you do single leg work ding ding ding yes that’s right your glutes. A good hinge pattern will also work wonders for recovery and prevention, but again probably should already be found in the program.
With that, I ask again, why are companies and facilities promoting these ACL prevention and recovery programs? I would understand a physical therapy practice that might want to promote this, more so if a majority of their clients are athletes or they specialize in knee injury rehab. When it comes to coaching and training, your programming should include all of these above magic exercises any way.
I’ve had a few clients with new knees, not just new ACLs, new knees. It didn’t change the basic programming essentials; it just changes where you start within the progression. Instead of having them perform a goblet squats and RDLs, we’re probably looking at just a bodyweight squat to a box (maybe even further digressing that) and a simple hinge against the wall. Once they master that you can add weight or other variables in there. No instability is not the variable to add, leave that to Physical Therapist and the like. Solid ground conquers all instability, but that's a different topic for another day.
How do I prevent people from hurting their knees? Well to start you do an assessment to make sure that their patterns are clean, if they're not clean those up first. After that you should know where on your progressions you are starting this person for their program. Be sure to mix in some of those magic exercises that come from these super secretive specialized programs and voila, strong knees that only an NFL linebacker are going to be able to break. I wish I could make it so knees are made from adamantium, but catastrophic incidences like a car crash or playing collision sports may still result in a major knee injury requiring surgery.
Final note, any coach worth their salt, their program should have injury prevention “methods” all throughout it, no matter the body part. They’re not doing you any favors if they’re just throwing in exercises they think are hard, but aren’t right for you.
Here’s my point on this, I can market a programs like these for ACL or any injury too and make money on it. The issue out there is, there’s no such thing, so overcharging someone for a program like this is messed up and wrong. All good programs should be with the thought to keep you healthy and doing what you do. Whether that is going to work to slam on the keyboard and stare at the computer for 8-10 hours or to step on athletic fields, courts and such.
Coaches here's the basics on "prevention" (or recovery) for ACL/major knee injuries:
Simply put folks, don’t buy into "specialized" programming like this unless the words physical therapy are written on the building.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS