ACL Prevention: Improving Balance

ACL Prevention Balance

Keys to Protecting Your Knee

One of the keys to any ACL prevention program is a set of exercises that improve balance. Proprioception, or the ability of the muscles and joints to communicate with each other, is vital to keeping your knee out of the danger zone.

Without good balance, your muscles are unable to function effectively, especially during sports, and your knee is at risk for injury.

Why Does Balance Help?

Balancing exercises force your muscles and joints to increase their communication. As you stand on one leg, all of the joints in your lower body - foot, ankle, knee, and hip - are communicating with all of the different muscles.

They tell the muscles when to contract and when to relax. If their communication is working well, you can stand on one leg without falling. If they are not talking to each other, eventually you will have to touch down.

Sports activities involve the same thing, but at a much higher intensity and a much faster pace. As you land from a rebound, your muscles and joints have just a split second to communicate with each other to keep your knee stable and out of the Danger Zone. Without that communciation, you might suffer an ACL tear.

Balance Builds Control

Balancing exercises that involve movement force your muscles to react to different stresses. This helps to build up your muscle control - one of the keys to preventing ACL injury. Remember, without control, strength doesn't matter.

Balance and Reach
The single leg balance with sideways reach is one of my favorite balance exercises. It helps to improve your hip muscle control, and it works to build strength.

To start, stand on your right leg. Next, try to reach as far to the right as you can with your left leg - reach behind your right and rotate your hips.

Focus on your knee as you reach - try not to let it move toward the middle of your body (the danger zone). Reach as far out to the side as you can without touching the floor, and then return to the starting position.

After a few repetitions, you should feel this exercise working in the outside of your hips.


Balance exercises are an essential part of any acl prevention program. Without them, you can't improve the communication between the muscles and the joints - that communication may be what keeps you from tearing your ACL.

Balance isn't the only key to a successful prevention program. Don't forget about strengthening and jump training too.

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