There are several factors that play a role in knee stabilization. The four ligaments of the knee (the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL)) are the static stabilizers which hold the knee in the correct position.
Each ligament has a specific purpose to prevent certain movements of the tibia in relation to the femur. For example, the purpose of the ACL is to prevent anterior translation and medial rotation of the tibia. Damage to the ACL is often correlated with the tearing of any or all of the other ligaments in the knee. The muscles and tendons which surround the knee joint are called dynamic stabilizers. Together they unconsciously flex and extend to control and stabilize the position of the knee joint.
To jumpstart this article, I’d like to start off with some fun facts to get your brain pumping. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the UCSF Departement of Orthopaedic Surgery (http://orthosurg.ucsf.edu/patient-care/divisions/sports-medicine/conditions/knee/anterior-cruciate-ligament-injury-acl/ )
- 200,000 ACL tears occur annually in the U.S. and roughly 100,000 of these knees are reconstructed. This amounts to billions of dollars per year
- 70% of these injuries occur through non-contact mechanisms such as environmental, anatomic, hormonal, and biomechanical.
- Women are three times more likely to have ACL injuries than men (in soccer women are eight times more likely) due to hormonal differences on ligament strength and stiffness, neuromuscular control, lower limb biomechanics and fatigue.
- Women have a smaller ACL compared to men
- Women do not activate their hamstrings as much compared to men during certain movements, causing less stability in the knee joint and more frequent ACL injuries.
By Including neuromuscular training, proprioceptive training and flexibility into your workouts/warm-up, you will directly decrease the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Your workouts should be performed at least 2-3 times a week prior to and during the ski season. Be sure to include a warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and agility.