Training Female Athletes and Clients Part 3: The ACL Reduction Solution
If you missed parts 1 or 2 you can read them now by clicking on the links below.
This final part of the series is all about that career threatening, horror of all injuries, the ACL rupture!
It’s a well known fact that female athletes suffer from ACL injuries significantly more so than males and this needs to be accounted for in their S&C programmes. See this recent link with reference to the women’s world cup to illustrate the point:
In terms of exercise selection there really is no additional ‘special’ exercises that help with ACL injury reduction. Rather, a good functional training programme emphasising strength development in the key areas should tackle this in itself.
Specifically for female athletes there has to be a strong emphasis on single leg strength and stability in addition to core strength and endurance, as well as dynamic stability in movement in the form of hops, jumps and bounds. Coaching and developing this is a whole article series in itself, but looking specifically at single leg strength some of the key movements I include in my programmes are:
- Single Leg Squats
- Step-Ups- both forward and lateral
- Single Leg stiff legged deadlifts
- Split squats
- Lateral lunges
- Mini band walks
In all of these movements the key cues are control of the knee, you do not want to place the knee in that injurious position of flexion and internal rotation. Emphasise driving through the heels in the squats and deadlifts, and pushing the hips back, all the standard cues.
Here’s a progression for single leg squats:
- Single Leg balance with knee flexion 3 x 30s each leg
- Single leg Dips ( around 1/4 squat position) 3 x 30s each leg
- Single leg toe touches from 6-12 inch box 3 x 10 each leg
- Single leg heel touches from 6-12 inch box 3 x 8 each leg
- Single leg squats to parallel from 12-18 inch box 3 x 6-8 each leg
- Weighted single leg squats 3 x 5 each leg
Working through these progressions can take a few months or more for some athletes where as others of course will progress very quickly. The key like all exercises is to demand a high level of technical execution incorporating the glutes as well as the quads and good back posture.
Thats all for the series on training female athletes, really nothing ground breaking as much as a snapshot into 3 goals of training that I tend to place an emphasis on. In general, Improve your movement, strength, power and general athleticism and you can’t go far wrong.
To be perfectly honest you can’t get a more accurate portrayal of my philosophy of training that the quote I have on the gym wall at Carnegie, which applies equally to both men and women alike:
“Everyone has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire to prepare”
I also like the old classic ‘train hard, fight easy’ , whichever floats your boat!
Good luck with your coaching and training,