Dynamic Knee Valgus
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Where are your knees?
Does your knee go where you tell it to go? Do you know where it should go?
ACL injuries often occur in dynamic knee valgus, or in other words when the athlete is in motion, the leg is subject to force, and the knee is “in” (ever heard a coach cue you with “knees out” in a squat?). If an athlete can control the position of her knee, she will be less likely to injure her ACL (link to reference).
When we think about ACL tears we might think of skiing – there is something about having heavy boots and long blades attached to your feet that increases the demands on your lower extremities. For high school sports, however, soccer, basketball, and gymnastics have the highest rates of ACL injuries. And young women aged 15 to 19 account for the most ACL injuries of any segment of the population.
Now the good news, especially for adolescent CrossFitters: “programs designed to strengthen hamstring and core muscles, improve balance, and teach athletes how to recognize and avoid dynamic knee valgus have been studied [and] most reduce ACL and other lower-extremity injuries” (reference
). CrossFit is an ideal prescription for the prevention of ACL injuries
Functional movements, from squats to deadlifts to lunges, strengthen the posterior chain (hamstring) and the midline (core). Olympic lifts have a potent demand for balance. And by teaching athletes where their knees belong on squats, deadlifts, cleans, and box jumps, coaches can help ingrain healthy knee position in their CrossFit athletes.
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