3 Workouts to Reduce Your ACL Injury Risk


Concussions may get the headlines, but ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and lower extremity injuries (knee and ankle sprains) are the primary cause of missed game and practice time in lacrosse. That’s why US Lacrosse invested in research on ACL injury prevention and developed a warm-up and exercise program, called LaxPrep, which can help to reduce an athlete’s risk of lower extremity injury.

“Preventing these injuries is a much better answer than operating on them,” said Dr. Richard Hinton, team physician for the U.S. women’s team and an orthopedic surgeon who performs more than 100 ACL reconstructions annually.

LaxPrep utilizes a three-phase warm-up routine designed to develop core strength, balance and proper landing techniques. It takes just 15 minutes, 2-3 times per week. Some studies have shown reductions of up to 82 percent in relative ACL injury risk.

US Lacrosse created an online training tutorial (learning.uslacrosse.org) to help coaches and athletic trainers implement LaxPrep. One of the keys in the routine is the use of dynamic warm-up exercises before each of the three program phases. US Lacrosse recommends using a therapy resistance band to assist in the exercises.

“Not only is the athlete at less risk of injury, but they will also perform better on the field,” said Dr. Bruce Griffin, director of the Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse.

Mark Mozier, a high school and club girls’ lacrosse coach in Annapolis, Md., as well as the president of the Chesapeake Chapter of US Lacrosse, noticed the benefits of LaxPrep.

“I’m noticing girls who have been doing the exercises with the bands who are quicker and faster,” he said. “I’m definitely convinced.”

Spotty Robins, the varsity boys’ lacrosse coach at Woodberry Forest (Va.) School, hopes LaxPrep will keep his players on the field and out of the training room.

“I tore an ACL and I know firsthand the physical and emotional challenges of reconstructive surgery followed by months of rehabilitation,” Robins said. “I am more than happy to spend a few minutes a couple days a week to decrease the likelihood one of my players will suffer an injury.” 

LaxPrep features 26 exercises spread out over three phases of 3-6 weeks. Incorporating these into your lacrosse-training regimen will reduce the likelihood of ACL injuries derailing your season.

Here are three sample workouts.


Phase 1, Exercise 3

• Lie down on your side with a resistance band around your mid-calf region.

• Keep your feet together and open your legs by lifting your top knee.

• Lower your knee slowly back down toward your resting leg.

• Perform on one side for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side for 30 seconds.


Phase 2, Exercise 8

• Stand on one leg with a slight bend in your knee.

• Hop laterally over your stick, about 12 inches above the ground.

• Land softly on the same leg.

• Pause, then jump back over the stick.

• Continue for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg for 30 seconds.


Phase 3, Exercise 9

• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.

• Squat down and jump straight up in the air, lifting both knees toward your chest. 

• Try to land softly in the same footprint.  Repeat for 30 seconds.

This article appears in the January "Sport Science" edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Visit uslacrosse.org/safety for more information about ACL injury prevention and US Lacrosse initiatives through the Center for Sport Science.

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