September 26, 2012

We are only a month or so into the new Premier League season and already there have been four anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. I have spoken about ACL tears recently

Last weekend veteran QPR striker Andy Johnson tore his ACL. Other players who have had ACL injuries this season are Ryan Taylor of Newcastle and Grant Gardner of West Brom. All have  undergone an ACL reconstruction and will miss the rest of the season.

The latest victim of the ACL curse is young Liverpool and England U21 full back Martin Kelly. His injury can be seen on this video.

His knee was in the position of “no return”.

The point of no return

Are these serious injuries preventable?

There is now good evidence that a prevention program consisting of a mixture of:

1. balance training

2. landing with increased flexion at the knee and hip

3. controlling body motions, especially in deceleration and pivoting manoeuvres

can significantly reduce the number of ACL injuries.

The program needs to be performed more than once a week for a minimum of six weeks.

FIFA have developed an injury prevention program, the FIFA 11 plus, which includes many of the ACL prevention exercises.

Despite the evidence, very few professional footballers undertake this type of program. Unfortunately there is a culture in professional football that prevention is boring and not worth the effort, and the players just want to get out on the pitch and play football. In our first season at Liverpool we instituted a 15 minute injury prevention program before training each day.


All footballers would be wise to invest a few minutes every day on injury prevention.