2 Great ACL Exercises to Help Reduce Your Chances of a Tear

Written by Tony Sood, Owner and DPT at Total Rehab


ACL tears are one of the most common injuries in Youth Sports. This injury can occur even without contact if an athlete has muscle weakness, poor balance, or the inability to decelerate his or her body. Deceleration requires controlling your body weight during rapid direction changes or when landing from a jump. If the muscles around the hip and knee are unable to stabilize the upper leg over the lower leg, an ACL injury can occur.

Sports physical therapy is a great way to treat current ACL injuries and prevent future ones from happening. With a PT, you can explore a treatment plan suited to your specific injury, including both ACL injury exercises to avoid and which are best. In this article, we’re exploring two ACL exercises that are often prescribed in physical therapy and that can help strengthen the muscle and recover from injury. 

1) Single Leg Deadlift ACL Injury Exercise

One ACL tear exercise that can help address these muscle imbalances is the single leg deadlift. For athletes, this movement develops the single-leg strength needed to be explosive off both legs when sprinting, jumping, and changing directions. It also focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, which are the primary drivers of the skills mentioned above.

More importantly, the Single-Leg RDL ACL exercise helps to eliminate strength imbalances on the left and right sides of the body and improves lower-body stability, which protects the knees from injury like the dreaded ACL tear. 

2) Squat Exercises for ACL Strengthening

Another exercise that should be added to your routine are body weight squats. Once you are able to perform these ACL strengthening  exercises with full range of motion, weight can be slowly added to the program.

Goblet Squat

One variation of the squat I like to incorporate is the goblet squat.

The Goblet Squat is the perfect option for an alternative ACL stretch for an athlete learning how to squat. Someone who has little experience in the weight room can be confident they’re squatting with at least decent form if they can keep the weight in contact with their sternum and stomach, and their elbows touch their knees. Another benefit of this squat as an ACL exercise is that it’s easy on your back.

If Back Squats are uncomfortable or hurt your back, they probably fall under the category of ACL injury exercises to avoid. In this case, Goblet Squats are a great option. The goblet position shifts the load to the front of your core and allows for a more upright torso position, which is easier on the spine. In fact, Goblet Squats can be considered a weighted core exercise in addition to an ACL tear exercise, because your abs, obliques and other core muscles have to engage to perform the exercise properly.

The primary muscles used are similar to other variations of the Squat. The prime movers are the glutes and quads, but other muscles in the lower body also contribute to the movement.

Treat Your ACL Injury Today

Don’t continue to live with pain or discomfort if you’ve suffered an ACL injury. Use the ACL strengthening exercises above to help you on the road to recovery. Also, make sure to seek out a physical therapist that can assist you with not only performing these ACL exercises, but also can prescribe a treatment plan suited to your specific needs. 

Make an appointment with qualified PT clinics, like Total Rehab and more, using the BetterPT website or mobile app. Find a physical therapist near you that can show you ACL stretches and exercises that speed up your recovery and diminish your discomfort.  

Dr. Sood is a Physical Therapist with over 10 years experience specializing in ART(Active Release Technique), and the Graston Technique.

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