Unless told to do otherwise by your doctor, you should not wear a brace or support during routine activities. The supporting muscles and connective tissue surrounding your knee need to be stronger and more flexible. Slapping on a brace that forces your knee to move in a single plane can actually be detrimental to the health of your knee.
However, if you have weakness in your knee or are actually recovering from a torn ACL you will probably want to support the joint with a brace when you are practicing or playing a sport. If you do not already have a brace, you should look for one with the optimal level of support: too rigid and you’ll reduce your range of motion too much; too flexible and you might as well not be wearing a brace at all.
The Brace Shop describes the support levels you are most likely to want to consider:
Level II — Braces in this level offer ADDITIONAL protection and support features. These braces are usually made of neoprene, elastic or more exotic materials that provide added support not found in level I braces. Simple non-adjustable hinges may be included in knee braces to provide medial and lateral stability to protect the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, meniscus and joint cartilage. Metal or plastic stays and straps may be included in ankle, back and wrist braces to add support and rigidity to the brace.
Level III — Braces in this level offer ADVANCED protection and support features. These braces are usually made of neoprene, elastic or more exotic materials that provide added support not found in level II braces. Adjustable hinges may be included in knee braces to provide protection of the ACL and PCL ligaments. Flexion and extension stops may be included to control knee joint range of motion. More advanced protection is provided for the medial and lateral collateral ligaments, meniscus and joint cartilage. Ankle braces will have advanced features such as figure 8 strapping or removable inserts for added rigidity. Wrist braces will contain more rigid support and adjustability.
Go to the Brace Shop’s online store to find the right brace for your situation.
Proper nutrition will lead to a healthier body, less fat, more muscle, and ultimately less stress on your knees–all key to reducing the risk of a torn ACL. Everyone seems to have a "diet" program, but an active, athletic person needs a nutrition plan, not a diet.
Look for a plan that is geared toward athletes: it will allow you to adjust your goals based on performance needs, body composition targets, and/or current fitness capabilities. You want a plan that will help you build strength–not necessarily add size to your muscles–while reducing your body fat percentage. Here are three plans that are regularly praised by personal trainers and athletes as being effective in the areas that count: increasing strength (when used alongside a resistance training program), decreasing fat, and improving health.
“Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle“ by Tom Venuto.
“Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” (BFFM) is a 337 page fat burning success manual in downloadable e-book format, jam-packed cover to cover with all the fat loss methods previously known by only a small handful of the worlds best fitness models and bodybuilders. This program contains all the information you’ll ever need to help you melt away body fat permanently without muscle loss and without using drugs or unnecessary supplements.
10/10 Transformation – Chad Waterbury
Body transformation expert, Chad Waterbury, has designed the ultimate training and nutritional program to strip off 10 pounds of fat and add 10 pounds of muscle faster than you ever thought possible!
The Fat Loss Troubleshoot by Leigh Peele.
The definitive manual on Fat Loss. No manual gets into the basics and advanced information on fat loss like this book does, period. It is 150 pages of study, stories, lessons, tips, tricks, and knowledge on what has become (but shouldn’t be) the most complicated process in our society right now.
Flexibility is a key element in preventing a torn ACL. Sometimes people get an image of floppiness or looseness when they hear the term "flexibility." Quite the contrary, having flexible connective tissue-tendons and ligaments-as well as the muscles themselves allows these structures to operate in their full range of motion without injury and to respond to sudden shocks while maintaining stability.
Flexible muscles, tendons and ligaments allow the power generated by the muscles to move the body more efficiently, and with less chance of injury. Think of a supple sapling in a wind storm, able to bend and move with the power of the storm. Think now of a seemingly strong, stiff oak tree, which is more likely to snap or be uprooted because it cannot bend.
How do you become more flexible? Stretching, of course! Easy, right? Not so fast. The fitness and sports conditioning communities have a running debate about what is the most effective stretching method: static or dynamic.
Static stretches are the stretch and hold routines-several sets of 30 second stretches per muscle group-while dynamic stretches involve engaging the opposing muscle to the one you’re stretching (up to 20 repetitions of 2 second stretches) in order to get the most out of your efforts.
Do yourself a favor and try out both methods to see what works best for you–you may even find that some combination of static and dynamic stretching meets your needs. Two of the classics in the field are Stretching, 20th Anniversary Revised Edition, by Bob and Jean Anderson, which comes from the static approach, and The Whartons’ Stretch Book, by Jim and Phil Wharton, a dynamic or "active isolated stretching" plan.
Even if you belong to a club or team with access to strength training equipment…even if you are a member of that state of the art gym across town…you still want to have your own home gym setup so you can continue to build strength, even if you can’t make it to your usual workout facility
Limitations due to space and expense will play a large role in exactly how you equip your home gym. A set of dumbells and a bench could quite easily serve most of your home gym needs.
Another option is to invest in a machine, such as a Bowflex, that is designed to allow for a wide variety of resistance exercises with a high degree of safety. The Bowflex provides variable resistance through a series of rods that give the user significant control over the load they move for each exercise.
The Total Gym is another all in one exercise machine, but unlike the Bowflex it makes use of the exerciser’s own body weight to provide resistance. Again, you get a wide variety of exercises through using a single machine. To learn more about the Total Gym–and receive a great trial offer–click on the following link:
If the space you have available for your home gym setup is limited, you may want to consider a portable resistance system. One of the best of its kind is the TRX Suspension Trainer. Suspension training leverages one’s own bodyweight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility and joint stability simultaneously. In other words, suspension training is absolutely ideal for developing the kind of fitness that works to protect your knees–and other joints, for that matter.
TRX® Suspension Training® harnesses your own bodyweight to create resistance as you train. That’s all you need – the TRX and your own body. No additional weights required.
Don't fall for the obsession with isolating the VMO (vastus medialis obliquus) muscle as a way to strengthen the knee. The VMO is one of the quadriceps muscles–the one that attaches to the inside of the knee–and it is often underdeveloped compared to the other quad muscles. This has lead some to suggest strengthening it through isloation exercises. Unfortunately, it's really not possible to isolate the VMO. Instead, you should focus on multiple joint movements that will lead to greater strength in all the major muscle groups in your leg.
If you are under a doctor's or physical therapist's care and he or she has designed a regime of isolation exercises, such as terminal knee extensions (TKEs), follow those instructions. Otherwise, incorporate such lifts as squats and deadlifts into your exercise plan. Start with light resistance, focus on form and build strength carefully.
Although the big moves mentioned above are important, there is also a great exercise that specifically strengthens the stabilizing muscles around the knee: the Peterson step-up. The following video describes the mechanics:
Understanding and Preventing Noncontact ACL Injuries. With more than 200,000 athletes each year suffering noncontact injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee, there is finally an up-to-date reference for coaches, parents, athletes, and medical professionals whose work involves developing and implementing programs to prevent such injuries.
There are many approaches to achieving functional full-body strength improvement, and you need to choose what works for you. Of course, if you are part of an organized team, you will probably have a strength and conditioning program already laid out for you. Even in those cases, you can supplement your sport-specific training with training that strengthens your entire body.
Steer away from bodybuilding programs that are designed more for vanity than for developing athletic, functional strength. It is particularly important that any program you choose aim to develop strength in your core, which is the ring of muscles that ring your lower torso (some consider the gluteals to be a part of the core as well).Though it doesn’t sound terribly intuitive, core strength is absolutely essential for knee health. Movement begins in your core, and that part of your musculoskeletal system is largely responsible for your being able to maintain or regain stability.
Also–and this is often easier said than done–be sure that whatever plan you pursue is doable. That’s often determined by the amount of time, frequency of workouts and equipment required.
Three programs that take different, but equally effective, approaches to full body–including core–strength training.
"Core Performance" is a great program for athletes. It is designed to improve strength, focusing of course on the core, but also working all the major muscle groups in the body. Core Performance also guides the athlete in improving movement skills, agility and flexibility.
The "Classical Pilates" DVD is a faithful presentation of Joseph Pilates’ original mat routines that are absolutely unrivaled in strengthening the core, primarily, and the rest of the body as well.
Finally, "Turbulence Training" is really an all-in-one strength and nutrition program that fits our requirement to be doable: real gains in strength and fat loss–both valuable for preventing or recovering from a torn ACL–are realized through three 45 minute training sessions per week. This program lays out routines for use with the dumbbell and bench setup that Torn-ACL.com recommends as a basic home gym. It also details bodyweight exercises for use when even minimal equipment isn’t available.