This past Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers were taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. San Francisco is led by $137 million dollar man, Jimmy Garoppolo. The one who TMZ loves following because he dates super models and porn stars apparently.
On a scramble out of the pocket, Garoppolo was running for the first down when he took a shot that caused him to fall to the ground and he did not get up. Rolling around in obvious pain grabbing his knee.
If you look closer though, Garoppolo was trying to do a cut to avoid the defender when his leg just went limp. This happened right before the hit. My guess, and everybody that has watched it, is that Garoppolo tore his ACL right there which allowed him to get blasted. The hit had nothing to do with his knee going.
Funny thing is that the majority of ACL tears that occur are non-contact injuries. They also happen due to an individual decelerating in some way or fashion. Just like what Jimmy Garoppolo was doing. He was running then decelerated quickly to attempt a cutback of some sort. Didn’t work out too well.
In order to try and reduce those non-contact ACL injuries, there are a few things that your athlete should work on in his/her training to better prep the body.
This isn’t an all-encompassing list. I’m sure there are some drills that could be added to this list, but these are ones I would include in a program:
- I think plyometrics are great for speed development, power, and explosion. I also feel that it can replicate the forces the body feels during a game or competition. Especially, doing a lateral plyometric. Lateral plyos can help the body prepare for the high speed cuts an athlete has to do during a game.
- With plyometrics, you start with two legs and the next progression would be single leg plyos. Running and playing sports is a series of single leg explosions. Doing single leg plyos helps prepare the body for those single leg explosions. Don’t attempt this too early in your training. Your body needs to properly adapt to it.
- Doing plyos is cool, but how you do them will be key. I like to do them rapid fire because that will help with your acceleration and running speed. The more power you generate and the quicker off the ground you are translates directly to speed. But, sticking the landing, especially with single leg, helps prep the body for deceleration. Deceleration, you know the phase where people usually blow their ACL. If you can work on this here, then hopefully it better preps you for when you have to do sudden deceleration movements like change of direction.
- Finally, strengthening the legs will be big. As you develop this power and explosiveness, the only way you will do it will be by getting stronger. But, specifically to help with the knee, you need to strengthen the posterior leg muscles – i.e. your glutes and hamstrings and a little bit of your calves. The stronger you get those muscles, the better you can do the plyometrics, and the less chance you have of tearing an ACL.
This isn’t a foolproof gameplan to prevent tearing your ACL. I’ve seen athletes I thought we had done everything in our power to prevent the ACL from blowing and still tear the ACL. But, it will definitely reduce your chances.
The knowledge is out there. You need to apply it and do it though. If you tear your ACL, but never did any of this, then you will always be wondering what if. Increase your odds to being healthy. Start doing these things today and as an added bonus, you will get faster. Sweet!