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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I am an athletic trainer with a college-level basketball team. I read an article suggesting that athletes can avoid anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears by making softer landings with more hip and knee flexion. How can this be done when the player is trying to make a rebound or jumping quickly and repeatedly while trying to tip the ball into the basket?

There is some research suggesting hip, knee, and ankle alignment is a key to preventing ACL injuries. Landing on both feet equally with the knees in neutral (not too far in or out) may be crucial. Landing on the balls of the feet and rocking backward may be a good training tip. And as you suggested, using the right amount of hip and knee flexion when landing a jump could prevent ACL tears.

Like many things it may be best to look at this problem on a continuum. To the far left of the line is No Play/No Injury. That's not an option for the athlete. To the far right is Play Hard/Use Any Form. In between may lay the secret to success. Combining the right injury prevention strategies while still enhancing performance is the balance to seek.

As with every new skill, training and practice make a difference. Repeating a new skill over and over is more likely to incorporate it into the athlete's natural form. The athlete may not use perfect form during every play in the game but the chances of injury may be less with overall improved technique.


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