Preventing ACL Injuries in Athletes by Jerry Shreck

Preventing ACL Injuries in Athletes

Today I interviewed long-time Athletic Therapist Jerry Shreck about ACL injury prevention. He’s at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, working with athletes to reduce ACL injuries. Here is what he does. Please listen to the interview. CLICK HERE.

What Jerry Shreck shares in the interview:

  • What’s the big dealWhat’s having ACL injuries on athletes?
  • Differentiates between contact and noncontact ACL injuries
  • Explains why women are more susceptible to getting ACL injuries
  • What is the traditional thinking about fixing the ACL?
  • What preventive measures does he focus on with his athletes regarding ACL injuries?
  • What common mistakes do trainers make when designing a program for ACL injuries?
  • Explains what his Deceleration Training Program is and how people can benefit from it
  • Gave tips on things to do to prevent ACL injuries in your athletes
  • Who is Jerry Shreck?

1. What Is An ACL Injury?

An Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), also known as a torn ACL, is an unfortunate and common sports injury. It is the most frequently injured joint in the human body. The ACL connects the femur bone in your upper leg with the Tibia bone in your lower leg. 

There are two of them, one on each side of your knee. These ligaments act as supports to keep your knee stable while moving. If you play sports involving running, jumping, or pivoting, you risk spraining or tearing your ACL. Symptoms include a popping sensation in your knee and swelling and pain. 

Depending on the severity of the tear, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to fully recover from an ACL injury. An ACL injury can be treated with surgery or non-surgical methods such as physical therapy and strength training.

2. What’s the big deal about having ACL injuries on athletes?

A very traumatic injury where the athlete’s going to lose playing time. They’re going to lose their season, and you’re looking anywhere from six months to a year of rehab. And hoping that they can make it back to almost the level of performance they were before they injured themselves.

However, athletes with ACL injuries usually never return to a hundred percent participation rate as they were before; it’s scarce. They can come back and compete if they have a good rehabilitation process and get it all strengthened and support structures.

3. What Are The Causes of ACL Injuries?

Most ACL injuries occur when the knee is suddenly and forcefully bent, causing excessive stress on the ACL ligaments. Some of the most common causes of ACL injuries include: 

  • Sports that involve running and jumping, such as basketball, soccer, track and field, downhill skiing, and volleyball, are associated with a high risk of ACL injury. 
  • Landing from a jump or stepping off the curb incorrectly can cause the ACL to tear. 
  • Injuries that cause the knee to twist, such as with contact sports like football, rugby, or martial arts, can result in a twisted knee that can damage the ACL. 
  • Being overweight or out of shape can put you at risk for ACL injury.
  • Other knee injuries such as meniscus tears, joint instability, or flat feet can increase your risk of ACL injuries. 
  • A family history of ACL tears can also increase your risk of ACL injury.

4. What are contact and noncontact ACL injuries?

An ACL tear can occur during either a contact or a noncontact activity. Noncontact ACL injuries occur when athletes try to change direction, slow down, or land from a jump. Approximately 70 percent of ACL injuries are noncontact and result from direct blows to the knee that cause it to hyperextend or bend inward. 

5. Why are women more susceptible to getting ACL injuries?

Research in orthopedics has shown that females are two to 10 times more likely than males to suffer an ACL tear in sports such as soccer. Basketball players are twice to seven times more at risk of sustaining an ACL tear than their male counterparts.

6. Tips To Avoid ACL Injuries

  • Warm up before practice or a game to prepare your body for physical activity.
  • Be sure to stretch, especially the muscles and tendons in the legs. 
  • Modify your practice and game routines to avoid unnecessary knee bending. 
  • Wear proper footwear, including good-quality athletic shoes and properly fitting soccer or basketball cleats. 
  • Stay in shape by participating in a regular exercise routine. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep. 
  • Improve your core strength to help support your knee.

7. Signs of an ACL Tear

  • A popping sensation in your knee before feeling pain and swelling. 
  • Feel like your knee gives out and buckles. 
  • A feeling of instability when you try to walk or put weight on your knee.
  • You feel like your knee is shaking when you walk. 
  • Feeling like your knee is caving in towards your other knee. 
  • You feel like you have to put extra effort into walking upstairs.

8. How to Diagnose an ACL Injury

MRI is the most accurate way to diagnose an ACL injury. If you hear a popping sound in your knee, you may have torn your ACL. Your kneecap might move out of place or be off to the side after an ACL injury. And your knee might feel unstable and be hard to walk on. Your knee might swell after the injury. You might hear a clicking sound when you bend and straighten your knee. You might lose strength in your leg after a knee injury.

9. Treating An ACL Injury

  • Rest your knee to avoid further damage and swelling. 
  • Apply ice to the area to help with pain and swelling. 
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen to help manage pain. 
  • Elevate your knee above your heart when resting to help with swelling. 
  • Invest in a knee brace to help stabilize your knee and protect it from further injury and movement. 
  • Participate in physical therapy to regain strength in your knee. 
  • Strengthen your core and leg muscles to help support your knee. 
  • Participate in sports and activities when cleared by your doctor. 
  • Wearing proper protective gear during sports and activities can help protect against future ACL injuries.


An ACL injury can be frustrating and cause you to miss important and fun activities. Knowing the signs of an ACL injury and how to treat and prevent it is essential. 

You can take steps to avoid a knee injury by warming up before a practice or game, stretching correctly, warming up before a game, and wearing proper gear. ACL injuries are most common in sports that involve running and jumping, such as soccer, basketball, and volleyball. 

You can prevent an ACL injury by warming up before a game and strengthening your knee and leg muscles through exercise.

If you want more information on Jerry, you can check out his Deceleration Training Program to Prevent ACL Tears here.

If you liked this interview with Jerry, you would like these other ones as well:

Knee Pain Solved