Devon Allen is a star athlete at U of O who competes in both football and track. This summer, he finished 5th in the 110 meter hurdles at the Olympic games in Rio. He returned to the Ducks football team, only to have a season ending ACL injury during their game against Nebraska on September 17. In the NFL, Teddy Bridgewater, Danny Woodhead, Hroniss Gronsu, Reggie Raglund, and Lamarr Houston are just a few of the players who are already out for the 2016 season due to ACL tears.

ACL is short for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is an important structure in the knee that restrains the tibia (lower leg bone) from moving and twisting too far relative to the femur (upper leg bone). The ACL can be injured by trauma, such as contact sports, motor vehicle accidents, etc. Most, however, are non-contact injuries, involving a sudden twisting and/or hyperextension of the knee.

Young athletes cannot completely eliminate the risk of ACL injuries, but can significantly reduce it with drills that require balance, power and agility. It is critical that plyometric (jumping and cutting) exercises be practiced regularly to train the body to jump, cut and land in a coordinated manner the will minimize risk of knee hyperextension. Here are three simple exercises that can help:


Single Leg Balance

Single Leg Balance
Stand on your right leg and reach SLOWLY with your left leg for targets to your front and side. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

Squat Jumps

Squat Jumps
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend knees into about a half squat, then jump upward. Land softly (with knees bent) and sink into a half squat again. Repeat 20 times.

Side Hops

Side Hops
Start with feet as shoulder width. Push off your right side, jumping sideways to the left. Land softly (left knee bent), then push off the left to land softly on the right. Repeat 20 times to each side.