Stretches to prevent an anterior cruciate ligament injury

Stretching your quadriceps and hamstrings can help prevent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

Do these stretches gradually. Do not push or bounce the stretch. You should feel a stretch, not pain. Exhale as you begin the stretch. While you hold the stretch, inhale. Exhale as you relax.

Quadriceps stretch

Contract your stomach muscles during this stretch so you do not arch your back.

Picture of a person doing a quadriceps stretch
  1. Lie on your side with one hand supporting your head.
  2. Bend your upper leg back and grab your ankle with your hand.
  3. Stretch your leg back. Be sure your calf is lined up with your thigh so that your knee is not twisted.
  4. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds, then relax.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times on each leg.

Hamstring stretch

Picture of a person doing a hamstring stretch

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  1. Sit on the floor with the right leg extended out straight, the knee slightly bent, and the toes pointing toward you.
  2. Bend your left leg so that your left foot is next to the inside of your right thigh.
  3. Lean forward from the hips and reach for your right ankle. Do not try to touch your forehead to your knee.
  4. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds, then relax.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times on each leg.

Last Updated: May 16, 2008

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedic Surgery & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedics

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