The Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation Program to Prevent ACL Injuries

So here are the nuts and bolts of the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation Pep Program to help prevent ACL damage during sport.

The key to the program is its emphasis on correct technique and posture especially making sure the knee, hip and foot are all in alignment. Also remember is all about-soft landings! Lots of its components would be part of a normal training session but the main thing is how things are being done and the cues that you use.

The program was written to be completed 3x a week as part of a normal drill/ training session. It should take about 15-20 minutes to complete but like anything the more prepared and familiar you get with the program the quicker it takes.

It starts with a warm up
A: Jogging line to line
B: Shuttle run side to side
C: Backward running (backward running encourages hamstring activation, knees should be kept slightly  bent at all times and the runner should be instructed to ‘run on toes’)
Then comes the strengthening component
This component aims at increasing leg strength, particularly in the muscle groups that help protect the ACL by either maintaining knee, hip and foot alignment (such as the quads and glutes) or by contracting to prevent direct pull on the ligament (mainly the hamstrings).

A. Walking lunges
B. Russian Hamstrings – kneel on the ground with hands by sides – partner holds ankles – lean forward with a straight back.
C. Single Toe Raises

Plyometric’s Component
This component aims to build power, strength and speed. It works on neuromuscular control – that is getting the right muscles to work at the right time.

The landing is the most important aspect of this component. It has to be soft, emphasising landing on the ball of the foot with a slightly bent knee.

A. Lateral hops on line
B. Forward and backward hops over cone
C. Single leg hops over cone
D. Vertical jumps
E. Scissor Jumps

Perform each for 30 seconds

A. Forward run with 3 step deceleration – when decelerating do not let knee extend over toes or sink inwards
B. Lateral Diagonal Runs – Run diagonally  between cones, pivoting to change direction
C. Bounding Run – run with high knees, landing on ball of foot with slight bend in knees

A. Calf Stretch
B. Quadriceps Stretch
C. Hamstring Stretch
D.  Adductor Stretch  (inner thigh)
E.  Hip flexor stretch in lunge position

Don’t forget a cool down – a gentle 10 minute jog.

This is designed to give you an idea of the different components of the program. If you would like more information or are thinking of implementing the program please visit the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation web site at

This program is designed for people over 12. The sight above outlines how the program can be adapted to younger athletes.

Happy exercising…ACL injury free!

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