The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an extremely important ligament in terms of overall knee integrity and stability. Specifically, the ACL connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and runs at an oblique angle from the posterior aspect of the femur to the anterior aspect of the tibia. Due to this arrangement, the ACL is responsible for preventing anterior translation (forward movement) of the tibia or posterior translation (backward movement) of the femur.
Now, many of us are aware of the importance of the quadriceps to knee health, but, often times, the hamstrings get neglected. The hamstrings run along the posterior (backside) of the thigh and insert onto the posterior surfaces of the tibia and fibula (shin bones). When contracting, the hamstrings work to bend the knee, but also pull the tibia posteriorly. In this way, the hamstrings can serve as a dynamic protector of the ACL by limiting excessive anterior displacement of the tibia and strain on the ligament.
If you are looking to reduce your risk of ACL injury or recovering from an ACL reconstruction, don’t forget to include hamstring work in your strength training program as this group has an instrumental role in protecting the ACL.
Credits to Physio Network author, Dr. Tom Walters.