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Lacrosse is fast-paced and physical, and chances are you’ll suffer an injury at some point.
But even though the game is tough on the body, there are some proactive steps you can take to make sure you avoid truly catastrophic injuries like ACL tears or pulled hamstrings. The key is making sure your body is operating with proper mechanics and structural integrity, and having the mental awareness to move your body in safe patterns.
These exercises are perfect for keeping you in the game—not stuck on the sideline.
#1 Single-Leg RDLs
Romanian Deadlifts, or RDLs, are ideal for hamstring prehab and ACL injury prevention because they do 2 important things:
- RDLs place the hamstring under load both eccentrically and concentrically.
- RDLs challenge the athlete to balance unilaterally, which helps to improve balance and the stability of each knee individually.
Placing the hamstring under both concentric and eccentric loads teaches proper neuromuscular control of the hamstring in high-tension positions—which are often the same positions where injuries occur on the field. Control over the hamstring is not only important in moments of acceleration, but in moments of deceleration as well.
The eccentric component of the single-leg RDL helps your neuromuscular ability to slow your body down while the muscle is under tension. This is hugely important, not only for developing stronger hamstrings for faster sprinting, but also in keeping you safe and healthier when slowing down.
Similarly, training each limb independently challenges your proprioceptive abilities, and can help with overall balance and positional awareness. Often, athletes have a poor distribution of strength between the quads and hamstrings, which is an indicator of ACL injury risk. Single-leg RDLs help to isolate hamstring strength development and balance out the ratio of strength between the two muscles groups, leading to a more stable and secure knee joint.
#2 Eccentric Hamstring Curls
Performing eccentric hamstring work is like putting money in the bank. They are a solid investment in reducing your risk of hamstring injuries, and will develop hamstring strength better than any other movement with minimal equipment.
The focus on eccentric contraction (where the muscle is under tension while lengthening) trains the muscle to be stronger at longer lengths. The stronger the hamstring is at longer lengths, the more force it can produce (and handle) in high-tension, high-velocity movements like sprinting. Not to mention you’ll also be increasing the posterior stability of the knee and reinforcing that ACL as well.
Eccentric hamstring curls may take a while to get used to, as the strength require just to perform them is relatively high, but they are exponentially worth the effort.
#3 Front Squats
Front squats are a crucial movement for all athletes, but especially lacrosse players. Why? They demand you to be mobile in the ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, and wrists. Front squats can be frustrating if you’re lacking any range of motion in those areas, but consistently practicing front squats is a great way to help increase your overall mobility.
Another reason front squats are great is that they demand that your core remain upright while your hips and legs work together to move resistance—which means you are structurally bracing the core to maintain a powerful position.
Practicing this movement pattern translates to better transition of lower body force through the body, meaning harder shots, harder hits, and more resilience against defenders trying to blow you up.
In a physical sport like lacrosse, the more stable the core, the healthier and safer the athlete.
Making sure you are training optimally is imperative to keeping your body healthy and injury-free.
There is a lot of misinformation about training out there, and it’s easy to get lost in the mess and misplace your training goals and priorities. If you’re looking to get better and reduce your risk of injury during lacrosse, learn how to do these movements properly and make sure they are a regular part of your training plan.