ACL Injury Prevention

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ACL Injury

Athletes are prone to numerous injuries during their lifetime. The body takes quite a beating while playing sports. Many of the injuries athletes get can be prevented, allowing the individual to avoid surgical procedures and medical devices as well as keeping them ‘on the field’. One of the most preventable injuries in sports today is an injury to the ACL.
What exactly is the ACL?
The ACL –or anterior cruciate ligament – is a major ligament that is found behind the knee-cap. It’s job is to keep the knee from moving too much, limiting the range of motion and stabilizing the leg. The ACL is attached via the top of the tibia and stretches diagonally up to the back and bottom of the femur. People who experience their knee ‘giving out’ or ‘popping’ usually have some form of ACL injury.
How does an ACL injury happen?
ACL injuries can happen during sports activities and even during normal day to day activities. Most of these injuries are due to sports but the ACL can tear during a motor vehicle accident, a fall at home, a work related accident, rough play or during any other activity that causes the knee to move too far. Most ACL injuries fall under the heading of ‘non-contact’ injuries, meaning without another person involved. For example, you can turn on your foot the wrong way during a pivot or land improperly and tear the ACL. A sign that the ACL is injured is the knee giving out from under when the ligament is torn.
A torn ACL that is due to non-contact occurs when there is a rapid deceleration of the body and the knee. If the body is not properly placed during a sport or physical activity, the knee can be stressed and overloaded. When this happens, the ACL will tear. The knee will not be stable and the pressure from the hips and ankles can weaken it. The muscles in both the shins and thighs will then attempt to control the deceleration of the body and it’s this that causes the stress and possible tear to the ACL.
How do you know if you have an ACL tear?
An athlete can have ACL problems without tearing but if the ligament is not tested, prolonged injury can cause a tear. A good indication that an athlete has an ACL injury is the ‘popping’ of the knee or the knee and leg giving way and causing the athlete to fall. ACL tears usually occur with swelling and pain, but a minor ‘knock’ may not be all that painful. Going to the doctor and having the knee tested for instability and other stressors can be used to identify the problem. Also, an MRI of the knee may be necessary as this will confirm the tear and any other injuries that may have occured with the ACL tear.
What can be done to help heal an ACL injury?
Depending on how severe the ACL injury is will determine what sort of treatment can be used. Athletes who have ACL tears that do not take part in sporting events or who have a partial ACL tear may have to wear a special brace around the knee for a few weeks to help the ligament to heal. However, if the tear is severe and the person relies on the range of motion provided by the knee, reconstructive surgery may be the only option.
Unfortunately, many athletes who suffer from an ACL tear may never regain total mobility in the knee like they had prior to the injury. Therefore, prevention is obviously better than dealing with them after they have occured.
How do you prevent an ACL injury?
It can take more than just strengthening the legs to prevent an ACL injury. Everything from weak hips to the internal rotation of the knee itself can add to an ACL injury. In order to prevent this injury, core body muscles, external hip rotators, the gluteus medius muscle, lower abs and oblique’s all must be stretched and strengthened in order to help prevent an ACL injury. Quadriceps and hamstrings should also be strengthened in an even ratio to help in ACL tear prevention, especially in women who are not as muscular as men. Finally, good calf and ankle muscles are also required as they help control knee deceleration and provide further stability.
Athletes should participate in coordination drills and training in order to learn how to properly move during sports activities. Cutting – the quick side to side movements seen in many sports – as well as landing must be done so that the centre of gravity in the body is lowered and the knee flexes more. The torso should remain upright at all times if possible and where it is feasible, additional movement after the cut or land is encouraged as it helps with the deceleration process in the knee.
Finally, good footwear for the activity is essential. Shoes are important in that they provide stability for the feet and body. They should have a good surface grip to prevent slipping.

ACL Injury

ACL Injury
ACL Injury
ACL Injury
ACL Injury
ACL Injury

ACL Injury

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