You’ve seen it on tv: the moment when an athlete crumples to the floor in pain, holding their knee, and the announcer says, “Oh no, it looks like it could be an ACL tear.”
Or maybe you’ve actually known someone who has torn their ACL, and you watched the pain and rehab they had to go through.
In any case, you might know the term ACL, but you might not know what an ACL is, how it gets injured so often, and how we can prevent the injuries from happening.
Here’s more info about the topic, courtesy of our friends at Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Medicine.
An ACL injury happens when you tear or sprain your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is one of four ligaments that connect your femur (thigh bone) to your tibia (shin bone). It usually occurs when you come to a sudden stop or change direction quickly, causing your knee to turn in a different direction than your foot.
This happens often in sports that require quick pivots and changes of direction, such as basketball, skiing, and soccer. Many people feel and hear a popping sound when the injury occurs, and then your knee may swell and become too painful to bear your weight. Depending on how severe the injury is, treatment may range from rest and rehab to surgery to replace the torn ACL.
While no one can guarantee that you won’t experience an ACL injury, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chance of injury.
First, keep the muscles surrounding your knees strong and flexible with a consistent workout routine. Focus on your quadriceps (front of the thigh) and hamstrings (back of the thigh) to increase your resilience against a knee injury. Plus, don’t forget to stretch and warm up before physical activity. Muscles and ligaments that are cold and stiff are much more prone to injury.
You should also work on improving your balance and technique. Because so many ACL injuries result from a sudden change in direction or speed, improving your balance and strengthening the small muscles from your feet up through your knees and legs will give you a better sense of your body and how to move to prevent injury.
Make sure your shoes fit well too. If they’re not the right size or type for the activity you’re doing, they can impair your balance and increase the chances of an injury.
Finally, avoid exercise or too much physical activity when you’re overly tired. When your muscles become fatigued, they become weak, which means you have a higher chance of experiencing an ACL injury.
If you think you may have an ACL injury but you haven’t been to a doctor yet, feel free to schedule an appointment at Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. Just reach out to one of the offices by phone or use our online scheduler to book a time. We can’t wait to help you get back to your normal activities!