Chances are if you follow any types of sports, you have heard of an ACL tear. Your ACL is a ligament within the knee joint that stops your tibia or shin bone from sliding forward, and limits rotation within the tibia.
How do ACL tears happen?
ACL tears happen with sports that involve running and cutting. They can be caused by a blow to the knee, but a lot of times the ACL can tear without any contact. There are certain risk factors that increase the risk of an ACL tear.
- Playing lacrosse, soccer, basketball, football, or other run heavy sports
- Female athletes
- Wider pelvis to knee angle (also called Q angle)
- Weak hamstrings
- Landing with stiff knees and hips
How do I avoid an ACL tear?
Recent studies have shown there are effective programs to prevent ACL tears, especially in female athletes. These programs include:
- Dynamic stretching of the lower limb
- Cone drills involving changing or speeds and directions
- Plyometric with emphasis on controlled and soft landing
Surgery after an ACL tear usually happens for athletes wanting to return to their sport. But the decision to have surgery depends on age, goals, and fitness level.
In addition to strength and range of motion, is there anything else that can help my ACL recovery?
If you sustain an ACL injury, you may be at risk for later development of arthritis within the knee joint. Whether you are getting surgery or not, make sure to look into the following after an ACL tear.
- Gentle quadriceps (with knee straight) and hamstrings strengthening
- Look into a NMES or electrical stimulation unit for your quadriceps
- Swelling management
- Gently improving the range of motion of the knee with stretching
Can physical therapy help me recover from an ACL injury?
Yes! All of these things, surgery or not, will help you on the road to recovery. Remember, it is hard to manage an ACL tear on your own. It PAYS to have a trained physical therapist to manage your recovery, especially after surgery. DON’T leave your rehab to chance.