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The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is a band in the knee that connects the femur to the tibia. It helps keep the joint stable as you walk, run, jump and make other leg movements. It is also one of the most commonly torn ligaments in the body. ACL injuries often require surgery and rehabilitation, which can be damaging for students’ and professional athletes’ careers, and this is the reason why it is so important to focus on injury prevention.
The ACL can be injured in several ways such as:
- Suddenly stopping and changing direction quickly
- Slowing down while running
- Landing from a jump incorrectly
- Direct contact or collision
A torn ACL is one of the most frequently reported sports-related injuries orthopedic surgeons see. Some of the sports where ACL injuries can often occur are soccer, football, tennis, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics. When an ACL injury happens, you might hear a “popping” noise that’s followed by pain and swelling. After this happens, the knee can be unstable and movement can cause wear and tear on the cushioning cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
ACL injuries often require some sort of surgical repair and a minimum of six months to a year of rehabilitation. Having a focus on ACL injury prevention is crucial. Many ACL injuries can be prevented by strengthening the muscles around the knees, along with exercises to help increase balance, flexibility, core strength and stability. Having proper technique and form during sports and physical activities are key.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for helping with ACL injury prevention:
- Stretch and warm-up prior to the activity
- Practice proper landing after jumps with your knees directly over your feet
- Crouch and bend at your knees and hips when you pivot
- Focus on strengthening your hamstrings, quadriceps, hips and thighs
Working with physical therapy specialists, like Joshua Bintz, PT, DPT, and Amanda Askey, PTA, is a good place to start for assessing how you can best modify movements to prevent ACL injuries. Therapists and clinicians can identify and target weak muscles and provide ways to improve strength and assist in preventing injuries.
Contact Miller Ortho for more information or to schedule your appointment.
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