What can I do to prevent an ACL injury?
How do I return to sport post ACL injury?
Are there online ACL programmes to help me?
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are a common occurrence among athletes, especially those who participate in high-impact sports such as football, basketball, and soccer. Injuries to the ACL can be extremely debilitating, and can take a long time to heal, often requiring surgery and physical therapy to fully recover. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of ACL injuries, the symptoms to look out for, and the different treatment options available.
Firstly, let’s talk about what the ACL actually is. The ACL is one of four main ligaments in the knee joint, and it plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee during movements such as running, jumping, and cutting. The ACL can be injured in a number of ways, including sudden changes in direction, direct blows to the knee, and landing awkwardly from a jump. Women are also more prone to ACL injuries than men due to differences in anatomy such as wider hips and a smaller notch in the femur bone.
Symptoms of an ACL injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but they often include a popping sensation in the knee, severe pain, swelling, giving way and difficulty walking, or bearing weight on the affected leg. They do not come on gradually, and will inevitably be a sudden acute onset injury.
If you experience any of these symptoms after a sports-related injury, it’s important to get it seen tooget booked in our sports injury clinic to complete a thorough assessment, diagnosis and management plan specific to your needs. Now, let’s get into the fun part – how to prevent ACL injuries. The good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of injuring your ACL while playing ports.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Strengthen your legs: Strong leg muscles can help support the knee joint and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on exercises that target the quadriceps, soleus, hamstrings, and glutes, such as single leg squat variations, calf raises, multi directional lunges, and split stance deadlifts.
2. Warm up before playing: Taking the time to warm up before playing sports can help prepare your body for the physical demands of the game. Try doing some low intensity running drills, jumping, single leg jumping, focusing on landing position and neuromuscular control. For more info on this, please get in touch with us, to guide you on a warm up routine.
3. Use proper technique: Proper technique is key to avoiding injury. Make sure you are using the correct form when jumping, cutting, and landing to reduce the stress on your knees. This involves exploding off the ground like a rocket when you change direction and learning to land softly when taking part in jumping sports.
4. Playing sports is much different to the gym. It involves faster movement patterns, multi directional triplanar movements, and ACL injuries occasionally occur when we are fatigued at the end of a training session. For guidance with this, make an appointment at Pro Health Physio NE, to help understand physio matters with Newcastle upon Tyne’s best sports physiotherapists for knee pain!
Here is a Google Review from a doctor who recently saw us post ACL reconstruction:
‘Darren has been a fab physio. I had torn my MCL, ACL and meniscus. I came to Darren after my ACL reconstruction after seeing a different physio but still struggling a lot with pain. He initially took a thorough history and assessment and developed a program to hit personal goals. I’ve gone form not being able to do much to running in 2-3 months. I feel like my mobility is much better and I’m not getting the same knee pain at all! I’d recommend him as a physio, especially if you’ve had ACL reconstruction as he really knows his stuff!’
If you do end up injuring your ACL, there are several treatment options available depending on the severity of the injury. In some cases, rest, ice, sports massage and physical therapy may be enough to manage the injury. However, more severe injuries may require surgery to repair or replace the torn ligament. We can arrange investigations such as MRI to confirm diagnosis through links with local imaging/MRI centres. Following an in-depth assessment at Pro Health Physio NE, we can refer you to an Orthopaedic Consultant who specialises in ACL surgery, knee reconstruction, and the various types of grafts used in ACL operations.
Physical therapy is a crucial part of the process for ACL injuries, and can help improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected leg either pre-operation and/or post operation. If you are intending on having an ACL operation, it is advisable to start some physio treatment, before your operation so the recovery post op is quicker and less challenging. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include exercises such as strengthening, balance, coordination, agility, return to sport and running re-education. The general management includes education, exercise prescription, S&C, advice and activity management. It’s important to remember that recovery from an ACL and any knee ligament injury can take time (3-6 months), and it’s important to be patient and follow your physical therapist’s instructions closely. Rushing back into sports too soon (general return is 6-9 months) can increase your risk of re-injury, so it’s important to take the time to fully recover before returning to play. The graft tends to be weakest at the 10-12-week stage due to neovascularization, so it’s important to seek physio support near you.
In conclusion, ACL injuries are a common occurrence among athletes, but there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of injury. It is important to know, not all ACL or knee ligament injuries need an operation. It is still possible to return to running, cycling, low-intensity 5 aside football without a surgical operation.
By focusing on proper technique, strengthening your legs, warming up appropriately and being specific with your gym exercises and rehab, you can help protect your knees from injury. Pro Health Physio NE has extensive experience working within rugby at Newcastle Falcons, basketball at Newcastle Eagles, England Basketball and Great Britain Basketball, and football at i2i Soccer Academy. If you do end up injuring your ACL, we have a dedicated team of specialist sports physiotherapists at Pro Health Physio in the heart of Newcastle to guide you back to what matters most to you!
Are you based outside of Newcastle upon Tyne?
We offer virtual appointments in addition to face to face appointments. Pro Health Physio NE have an Anterior Cruciate Ligament online programme for those who are looking for the cutting-edge research, rehabilitation, exercises and education to get you back to sport. Whether you are looking for a running physio, rugby physio, football physio or netball physio, we have an online ACL program designed to get you back to your sport. To find out more about the program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org