Much has been said in the media lately about knee injuries in sport, particularly ACL tears. If you’re involved in sport, chances are you know someone who has had an ACL reconstruction. Australia has the highest rate of ACL reconstruction in the world, and this is increasing.
What is the ACL?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main stabilisers inside the knee. It prevents the shin bone (tibia) translating forwards, or dislocating, off the thigh bone (femur).
Injuring your ACL
80% of ACL injuries occur without contact. The ACL is often injured by a twisting and/or sideways movement of the knee, for example when pivoting/changing direction or landing from a jump.
Unfortunately ACL tears do not heal themselves. They generally require reconstructive surgery, and a long period of rehabilitation, to return to pivoting sports. It is also worth noting that ACL injury increases your risk of developing early osteoarthritis, and increases the liklihood of knee replacement later in life.
What can you do?
The best way to avoid knee surgery is to avoid having an ACL injury in the first place. Recently, a lot of research has been dedicated to how we can effectively reduce the risk of ACL tears occurring.
A number of professional bodies have developed injury prevention programs, such as:
- The 11+ (FIFA)
- KNEE program (Netball Australia)
- PEP program (Santa Monica Sports Medicine)
- Footy First & Prep to Play (AFL/AFLW)
While the above programs differ slightly in their composition, there are common elements which we know need to be included in an injury prevention program:
- The program should take at least 15-20 minutes and be performed 2-3 times per week (this may be as a warm up before training or play).
- Should include a combination of running, change of direction and landing practice, plyometrics, leg and core strengthening and stretching exercises.
Dedicating time to including this sort of training into weekly routine has been found to decrease risk of knee and lower limb injury by up to 50%, as well as improving performance in measures of agility, dynamic balance, and vertical jump (power).
For more information call Southside Physiotherapy on 9527 4099, or visit: