ACL Injuries: What Athletes Need to Know

Knee injuries for athletes can be one of the hardest injuries to recover from, especially an ACL injury.

An ACL injury can cause a lot of damage and takes a long time to heal, so it’s important that athletes know how to prevent them—and what to do if they occur.

Here is what all athletes need to know about ACL injuries:

What is the ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the primary stabilizer in the knee and one of the most common non-contact sports injuries. It is a strong ligament that allows you to pivot, twist, and turn.

Damage to the ACL occurs when an athlete suddenly stops or pivots, changes direction, or lands after jumping.

ACL injuries are common and complex, with many degrees of severity. Athletes who have ACL injuries often need surgery to restore full knee function.

Recovery from such an injury can be a long and difficult process, but with ACL injury assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation, most athletes are able to return to their previous level of activity.

Reducing the Chance of an ACL Injury

Proper training and exercise programs, especially when done consistently, can substantially reduce the occurrence of ACL injuries.

Regularly scheduled, high-performance training keeps your muscles conditioned and responsive. As a result, your muscles are less likely to fatigue and be subject to injury during physical activity.

By training for performance, athletes will be physically and mentally prepared for the forces, velocities, impacts, and physiological demands relating to a particular sport or activity.

When considering injury mitigation, a professional will leverage the big picture to develop a client’s performance training plan. When clients train from an intelligently designed program (where an emphasis is put on the time spent under progressively higher training tension), their overall capacity increases, limiting the likelihood of injury when the time comes to perform.

ACL Surgery

Severe ACL injuries will almost always require surgery. ACL surgery involves removing the torn ligament fibers and then introducing a substitute piece of tissue (graft) into the knee. The graft is placed through bone tunnels created in the tibia and femur.

Once the graft tissue heals and incorporates within these bone tunnels, that portion that is within the knee joint spanning between the two tunnels becomes the patient’s “new” ACL.

Options for graft material include using a piece of tissue from the patient’s own body (autograft) or cadaveric tissue (allograft). The preferred graft material in most cases is autograft. Options include tissue from the hamstring tendon, patellar tendon, and quadriceps tendon.

Rehabilitation After ACL Surgery

You can end up with a strain, tear, or even completely severed ACL — depending upon what level of injury you have, the treatment methods and type of rehabilitation you will need to go through will vary. For all scenarios, whether surgery is required or not, the rehabilitation process is equally as important for restoring knee function.

At Continuum Health Centre in Victoria, BC, we provide a variety of integrated performance, health, and rehabilitation services for our clients from a diverse team of experienced practitioners.

Our performance therapies are designed to integrate seamlessly with strength and conditioning activities. A holistic approach to rehabilitation and training for performance allows active individuals and athletes to pursue healthy lifestyles. 

We offer support services from highly accredited chiropractors, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, clinical counsellors, registered dieticians, and mental performance consultants