Athletic injuries are not always superficial. Instead, they can often involve serious bodily harm that can take weeks, or even months, of recovery. Joints, especially knees, are often the most susceptible to injury because of the amount of wear they receive. ACL tears are an excellent example of such serious injuries.
Sports Medicine: ACL Tears
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments in the knee. It helps prevent the shin bone from moving ahead of the thigh bone. When an ACL tear occurs, the knee may swell, feel unstable and become too painful to bear weight.
Certain sports and activities, such as football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing, have high ACL injury rates. While football players are at greater risk, most ACL tears do not result from contact injuries. Gymnasts are also susceptible, thanks to the propensity for bad falls. Generally, activities involving many sudden stops and turns are more likely to cause ACL tears, similar to how quick stops are bad for a car’s brake pads.
Who is at Risk?
When it comes to those at risk, women are eight times more likely than men to suffer an ACL tear. While the science on why is inconclusive, the different muscular structure due to anatomical differences is possibly the cause.
Preventing an ACL Tear
Sports medicine takes them seriously. Knowing who is at risk of an ACL tear is the first step in working to prevent them from occurring. Since tears in joints often require surgeries to rectify fully, including months of physical therapy for a full recovery, avoiding the tear in the first place is a high priority. Here are some tips on how to prevent an ACL tear:
- Targeted Strength Training – Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes will help stabilize the knee.
- Balance Training – Exercises for the legs and core that help keep you upright
- Warm-Up and Stretching Before Activities – Warm and stretched muscles are less likely to tear when stressed.
- Proper Foot Gear and Technique – The correct shoes for the activity keep one from slipping or sliding, preventing falls. In addition, training in the right technique in executing the moves required for a sport will prevent injuries.
- Consult a Sports Medicine Specialist – A sports medicine specialist can advise on the areas that need work to prevent injuries.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A.
Do you participate in sports? Have you sustained a joint injury? Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A. can help. Our team includes sports medicine specialists and physical therapists that can evaluate you and recommend a program to recover and prevent injury. Contact us today at 252-443-0400 and see what we can do for you.