Do you have an ACL injury?
Have you had a knee injury that resulted in an injury to your ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament ?
What is the ACL?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments inside your knee joint that helps to stabilise your knee. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament connects the bone in the top of your leg or thigh (femur) and also to the bone in your leg below the knee joint (tibia). The ACL stops the femur sheering forwards and slipping off the tibia. It is most commonly injured or torn when a person suddenly stops and changes in direction in their movement as well as in kicking. It is a really common injury in sports such as tennis soccer, basketball, volleyball and AFL football.
You don’t have to be doing a sporting activity however to have an ACL injury. Injuries to the ACL can range from a mild strain of the ligament, micro tearing, partial tears and complete ruptures. It is possible however to recover from ACL injuries and get your knee felling strong and stable again. Completely torn or ruptured ACL’s will not fix themselves and in many cases can require surgical repair especially if you are young or play sport.
Symptoms of damage to the ACL may include a ‘popping’ sound at the time of injury, swelling/pain, instability in the knee and also an inability to properly weight bear. Athletes and females are the most commonly affected. Proper rehabilitation is often required to avoid surgery. In cases where surgery is required, rehabilitation is also required to avoid re-injury. Correct diagnosis and grading of your injury is important and you should see an Osteopath or Physiotherapist for diagnosis, treatment and management
What kind of Rehabilitation should I do for ACL injury?
The goals in early rehab of an ACL injury include:
- Reduce swelling and pain
- Gaining the ability to weight bear
- Achieve full extension of the knee
intermediate stage rehabilitation
Once initial swelling and pain has subsided, full extension of the knee is restored and normal weight-bearing has been achieved (Early stage), it is important we begin strengthening the knee and the structures related to it. In this early-intermediate stage of ACL rehabilitation, goals include to:
- Develop muscular control
- Improve lower chain strength and endurance
- Restore basic proprioceptive skills
- Restore full knee ROM (including flexion)
- Improve cardiovascular health
later intermediate stage rehabilitation
Once basic lower chain strength and endurance, full ROM and greater muscular control has been achieved [early-intermediate stage], it is important to continue to develop the strength of the knee and develop confidence through varying exercises. In this late-intermediate stage of ACL rehabilitation, goals include to:
- Progress muscular strength and power
- Resume straight line running
- Improve balance, agility and proprioception
- Commence landing drills
- Progress into unilateral leg strength
- Commence change of plane & direction exercises
Watch our video that will take you though the exercises for each phase
Please remember that you should always consult a health professional for a diagnosis and advice before starting any exercise to ensure that it is safe for you and your condition.