ACL injuries Sports Medicine

Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
are relatively common in sport, especially in 
Australian football, basketball, netball and alpine skiing. Historically, serious injuries to the ACL have prematurely halted sporting careers. However current surgical and rehabilitation practices enable most athletes with 
ACL injuries to resume regular sporting activities.

Anatomy ACL Injury

The knee is one of the most complex joints in the human body. Being a hinge joint it is structured to perform two principal actions, flexion (bending) and extension (straightening). The muscles which act at the knee are predominantly the quadriceps (extension) and the hamstrings (flexion).

The knee is comprised of the bottom end of the femur (thigh) and the upper end of the tibia (shin) and the patella (knee cap). The major ligaments of the knee are the Anterior Cruciate (ACL), the Posterior Cruciate (PCL), and the Medial (MCL) and Lateral (LCL) Collateral Ligaments. These, along with the muscles acting on the knee provide the joint's stability.

Risk
The ACL prevents the femur from moving forwards during weight bearing. It also helps to prevent rotation of the joint.

Injury of the ACL most often occurs when an athlete is pivoting, decelerating suddenly or landing from a jump. The injury can also be caused by another player falling across the knee. Women are more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men.

Prevention
Participating in training drills that require balance, power and agility. Adding plyometric exercises, such as jumping, and balance drills to help improve neuromuscular conditioning and muscular reactions and decrease the risk of ACL injury.
Undergoing an ACL conditioning program. Many team physicians now routinely recommend this for female players.
Undertaking preseason training. Plan for at least four weeks of endurance training before sporting seasons, or prior to the ski season.
Warming up, stretching and cooling down.
Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of training.
Allowing adequate recovery time between workouts or training sessions.
Wearing the right protective equipment including footwear.
Checking the sporting environment for hazards.
Drinking water before, during and after play.
Avoiding activities that cause pain. If pain does occur, discontinuing the activity immediately and commencing RICER.

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