You don’t have to be an NBA star to experience an ACL injury, but the problem causes pain that can sideline you for a long time, whether you’re LeBron James or a typical weekend warrior.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, and it is one of your knee’s major ligaments. Your knee often lets you know about an ACL injury audibly — many people hear a distinct pop when the injury occurs. That pop is just the beginning of a long trajectory of instability, pain, and drastically reduced range of motion.
Around 200,000 people experience ACL injuries each year, and most are women, due to the way they jump and land on the ground, and the fact that there’s disequilibrium in the strength of their leg muscles.
Dr. Struan Coleman and our expert team have extensive experience treating ACL injuries in many ways, from conservative treatments to surgery. He’s earned the trust of many professional athletes as well.
We’re also big believers in educating our patients about injury prevention, because avoiding that nasty ACL injury is best.
5 practices you can adopt to prevent ACL injuries
Here we review what we consider to be the most effective steps you can take to protect yourself from an ACL injury. We want you to avoid the pain, rehabilitation, and treatment that accompany one if you can.
You’ll notice an emphasis on balance in most of them, whether that’s how much you work a muscle or how you sustain yourself nutritionally, as well as simply listening to your body.
1. Technique is everything
When playing any sport, proper form not only allows you to play your best, it actually helps to protect you from injury. Try to be mindful at all times of how you’re moving, and this includes days of rest in your regimen and simply not playing when you’re fatigued.
2. Work to develop both strength and flexibility
With these two variables, it’s not an “either or” situation. A muscle that’s too tight is more likely to get injured, as is one that’s overstretched. Likewise, if your leg muscles lack the ability to withstand the demands of your movements, you raise the risk of an ACL injury.
Ditto when it comes to your muscle groups. You need both your core and the muscles in your limbs to be equally trained and worked for optimum strength and stability.
3. Perfect your landing skills
Whether you’re playing soccer, basketball, tennis, or dancing, try always to land on both feet and every time you land, be sure to bend your knees a bit and keep them shoulder-width apart. These moves offer you vital protection from an ACL injury.
4. Dress the part
Don’t ignore proper attire when you play and move. Make sure you have well-fitting shoes that are designed for the sport you’re participating in, and use knee pads as needed. Prophylactic knee braces are even being used now as a preventive measure for knee injuries.
5. Be mindful of how you fuel your body
We can’t emphasize enough how important staying well-hydrated and eating a healthy diet is to your performance and, in turn, to your likelihood of avoiding an ACL injury. Load up on a nutrient-rich diet heavy on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and other good things. And remember, you generally need water before you ever feel any thirst!
Practicing these habits can greatly reduce your chances of suffering an ACL mishap, but if you do, we’re here to provide the most advanced treatment available, whether you need rest, physical therapy, or knee arthroscopy to surgically repair your ACL.
Dr. Coleman is highly experienced in performing this innovative minimally invasive procedure, during which he’s aided by a small video camera on a thin, bendable tube. He makes just a few very small incisions and then repairs your ACL injury, and your post-surgery recovery is markedly faster and easier compared to traditional open surgery.
Love your knees and they’ll love you back
We can help you avoid injuring your ACL with advice like this, and we can treat an injury if you’re experiencing injury-related pain. Call one of our offices to schedule a consultation, or arrange one using our online booking tool.