The ACL is one of four ligaments necessary for proper knee stability and function. Rigorous exercises or activities, such as basketball or soccer, that require sudden pivots or stops can significantly increase the chances of an ACL tear, a common injury among athletes - especially females. In fact recent studies reveal that young female athletes are up to eight times more
likely than boys to tear their ACLs. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that in 2006 there were more than 46,000 female athletes age 19 and younger who experienced a sprain and strain of the ACL; nearly 30,000 of these injuries required repair.
Both non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available for ACL injuries. After an ACL injury or ACL reconstruction, an exercise and rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles and restore full joint mobility of the knee may include the following:
- Range-of-motion and stretching exercises designed to restore flexibility.
- Braces to control joint movement.
- Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps and other leg, hip, pelvic and trunk muscles. (Muscle strength is needed to provide the knee with as much support and stability as possible.)
- Additional exercises including balance training, agility and aerobic conditioning like stationary cycling.
An athletic trainer or orthopaedic surgeon can recommend more advanced programs designed to improve technique, strengthen muscles and further decrease the chances for an ACL injury.
This article is part of a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign that is a partnership between the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) targeting ACL injury prevention and treatment among girls. For the PSA campaign materials, please visit: http://www.nata.org/ACL/index.htm
For more information, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Web site at www.orthoinfo.org and the National Athletic Trainers' Association Web site at www.nata.org.
Note: NATA is a President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Science Partner http://www.fitness.gov/about_sciencepartners.htm