ACL Injuries

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The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a structure in the knee that most people have heard of, specifically in reference to tearing/rupturing it whilst playing sport!

The ACL runs inside the knee joint from the posterior aspect of the femur (thigh bone) to the anterior aspect of the tibia (shin bone) (1) and is indicated in the below image by numbers 1 and 8.

The ACL has the important function in our knee of resisting hyper-extension and internal rotation (1).

Unfortunately, sports that are commonly played in Australia such as AFL, soccer, netball, basketball, and snow sports have a high rates of ACL injury, with 19 AFL players currently rehabilitating an ACL injury (2). These sports subject the knee to high-impact rotational landing forces, as well as potential contact from the opposition (3).

It’s not all bad news regarding playing sport and the ACL. ACL injury prevention programs are designed to reduce some of the modifiable risk factors for ACL injury and strengthen the body to better cope with the forces placed on the knee whilst playing sport. Research has shown that these programs can reduce the risk of ACL injury in athletes by 50% (4)

Some of the common ACL injury prevention programs include Prep to Play (AFLW), Fifa 11+ (soccer), and Netball Knee. Features these programs all have in common include strengthening of the legs, hips and trunk, as well as teaching the body how to control specific movements.

(2) AFL Injury List (assessed 2/5/24)

(3) Montalvo, A. M., Schneider, D. K., Webster, K. E., Yut, L., Galloway, M. T., Heidt, J. R. S., Kaeding, C. C., Kremcheck, T. E., Magnussen, R. A., Parikh, S. N., Stanfield, D. T., Wall, E. J., & Myer, G. D. (2019). Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk in Sport: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Injury Incidence by Sex and Sport Classification. Journal of athletic training, 54(5), 472-482.

(1) Murray, M. M. (2013). The ACL Handbook : Knee Biology, Mechanics, and Treatment. Dordrecht : Springer.

(4)Webster, K. E., & Hewett, T. E. (2018). Meta‐analysis of meta‐analyses of anterior cruciate ligament injury reduction training programs. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 36(10), 2696-2708.

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