ACL tears are one of the most common injuries we often hear of due to a number of reasons. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a strong ligament connecting your femur (thigh) to your tibia (shin) bone. ACL tears typically occur during quick movements that include sudden stopping or changing direction.
The reason that many people may know of a friend with knee injury or have hurt the ACL themselves is due to a number of common risk factors.
The risk factors include:
1. Gender– the anatomical, strength and hormonal differences between the genders have been linked to a greater occurrence of females injuring the ACL or knee joint.
2. Lack of Conditioning – it is important to assess the joint above and below – the hip joint and ankle joint and muscles associated with these areas are crucial to keeping the knee happy.
3. Sport Participation – participation in sports that have many stop/start, quick lateral and turning movements increases the risk for knee injury. These can include soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, gymnastics and downhill skiing.
4. Environment and Equipment – this can include playing on turf for example or having equipment such as bindings that are not set up appropriately or footwear that doesn’t support the joints appropriately.
5. Poor Movement Patterns – if your knees fall inward as you squat or step up then you may want to look at working with someone to fix these patterns.
Monster Walks (the exercise above) shows the importance of keeping good alignment of knees over ankles while working the glutes (the joint above the knee) to reduce chance of ACL injury.
Look out for the next post regarding ACL exercises to keep your knees happy and healthy throughout life and sport. The risk factor for osteoarthritis increases once you need knee surgery so stay ahead of it and do the prehab work.
For more info and other risk factors check out:
The image above shows the anatomy of the knee joint and the location of the ACL.