ACL Injuries In Sport – The Facts, Prevention and Recovery

Did you know that Australia has one of the highest ACL injury rates in the world?  

One of the most common knee injuries we see in our practice is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) sprain or tear. The ACL is a key ligament in the knee as it helps stabilise the joint while in movement. The injury often occurs due to the sudden stops, pivoting or changes of direction that causes the ligament to tear or rupture. We are often told that clients can hear a pop or feel a “popping” sensation when this injury occurs. Due to the nature of this injury, it is not a surprise that it is the most common injury in sports such as basketball, netball, soccer and rugby league.  

Here are a few surprising facts that you may not have known about ACL injuries.  

  • The ACL injury is most common in those aged between 18 and 24 years.  
  • 72% of ACL injuries in Australia are sports related.  
  • Women have a three to five times greater risk of injuring the ACL compared to men.  
  • Those who have had an ACL injury under 18 are ten times more likely to develop early Arthritis in the knee.  

Prevention   

Although you cannot avoid an injury while playing high contact sports, you can always prepare for them. As we already know warming up, stretching and cooling down the body is essential when playing sports or exercising. However, they are also crucial in preventing ACL injuries. Warming up the knee can increase synovial fluids in the joint which allows the knee to move more efficiently and become more flexible when in motion.  

Another way you can prevent injury to the ACL is by participating in training drills of balance, power, and agility. The plyometric exercises in these drills can help strengthen the ligaments and improve muscular reactions of the knee. These agility drills will help decrease the risk of ACL injury by strengthening the knee and surrounding muscles. 

Recovery  

For athletes who have injured their ACL and want to continue playing competitive sports, they are more likely to require knee reconstruction surgery to repair the ACL. Since 2000, the rate of knee reconstruction in Australia has increased by 73% between the ages 13 and 25. 

Although you may not require surgery at the time of injury, continuing to participate in sport with an injured ACL can lead to the knee becoming more unstable and can cause further injury to the cartilage and meniscus over time. If you want to return to the sports you love, it is often recommended by a doctor to have surgery. 

After you’ve undergone surgery, ACL rehabilitation is essential to a successful recovery as well as reducing the risk of another ACL injury. According to Arthritis Australia, those with a prior ACL injury are 35% more of having a second ACL tear during their lifetime. That is why it is important that you begin a customised rehabilitation plan with a physiotherapist immediately after the ACL surgery and that is where Progressive can help. 

At Progressive, our highly experienced team of physiotherapists have rehabilitated many athletes successfully after undergoing ACL surgery. Rehabilitation generally focuses on gaining and restoring the knee’s full motion as well as strength, endurance, balance and agility.  

Progressive Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy would love to help you on your road to recovery. For more information about our customised rehabilitation programs, please feel free to contact the practice today by calling (02) 4721 7798 or by emailing info@progressiverehab.com.au. 

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.