Common Injuries: ACL Tears
Have you seen this video!? 👀😔
As March Madness quickly approaches, this injury may have already busted your bracket if you had Baylor going deep into the tournament. Jonathan Tchatchoua, number 23 for the Baylor Bucks, suffered a gruesome noncontact left knee injury during their game against the Texas Longhorns on February 12th. Although the specifics of the injury and resultant surgery are hard to find we speculate that the ACL, PCL and MCL may have been involved.
Today we are going to jump into ACL tears, the rehab process, the prevention and the potential future for “Everyday Jon” and possibly even you if you’ve been one of the many athletes that have dealt with an ACL tear.
But first, shoutout to Jonathan Tchatchoua and the Baylor Bucks. We wish him a speedy and strong recovery. Injury in sports is never something that you want to see. This, and the many injuries like it, gives us the opportunity to educate and inform and hopefully gives you introductory knowledge and the power to move forward with confidence after an ACL injury.
A Look Inside
First let’s talk about what the ACL (the Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is and what it’s supposed to do. Three bones come together to form the knee joint. Your thigh bone (the femur), your shinbone (the tibia) and your kneecap (the patella).
Ligaments connect bones to one another and create stability at that joint. In your knee there are 4 main ligaments that help hold things together and create the stability needed for activity. The ACL is one of these primary ligaments and helps to connect your femur to your tibia. It sits in the knee diagonally, allowing it to resist both forward sliding and rotation of the tibia.
ACL injuries are usually non-contact and occur most often when landing after a jump, or when pivoting or cutting. Why? The 3 main positions that will commonly lead to injury of the ACL include a low flexion angle of the knee (high stress is placed on the ACL during the first 30 degrees of knee bending), knee joint rotation, and valgus collapse. Paired with other factors, these positions can place the ACL at risk of injury or rupture. ACL injuries are very common among athletes and 76% of ACL injuries result in surgery.
Injury Rehab Process
The rehab process post ACL reconstruction like many things has morphed and changed over the years from rigid protocols that emphasize time-based progressions to more flexible criteria-based guidelines. The current research promotes the use of milestones to indicate readiness for progression and also shows the average player takes 6-12 months to return to their sport.
The main focuses of rehab are:
Immediate weight bearing
Range of motion
Early return to functional activities and sport.
Exercises should include both weight bearing and non weight bearing exercises and focus on both strength and coordinated movement.
Within the domain of strength, it’s crucial to strengthen the quadriceps effectively during the rehab process due to its key role in dynamic stability at the knee. Also, quad weakness and the loss of full knee extension usually result in decreased function after surgery.
Another main focus needs to be building dynamic stability of the knee. Meaning you need to make sure you’re working on movements that build your single leg balance and ability to react to a changing environment.
ACL injury prevention is a hot topic in the sports world right now. What has been found is that programs that included strengthening and proximal control exercises reduced injury risk by 68%. According to recent findings, prevention programs should:
Incorporate multiplanar components
Include both unilateral and bilateral activities
Incorporate unanticipated or reaction type movements
Emphasize correct foot positions and muscle coordination during cutting and dynamic movements
Consider the implications of playing surface, fatigue and prophylactic bracing
The future looks bright for Jonathan Tchatchoua, and for you too, if you’re an individual who has suffered an ACL tear. Although the recovery process is a long one, one study found that 98% of NBA players returned to play the following season following an ACL reconstruction.
In another study on NCAA they found that 88% of athletes were able to return to play the following year after an ACL reconstruction. Many studies have shown that not only are athletes able to return to their sport but are able to return at the same level of performance as they had pre-injury.
Have you heard of Tom Brady?
He suffered an ACL tear in 2008, had surgery and… well I’m sure you know the rest of the story. 🐐🏆
What about Jamal Crawford? He injured his ACL his second season in the NBA and has gone on to play 12 seasons of injury free basketball.
Alex Morgan who tore her ACL in high school and went on to win the world cup and is also the newest addition to a short list of stellar athletes represented on the cover of FIFA.
An ACL tear is not always a career ending injury. A major component of recovery potential has to do with mindset and work ethic. Jonathan Tchatchoua should be back next season, but for now he’s got to put in the work off the court.
What about you? Have you suffered an ACL tear and are on the fence about surgery or aren’t sure how to get back to your pre-injury level of performance? Hit us up! We’d love to be a part of your journey back to greatness.