2 Exercises to Prevent ACL Injuries

There are a total of four major ligaments in our knee whose function is to provide stability to the knee joint. One of the most important one is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). There are numerous fibrous bands attaching the ACL to the bones and that helps to keep motion in check and prevent excessive ones. It also prevents the lower leg from going into hyper extension. Due to the many types of forces experienced by the ACL, it is much easier to be injured compared to the other 3 ligaments. In this article, we will look at some exercises that can help to prevent ACL injuries.

ACL injuries are the most common knee injuries. Every year, many people tear or rupture their ACL due to various reasons, with the most common being sports. When the ACL is extended to beyond its maximum capability, it ruptures. Unlike bones that can heal on its own over time, ligaments do not heal on its own and once it is damaged, it will be permanently damaged and will require surgical means to aid in a full recovery. Situations where the ACL can be ruptured usually involve sudden directional changes or deceleration. In soccer, it can be as simple as a sudden change in direction to shield the ball from an opponent, with a hard twist while the studs of the boots are still firmly in the ground, causing the knee to twist and rupturing the ACL.

Lateral hops

Lateral hops simulate jumping and landing actions which are extremely common in almost every sport and is one of the major causes of ACL injuries. The body is designed in a way where the knee will cushion the impact from any jumps and hence it is important to “teach” our knee muscles how to properly absorb shocks. The main idea of lateral hops is to cultivate a good landing technique and thus it is important to land firmly on the ground without any shuffling actions.

Leg balance squats

Leg balance squats as the name suggests help to cultivate balance in the legs. It drives the legs forward and a quick switch to the other, creating a chain reaction. This way, the body can easily drive one leg to the side in order to work the hips and lower extremities to provide balance to the body when faced with any trauma, reducing the chances of an ACL injury.

Since our body is designed as a linkage system where every muscle group contributes to the control of the knee and the ligaments, a total body core muscle strengthening program should be put in place to help prevent ACL injuries.

4 Most Common Gymnastics Injuries

Gymnastics is a full body and physically demanding sport meant for all gender. Due to its stressful and challenging nature, risk of injuries are extremely high. Although most injuries are minor ones, some can be serious and life threatening! This risk is amplified when risky stunts are attempted. I will discuss some common Gymnastics injuries in this article.

Wrist sprains

The wrist is the most heavily used part of the body in Gymnastics. With the extreme twisting speed and jumps, the force acting on the wrist can be double of that of our body’s weight. Thus, the wrist is the most prone to injuries. Wrist sprains are common and the immediate response would be to terminate all activities and get plenty of rest. The intensity of training in future would need to be toned down as the wrist will be more prone to future sprains. To protect and offer better support, a wrist brace should be worn prior to any strenuous activities.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear

ACL injuries are common and can happen if the gymnast lands in an awkward position. The ACL supports the knee and provides stability. However, it can rupture if it is twisted suddenly under high forces and that exact force is provided by an improper landing position following a stunt. A “pop” sound will be heard and this is followed by knee swelling. To prevent ACL injuries, a supportive knee brace should be worn. In addition, gymnasts should strengthen their leg muscles to better hold and support the ligaments together.

Foot injuries

Foot injuries are another type of common gymnastics injury. The more frequently occurring one is ankle sprain. Minor foot injuries only suffer from slight swelling while more serious cases will lead to severe swelling and a limit in mobility.  Wearing a protective brace is often required after foot injuries but this can hinder the flexibility of the gymnast.

Back injuries

Injuries to the back can be either a muscle strain, ligament sprain or even spinal disc disorder. Back pain will intensify based on the activity engaged and extension motions will cause the pain to increase. Back injuries are often referred to physiotherapists but they can be more serious underlying. Serious back injuries that are not easy to detect is the spinal disc disorder. The spinal discs will cushion our spine from shocks and if it is injured, the protective capabilities will be compromised.

Gymnastics is a physically demanding and challenging sport activity that is filled with lots of injury risks. There are strict requirements for the gymnast and training often starts young. Unlike most sports, injuries in gymnastics are hard to prevent due to the lack of protective equipment that are flexible and concealable.

4 Steps To Reduce Risk of ACL Injury

There are 4 main ligaments in our knee which gives rise to the stability. The ligaments work together to prevent excessive motion to the knee joint and prevent over stretching which might lead to injuries. The most important ligament out of the 4 is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). However, ACL injuries are also the most common ligament injury and many teenagers have had ACL reconstruction performed on them. So what are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of ACL injury?

Before knowing how to reduce the risk of ACL injuries, you should understand how does the ACL tear. ACL tears occur due to a sudden twisting action, causing tremendous stress on the ligaments and ultimately rupturing the ACL. This is much more common in sports such as rugby, basketball and soccer which involves constant knee twisting and sudden changes in direction where the foot is still firmly rooted in the ground while the knee twists, instantly tearing the ACL.

Leg muscle strengthening

Leg muscle strengthening exercises will help to increase leg strength and lead to a more stable knee joint. A strong knee joint can help to resist sudden movement and hold the ligaments firmly in place during sudden twisting actions, reducing the risk of ACL injuries. Some excellent leg muscle strengthening exercises include hamstring curls, walking lunges and toe heel raises.

Neuromuscular training

Neuromuscular training is an excellent preventive method. It teaches the body how to obtain maximum knee stability and how the knee should move when jumping, pivoting and landing. Most injuries occur due to awkward landing on the knees, causing the ligament to twist and rupture. Scientific studies have also concluded that neuromuscular training significantly reduces the risk of ACL tears.

Knee bracing

If you have a weak knee or feel a little instability in the knee, you should use a knee brace. A good knee brace is able to make you feel like you are not wearing one, hold the knee ligaments firmly together and offer better support to the knee as a whole. There are some knee braces that are even allowed to be worn for games. Knee braces will offer better stability and provide you with more confidence.

Sufficient rest

Sufficient rest periods in-between training and games will allow the body ample of time for reconditioning and repair of the tissues. If you overstress your body, you are depriving it of repair time and sooner or later, the tissues and ligaments will break down. To speed up recovery process, some athletes consume foods that are high in protein such as chicken breast and protein shakes.

Reducing the risk of ACL injuries is as easy as 1-2-3. You only need to make a little bit of effort to buff up the muscles and don protective and supportive gears when you are playing your favourite sport.

Top 4 Most Injury Prone Activities for Youths

The period of youth is perhaps the most important part of our lives. Our body starts to mature and we have much more energy than before. We are also more motivated and have a higher desire to try new things, especially athletic activities. However, it is also during our youth that we suffer most injuries and due to that, many of us are unable to participate in competitive sports in the future. There are some activities which are especially prone to injuries and let’s take a look at some of them in this article.

Basketball

Basketball is a competitive high impact activity that is extremely popular with people of all ages. However, a large number of youth requires emergency response because of playing hoops. Common injuries associated with basketball include tears of the anterior cruciate ligament, responsible for the stabilisation of the knee. Being a high impact sport, basketball requires frequent sudden changes in direction and the ACL can tear if the foot is still fixed in a direction and the knee moves in another, causing the ligament to tear.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding is classified as an extreme sports and it is not termed like that for no reason. Skateboarding is an extremely dangerous sport that involves frequent falls from different heights on different parts of the body. Although protective gears such as skate shoes, helmets, knee and elbow padding are strongly recommended, many skateboarders ignore those as they find it not so cool.

Cheerleading

Cheerleading is a popular sporting activity that involves a lot of tossing, flips and catching. All of these motion uses the arms heavily and this is very taxing on the joints and shoulder blade. As such, the risk of injury is very high. An incorrect flipping technique can potentially cause further injury to the spinal cord.

Rugby

Rugby is an intensive and exciting full contact sport that is one of the most dangerous activity out there. Shoulder charging, take downs and sudden twisting actions are common throughout the game. Also, studs on the rugby boots are much longer and thicker than soccer boots in order to provide better grip. However, these studs can sink deep into the mud and during sudden twisting actions will cause the foot to be firmly planted in the ground while the knee changes directions, tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Discussed above are 4 most injury prone activities for youth. In fact, most activities out there carries a certain risk to them but these risk can be mitigated by wearing protective equipment which aims to prevent injury but this is not foolproof. Injuries are inevitable at some point in time but which the correct preventive measures in place, the risk is significantly lowered.

 

4 Common Injuries Incurred From Rugby

Rugby is a high impact and physically demanding sport that has a high risk of injuries due to its high contact nature. Being a competitive sport, it places a high emphasis on the physical attributes of the player and thus the increase in orthopaedic injuries. There are some parts of the body that is at a higher risk namely the head, shoulders and knees. Most injuries occurs during competitive matches especially during the tackling phase. Let’s take a look at some of the common injuries incurred from rugby.

Hamstring injuries

Due to the competitive nature of rugby, players need to be extremely fit and in order to achieve that goal, frequent work out and training sessions are conducted. This will lead to an increase in muscle overuse and increase the chances of limb injuries such as hamstring strains. Also, numerous sprinting activities are required throughout the match and sudden changes in direction will also occur. This will cause the hamstring muscles to be stretched beyond its intended limits and cause tears in the hamstring which are medically known as hamstring strains.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four major ligaments in the knee and it is responsible any movements in the knee joint and stability. During rugby, sudden changes in direction at high speeds will often occur and if the knee is still firmly stuck to the ground and a direction change is initiated, it will cause the ACL to snap. Moreover, the ACL is part of the terrible triad in the knee that consists of the ACL, MCL and meniscus. Very often during an ACL tear, the MCL and meniscus will be torn as well.

Head injuries

Rugby players are at a high risk of head injuries ranging from superficial cuts and grazes to serious lacerations. Although a protective headgear is compulsory during a rugby match, many players break their nose or suffer from concussion during high speed tackles. The protective headgear is effective against superficial injuries but it cannot really help much in serious injuries.

Sprained ankle

Ankle sprains are commonly sporting injuries suffered by many rugby players. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments surrounding the ankles are torn due to a sudden twisting motion by the ankle. Ligament tears will cause internal bleeding and this will lead to a swollen ankle after a few hours and it is extremely painful and causes mobility issues.

Rugby is a high contact and high impact sport that carries a certain risk of injury to it. Although there are protective gears that players must wear during the match, they are often effective only against superficial injuries.

What Should You Know About PCL Ligament Injury?

Our knee is probably the most overused part of our body. We use it every single day without fail and this increases the risk of injury. It is also one of the most flexible parts of our body with the other being our shoulder. To increase the flexibility of a joint, certain functions and strength will have to decrease, making it more prone to injuries. However, there are 4 different knee ligaments that help to stabilise the knee, namely the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament. We will be focusing on the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in this article. Injuries to the PCL are not as common as injuries to the ACL. This is largely due to the higher tensile strength of the PCL as compared to the ACL. The main role of the PCL is to prevent posterior translation of the tibia on the femur. It also helps to provide rotation stability and axis control functions to the knee. Due to its less common nature, injuries to the PCL are usually not managed properly and thus, lead to poor clinical outcomes. Injuries to the PCL are often accompanied by injuries to the surrounding tissues. There are 3 different grades for PCL injuries and they range from grade 1 to grade 3 depending on the severity.

A grade 1 sprain is minor and the ligament is only slightly injured. There are not many complications involved and the ligament is still able to fully perform its stabilising function. A grade 2 injury is a partial tear of the PCL and this will cause the ligament to become loose. A grade 3 injury is a complete tear to the PCL which renders the knee joint unstable. Some PCL injuries can heal on their own and most patients are able to return to pre-injury lifestyles without much adjustments needed.

Injuries to the PCL commonly occur due to a sudden traumatic impact to the front of the knee, causing the PCL to rupture. A sudden twisting action can also cause the PCL to be stretched out of its means and rupture. A grade 3 PCL injury will require surgical treatment to regain full knee stability. Since the ligament is unable to be regenerated, a graft will be required and this is often taken from the hamstring. For grade 1 or 2 PCL injuries, surgical treatments may not be required and immobilisation for a certain period will often be sufficient. However, the patient will need to undergo physiotherapy to build up surrounding muscles and strengthen them to allow them to help shoulder some of the loads.

Recovery from PCL injuries are often lengthy and frustrating for patients, especially those actively involved in sports. However, the recovery period cannot be rushed through or more serious complications may occur.

Physiotherapy VS Orthopaedic Surgery

Whenever someone suffers an injury to his musculoskeletal system such as muscle strains, sprains, ligament tears, broken bones or dislocations, he will have to make some difficult decisions on whether to go for physiotherapy or undergo orthopaedic surgery. For example in the case of an Anterior Cruciate tear, the patient will need to ask himself whether he still intends to continue with the sports in future or he will stop playing it forever. Often if he decides not to continue with the sports in future, he will not need to undergo surgery and physiotherapy is sufficient. If he still wishes to get back to his sporting lifestyle, an orthopaedic surgery is definitely required. Most surgeon will recommend patients to go for the fastest option available – surgery. They believe that a quick response will prevent any possible long term complications such as osteoarthritis or damages to the meniscus. Some however will recommend physiotherapy to allow patients to be able to stand on their own and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy aims to help free patients from any pain that he is currently experiencing and prevents them from coming back again, allowing patients to lead a better quality lifestyle. Through physiotherapy, patients are able to build up their muscle strength and endurance, restore their range of motion and improve their hand and feet coordination, decrease any pain and reduce the swelling and inflammation of joints. Physiotherapy is effective in helping heal any injured joints and muscles. However, they must be conducted under the guide of a professional therapist.

Orthopaedic Surgery

However, when tissues and muscles are injured to an extent where physiotherapy is no longer effective and the injured areas must be stitched back together, orthopaedic surgery is required. In the case of a serious fracture, surgery is also required to allow proper healing. Physiotherapy can help to strengthen the muscles, tendons and tissues surrounding the injury so that they can support and help compensate for the injured part. The chances of someone suffering the same injury is higher if surgery is not performed. As such, most surgeon will tell patients to undergo surgery if they really wish to participate in the sports in future.

Depending on the extent of the injury, certain treatment is more effective as each has its own pros and cons. For example, physiotherapy can help in muscle strains and sprains. Orthopaedic surgery is required for a complete ACL or meniscus tear. Surgery is often the last thing on a doctor’s mind and he will recommend for physiotherapy to see if it helps.

Am I Able to Gain my Balance Back, after a Ligament surgery?

Question:

I tore my anterior cruciate ligament(ACL) playing basketball, and I’m having surgery to reconstruct the ligament. Can I expect to get my balance back?

Answer:

The outlook is good. Researchers recently observed patients who had ACL surgery followed by five weeks of wearing either a cast or a brace. Patients also had six to eight months of therapy to get their agility and strength back. Three years after surgery, these patients did as well on tests of balance as people who didn’t have ACL problems. Patients who had ACL surgery had slightly slower reaction times, but in general their balance was just as good.

Ask your doctor or physical therapist about ways to manage your knee after surgery to ensure a full recovery.