Orthopedics

Acute Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention

Many athletic activities put the knee at risk for injury of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is in the center of the knee. The ACL provides stability to the entire leg, making it a very important ligament for sports performance. If you are an athlete with an injured ACL, and your goal is to continue with your sport, likely you will require surgical reconstruction and extensive rehabilitation.

The growing trend for athletes to train year round for their sport means that they use the same muscle group repetitively without conditioning and getting proper rest. As a result, more and more athletes, especially young athletes, are experiencing partial or complete ACL tears.

Fortunately, Mount Sinai surgeons are often able to use advanced minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery techniques to repair ACL injuries. This approach may allow you to return to daily activities within a week and start playing sports again within four to six months. We recommend following our prevention tips to avoid ACL injury.

ACL Injury Prevention Tips

To minimize the number of ACL injuries sustained by children, Mount Sinai has developed a conditioning program. The program involves high intensity speed and agility drills, cutting, running, jumping, and overall strength training. We advise that you follow these tips to help prevent ACL tears.

  • Always warm-up to get your blood circulating to support your muscles and joints before you start games, practices, or any physical activities.
  • Stretching not only helps warm-up your muscles, but it increases your flexibility, which decreases your risk of injury. Pay particular attention to areas that feel tight.
  • Strengthen your hips and thighs to provide support to your knees. Squats and lunges can help build strength in these areas, and it is important to use proper form.
  • Balance is a key to your avoiding injury. Many injuries occur when you are off-balance. Practice exercises that increase your agility and help you to jump and land safely.
  • Get enough rest. Getting adequate sleep, taking rest days, and alternating difficult workouts are important in decreasing your risk of injury. If you experience pain or sustain an injury, stop and seek medical attention.