Which piste to take? “You have torn your ACL or you haven’t?”

ACL trail markers
Image from PaperCards.com

Have you caught yourself asking the same question? Have I just torn my ACL?

Following an ACL injury, for some people it takes months, if not years to regain the confidence and strength to perform in sport at the same level as pre-injury.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important stabilising ligament of the knee that is frequently injured, there are between 100,000 and 200,000 ACL ruptures per year in the United States alone. We treated over 40 ACL injuries in our Chamonix clinic during the 2013/2014 Winter season.

ACL injuries occur when an individual stops suddenly or plants his/her foot hard into the ground. ACL failure has also been linked to heavy or stiff-legged landing; the knee rotating while landing, especially when the knee is in an unnatural position. The combination of hearing a “pop” during a twisting movement or rapid deceleration, together with inability to continue participation, and followed by early swelling, is said to indicate a 90% probability of rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament. In any of these circumstances you should seek medical advice from a specialist such as a sports doctor or physiotherapist before continuing your sport.

If you’ve experienced this injury, you may have or have not had surgery. But rehabilitation is mandatory, not optional, it’s fatiguing and time-consuming but your healthcare professional understands and will impart the importance of recovering that range of motion and leg extension, as well as balance and strength in the journey to returning to full function. Rehabilitation is not only important for recovery but is also protection against future injury.

The SkiFit programme was designed with this in mind, written by a sports physiotherapist specialising in ACL recovery and prevention, these workouts form a ‘prehabilitation’ programme that hopefully prevents you from ever having to think about this question – Which piste to take? “You have torn your ACL or you haven’t”.

Jackie Maclean-Martin
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