Ligaments help to protect our joints. Unlike muscles, they do not contract or expand. Instead, they offer passive support and limit the range of movement in a joint. Unfortunately, if the joint is forced beyond the normal range of motion, ligaments can be torn, often resulting in surgery and time away from activity. Common ligament injuries that you may have heard of include ACL tear (anterior cruciate ligament tear), MCL tear (medial collateral ligament tear) or tearing of the anterior talofibular ligament (ankle sprain).
ACL – anterior cruciate ligament
The anterior cruciate ligament is located in the knee and prevents the tibia (shin bone) from sliding forward on the femur (thigh bone). Injury to this ligament is common in sports that require rapid deceleration, landing or pivoting (like soccer or basketball).
Knee Injury Prevention
One way to help protect ligaments and passive joint structures is to simultaneously contract the surrounding muscles. This helps to stiffen the area and prevent excessive movement beyond the normal range of motion, thus preventing a joint sprain. A study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine found that those athletes who changed direction in an upright posture had less co-contraction of the muscles around the knee. Due to this, the joint was less protected. In comparison, those athletes who changed direction with a deeper bend in the knee showed a greater level of muscular contraction in the quadriceps and hamstring. This offered more protection to the ligaments and the joint.
Knee Ligament and Movement
Although it is commonly understood that adopting a low, athletic position during sports will have a positive impact on performance, it also helps to prevent injury. It is important that young athletes are encouraged to change direction with a deep bend in the knee so that the chances of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament are lessened. Rehabilitation for anterior cruciate ligament tears can be quite extensive and can be a long process, so any effort at prevention is worth it.
Treatment for ACL Injury
The treatment for an ACL injury really depends on the stage of the injury and the level of function in the patient. For some, rehabilitative exercise with our physiotherapist is indicated right away. For newer, more significant injuries (or after surgery to repair an ACL) the treatment begins with gentle physiotherapy treatment and laser therapy. From there, the knee is “re-built” to its former strength and integrity. Looking for a physiotherapist for your knee injury? Give us a call at 905.220.7858 or email our clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org
Myer GD, Ford KR, Paterno MV, Nick TG, Hewett TE. The effects of generalized joint laxity on risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury in young female athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 36(6): 1073 – 1080.
Gilchrist J, Mandelbaum B, Melancon H et al. A randomized controlled trial to prevent noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injury in female collegiate soccer players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2008: 36(8); 1476-1483.