ACL injuries have affected the field of professional sports forever. The injury has plagued many professional teams and players, costing millions of dollars and months of lost time. But what was once a mystery to many is now a culprit caught in the spotlight. We know more now about it than we once did.
How big is the ACL problem? Consider this: The years 2013 to 2016 alone saw a total of 202 ACL injured players in the NFL. That’s more than one new injured player a week. ACL-injured players in the NFL also earn $2,070,521 less within the four years after returning to sports from their injury. ACL injury treatment can be very costly for both teams and players.
The First Step To Prevention Is Determining ACL Injury Causes
ACL injury is a problem for sports professionals and teams wish they didn’t have to deal with. The good news is that we can address many of the risk factors relating to ACL injury. The first step is to determine all the major factors relating to ACL injury causes.
Then comes the managing of these factors through evidence-based interventions, monitoring and planning. This article provides a broad overview of these factors that will lead to a more thorough discussion. So here is a summary of the three major factors relating to ACL Injury causes:
1. Movement Control
The first factor is reduced movement control. Determining specific movement directions linked to ACL injury and then maximising control is essential for reducing risk. Valgus knee motion commonly occurs with ACL injury and can be caused by reduced movement control in various body regions. The valgus knee motion is sometimes necessary. However, when reduced movement control is apparent, the knee can be forcefully placed in the valgus position, injuring the ACL. This occurs when the knee moves inside the foot and under the body, often during tasks such as landing from a jump or cutting to change direction.
High speed situations are also provocative, especially when the play transitions. The player’s eyes might be tracking the ball one way while trying to move the body in the opposite direction. Then suddenly the valgus knee event occurs.
Visual dissociation drills and optimizing the movement coordination and strength of the knees, hips and trunk are part of the basics when trying to avoid a poorly controlled valgus knee motion. If you want to learn more about training this type of movement control, you can always reach out to me for more information on one of my courses.
2. Energy Factors
Another major factor for the cause of ACL Injury is a player’s depleted energy levels. A fatigued state can affect movement control and reaction capabilities. This often leads to increased susceptibility to a poorly controlled valgus knee motion.
There is high value on sleep, nutrition and hydration. Players and their teams need to ensure these basics are taken care of. These are the most impactful strategies for refueling energy and repairing the body.
Other factors that affect a player’s energy consumption and recovery include the player’s lifestyle, stress levels and even emotional well-being. Consider that all these can affect the quality of rest and recovery when trying to avoid injury. Monitoring some of these key areas mentioned can be a useful way to detect an energy drop to assist in reducing ACL injury risk.
3. Training Load Management
The last major factor is the management of a player’s training and playing load. Excessive overload can reduce energy and increase fatigue. Optimal control of motion depends on his or her energy levels. Fatigue from excessive overload reduces a player’s ability to control the forces to the knee. Hence, the knee becomes more susceptible to injury.
Training load management is crucial to avoiding fatigue and keeping good energy levels. Proper training periodization and monitoring is the key to avoiding excess overload. This is a huge factor in ACL Injury causes and a collaborative approach is required with head coaches, medical and fitness staff to ensure players are loaded appropriately.
When the relevant factors are being tracked, it’s a whole lot easier to avoid the unnecessary stressors to the ACL. As the saying goes - you can’t manage what you don’t measure!