ACL injuries are often talked about in contact sports, but ballet dancers are also at risk of a tear. Jumping is the most common mechanism of injury for a ballet dancer to tear their ACL. Max Dawe, of the Joffrey Ballet, learned this firsthand last summer. I had the pleasure of being Max’s Physical Therapist in the later stages of his rehab while Alyssa Hartley, PT, DPT, OCS worked with him during the first eight months. Recovering from an ACL reconstruction is a long and intense process focused on regaining strength, range of motion, neuromuscular control, and progression of agility and plyometrics tailored to specific sport demands. The general recommended timeline to return to sport is at least nine months due to the high risk of re-injury returning at the previously thought six months. I interviewed Max asking about his recovery process, and we are happy to share his experiences.
ACL injuries are one of the most impactful injuries in sports, often taking 9-12 months before an athlete can return to competition. Athletes who participate in change of direction sports such as soccer, basketball, and football tend to have the greatest risk of ACL injury.
Having an ACL reconstruction can throw a major wrench into your life. The surgery is complicated, and the rehab program can feel daunting. With a projected return to sport timeline hovering around 9 months to a year depending on your injury, it can feel like you are destined for a year of struggle.
This is a common concern before surgery, and a common fear in the first few weeks after surgery. Your knee is swollen, walking is a chore, and sometimes you even need to wear a big bulky brace. The good news is, with proper rehabilitation, you should be back to the gym in a much shorter timeframe.
Approximately over 250,000 people tear their ACL every year, with the most at-risk population being young female athletes.1 Despite being a common injury, every ACL reconstruction rehabilitation is different. Protocols depend on graft type, concomitant injuries like meniscus or MCL, and surgeon preference. For this reason, ACL protocols need to be a combination of both criteria-based and time-based. From a criteria-based perspective, physical therapists need to make sure athletes can get back to squatting, jumping, landing, cutting, and all other sport-related tasks with good mechanics to set them up for success as they return to sports. From a time-based perspective, physical therapists need to consider tissue healing time and appropriate tissue loading. Each athlete achieves their objective criteria at different times. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 24 months post op for athletes to get back to full participation, with a majority of athletes returning to sport between the 9- and 12-month mark.
There are 250,000 anterior cruciate ligament ruptures in the United States every year1. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. The ACL, along with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and lateral collateral ligament (LCL), play crucial roles in helping the knee function normally. When one or more of these ligaments is injured, daily activities such as going up and down stairs or walking across uneven terrain can become more challenging. Similarly, an injury to one or more knee ligament(s) can make running, cutting, or jumping difficult in sports. Not all ACL injuries are created equal, as some are more severe than others. Let’s take a look at how ACL injuries are classified.
“I sprained my hamstring!” “I didn’t break it. I fractured it.” “He had a bad ankle strain.” Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and most medical professionals cringe when we hear this at parties, in the media, or our clinic. The tactful among us do their best to resist the urge to correct, but let’s face it, we are only human.
“I don’t really have the words right now, definitely not the right ones at least,” this was the quote from Odell Beckham Jr. following his 2nd ACL tear during Superbowl LVI. Most people know that an ACL tear is a common knee injury that requires a long, tenacious recovery. Once an ACL is torn, the risk of re-tear or tearing the opposite side is 20-35% more likely4. The above statistic may be alarming and is why ACL reconstruction rehabilitation needs to be taken very seriously.
“Hold my coffee.” Don’t let these be your famous last words before getting injured. Winter sports are amazing to watch; skiers and snowboarders traveling at high velocities and defying gravity when launching off jumps the size of houses. Figure skaters effortlessly glide, edge, and spin. All activities have risks, but the variables involved in winter sports can be out of our control, unfamiliar, and have higher stakes than what we are used to. This blog will cover tips, strategies, and more to keep you on the slopes and rink and out of the emergency room this winter.