ACL Tears - How Do We Prevent Them?

Updated: Oct 15

After 3 ACL reconstructions, 1 x PCL rupture and a knee arthroscope, you could say I know my fair share of information and experience about knee injuries. This devastating injury ruined my dreams of becoming a professional rugby player and once you do your first ACL, the amount of stories you hear from other players about their ACL tears is astronomical.

The AFLW's wretched run with ACL injuries has claimed two more victims recently, with Melbourne defenders Shae Sloane and Katherine Smith both set to miss the entire 2020 season. There were nine ACL injuries suffered by players across the competition's 10 clubs last year.

I was 22 when I did my first ACL, and I had never actually heard of the injury until this moment. It is crazy the number of stories you hear of other athletes tearing their ACL's and having their sporting dreams crushed. Fast forward 3 more years and I had ruptured my other ACL - twice! Which led to my retirement from the sport I love at the prime age of 26!

Fast forward another 7 years and here I am as an experienced Myotherapist and Personal Trainer, we are still hearing horror stories of top-level athletes being cut down on the field as their knees buckle from beneath them, and with the majority of the ruptures occurring from no contact at all.

It really gets me thinking and wondering how we are getting it SO wrong with the way we approach sport and what we are doing to reduce this risk of knee injuries.

As a 22-year-old, sat on the physio table after surgery, I had 100% trust in my physio as I knew no better and they were the professional. I spent hours and hours of contracting my quads and squeezing my hammy to build some strength around the knee.

Although this sounds like the right thing to do to strengthen my knee - after 10 years in the fitness industry and 5 years in the health industry, I now know that this approach to my rehab was not the most efficient.

Yes, I needed to gain some strength around the knee to build the best structure possible, but nine times out of ten, with knee injuries, it is not the knee's fault. The knee has to deal with having the middle child syndrome in that it's two older (upstream) and younger (downstream) siblings, being the hip and the foot are the main instigators in the mechanism of injuries.

If the hip (older sibling) does not have the necessary stability and mobility, it cannot help control the knee joint. We have a MASSIVE problem in our society today as the majority of us have a sedentary lifestyle and we spend most of our days sitting on our butts! We think that this is just a problem for adults but once you turn 5 years old, you are given a full-time desk job at school, spending a minimum of 6 hours sitting down, being told to sit still, sit up straight (yeh, right) and don't move. The moment a kid starts to fidget and not sit still, they are then diagnosed with ADHD!! The human body is designed to move and sitting still is the last thing a young kid wants to do!

We sit to eat, to drive, to work, to be entertained, to relax, to socialise.....sitting down has become the norm in our society and the ones who want to stand up are seen as the "weird" ones. The body is a magnificent piece of machinery and also very clever in that it will adapt to its most common positions and postures. A lot of people are now "strong" in a sitting position because this is where they spend their lives. Now this "strong" sitting position may help them sit at a desk all day long but once they head to the gym or go for a hike or pick up their kids, the brain is exploding with confusion and therefore sends all kinds of pain signals to muscle and joints because this is now not "normal" to the body.

The muscles around our hips, mainly the glutes, help keep us stood upright and strong. Imagine being sat on and squished into a hard chair all day long, and then being expected to sprint on the footy field or squat 100kg! Our glutes are there to create stability in the body, functi