The anterior cruciate ligament (aka: the ACL) is one of the primary ligaments of the knee. It’s primary function is stabilizing the knee, and since the knee is the largest joint in the body and it endures so much strain, a torn ACL is an extremely common injury.
A torn ACL can be extremely painful and weaken your mobility, and repairing the damage can require long and strenuous physical therapy glen head. The best way to treat a torn ACL is to prevent the injury from happening in the first place. How can you avoid tearing your ACL? Here are some simple and highly effective tips to exercise…
Always Warm Up. Always.
Whether you are running, lifting weights, hitting the elliptical or participating in a sport, always take the tie to warm up before you start. Warming up is crucial for preparing your entire body for physical activity, including your knees and your ACL. Skipping this crucial step will land you an appoint with a Bay Shore physical therapy.
The following warm up activities will warm up your ACL:
- Jog – Do some gentle jogging before you start your physical activity.
- Run backwards – Running backwards will loosen out the muscles in your calf, avoiding excessive strain on your ACL.
- Shuttle run – This side-to-side spring will help to prepare your knees for sudden turns and stops that can do damage to the ACL.
Stretch It Out
Make sure you stretch out your legs from your hips to your ankles before engaging in physical activity. You’ll stretch out, warm up and strengthen all of the muscles in your leg that are supported by the ACL.
Some simple stretches to avoid an ACL injury and a visit to the west islip physical therapy office include:
- Calf stretches
- Hamstring stretches
- Hip adductor stretches
- Quadriceps stretches
Doing two 30-second stretches of each of the above will prime the muscles and ligaments, including your ACL, and will prevent you from doing any damage to your ACL.
Strengthen Your Legs
When your legs are stronger, your knees are more stable. This means your ACL will be less prone to injury. Do the 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the following exercises to strengthen your legs:
- Heel raises – Standing with your arms out in front of you or out to your sides, bend one knee and slowly raise the heel of your opposite leg up so that you are standing on your toes. Do the same with the opposite leg.
- Walking lunges – Lunge forward so that one knee is bent down toward the ground in a kneeling position and the opposite knee is bent in front of you. Push off with the leg that is bent in front of you and lunge yourself forward with the knee that is kneeling. Repeat with the opposite leg. Continue doing the this action so that you are literally walking while lunging.
Treating an ACL Injury
Despite these exercises, there is still a chance that you could end up doing damage to your ACL. If you hear a loud popping sound or feel a popping sensation, you experience sudden and severe pain, or your knee is swollen and moving it has become difficult, there’s a good chance that you have damaged your ACL. Contact a physical therapist for a full assessment of your knee and to have an effective treatment plan devised. Before your appointment, make sure you exercise RICE: Rest the knee, Apply ice to it, apply Compression and Elevate the knee. Doing so will help to prevent additional injury, will alleviate pain and will make treatment easier.
If you think that you have damaged your ACL, contact our office as soon as possible. Our fully trained and licensed physical therapists will assess and diagnose your injury and will devise the most effective treatment plan for a rapid recovery.