Injuries are a common fear that athletes will have to face whether they be professionals or amateurs, and athletes at Branham are no exception.
ACL is a phrase that is often thrown around by sports commentators, but is actually a quite serious condition.
ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is the ligament that runs diagonally in the middle of the knee and and prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur and provides rotational stability.
Causes of torn ACLs include changing directions rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, and direct collision and contact.
ACL tears are easily diagnosable through physical examination, and MRIs may be used to determine what type of tear has occurred.
Senior Matt Fernandez suffered from this injury twice his freshmen and sophomore year while he played football. “The first time I went to make a tackle and I planted my foot to cut one way, my knee cut out and that’s when I tore [my ACL]. The second time I was running down the sideline to make a tackle and this guy shoved me from behind and I planted and my foot gave out and tore the same ACL again.”
Sophomore Kendall Schwiebert also tore her right knee ACL, while playing varsity soccer. “I was going up against a Leigh player who had possession of the ball. Pretty quickly she stopped to turn the play and I turned with her and tore my ACL.”
After the injury occurred, Matt was benched for the rest of the season and was forced to begin physical therapy to strengthen his knee. “I had to do lots of cardio-running on a treadmill, riding the stationary bike, and ladder and cutting drills. I also have to ice it after every time I play sports.”
Kendall was not so lucky, as her injury resulted in her needing surgery.
Although physical therapy and, in severe cases, surgery can help strengthen the knee again, its mark lasts forever. Once an ACL is injured it can never heal due to its position in the knee. As a result of this injury, Matt no longer plays football, but continues to play baseball, for the fear that he might injure his knee again. “It’s always an annoying thing in the back of my head that prevents me from playing. I might return; I haven’t decided yet.”
Athletes can prevent injuries by stretching before, during, and after their activities and making sure that their hamstrings, quadriceps, and muscle-tendon units are flexible and can avoid shock.
These measures will hopefully allow them to continue playing their sport for as long as they choose, with keeping the negative physical effects at a minimum.