SOCCER AND YOUR BODY
Recent Findings on ACL Injuries in Soccer
By Roy Gillespie B.Sc. P.T., M.C.P.A., C.A.F.C.I - Pinnacle Sports Physiotherapy, Kelowna, BC
Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee is the injury the injury that causes the longest lasting disability to soccer players. The anterior cruciate ligament connects the tibia to the femur. It is located in the center of the knee and "crosses" the posterior cruciate ligament (i.e. cruciate = cross in Latin). The ACL prevents excessive rotation and hyperextension in the knee. An injury to the ACL leads to instability (a giving way feeling). A recent study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine sheds some light on the causes of ACL injuries. The study was done in Denmark last year.
The researchers, from a hospital clinic, surveyed 113 patients. All were admitted to the clinic with an ACL rupture. Their findings were as follows:
In summary, the mechanism behind ACL ruptures differs from that of other soccer related injuries because only a small fraction of the injured players had contact with another player at the time of the accident. The authors concluded that tackling and kicking do not contribute significantly to ACL ruptures in soccer. Secondly, 2 distinctive actions - change of direction and landing after heading - are responsible for the vast majority of ruptures. If players could be trained to perform these particular moves more safely, the risk of injury could be substantially reduced.