There is one thing that all athletes fear. Tearing your anterior cruciate ligament, more commonly called the ACL. This is the one thing that can make an entire stadium go silent. It sends a wave of sorrow through the hearts of all sports fans regardless of what hatred or love they have for the player unfortunate enough to suffer through this. It is the leading cause of a downward career in all sports and is also the most tricky to return from.
The ACL is one of the most tested and important parts of the human body. Without it, walking would become damn near impossible. Without it, our legs would only be usable up to just before our knee. The ACL takes a lot of pressure in sports and it is very susceptible to injury because of the way our knees are designed. There is no bone or cartilage that protects our ACL, because otherwise we wouldn’t have the range of motion that we do. Every hard cut, twist of our leg, and jump is putting our ACL under stress which makes it easier to injure. This image shows that the ACL is unprotected and right in the front of the knee. It is also very small considering that it’s job is to hold the tibia and the knee together.
ACL injuries don’t usually end a career, but they definitely affect them. After tearing your ACL, most enter surgery almost immediately. Full rehab of the knee can take about 7-9 months. Not only is the rest of the season gone, but possibly your ability to take part in preparations for next season are done too. After you get back in the game, you are still not in game shape. It could take an extra month before that happens. That’s about 8-10 months of physical recovery!! You may never get close to being as fast or athletic as you used to be. But it doesn’t end there does it? Following an ACL tear, you instantly become more likely to hurt your knee over and over. Not because you aren’t taking the correct precautions, but because it damages your knee beyond the repair of anything doctors can do today. There is also the psychological effect that something like this has. Once you tear your ACL, you have a huge confidence drop in yourself and your knee’s ability. You now know that your body has limits that you have to watch and that you can’t do certain things that you used to be able to do.
This past Sunday, the world learnt that Rajon Rondo, All-Star point guard for the Boston Celtics, had torn his ACL. As a loud and proud Miami Heat fan, I swallowed my own breathe out of complete shock and sadness that another premier player had to suffer an ACL injury. This injury has put the careers of many players down the hole. Players like Tracy McGrady, and Greg Oden have never been able to get up to the expectations that they had before their injuries.
Not one man or woman can say that they were happy when they heard about the ACL tears of Derrick Rose, Adrian Peterson, the New England Patriots QB who shall not be named, Jerry Rice, Tiger Woods, Tomas Kopecky, or any of the others who have torn their ACL’s. It is a horrible thing to endure and it can be one of the lowlights of someone’s life.
But it is important to note that an ACL injury isn’t the end of your career. Many people have come back just as strong or even stronger after returning from this hell. Guys like Jamal Crawford, Kyle Lowry, and Michael Owen have put together incredible seasons after they returned. In fact, the majority of sports fans don’t even know that these guys actually did tear their ACLs (Proof: Did you know about their injuries before I told you?). A prime example of this being Adrian Peterson this season. An MVP season on its own regardless of what he has gone through. In my opinion there wasn’t another player who deserves this award as much as AP this year. On top of this, it was a comeback season following an ACL tear.
As a person who has suffered multiple knee injuries over the course of my (amateur) sports career, I am extremely thankful that I have never torn my ACL. This injury is the one injury that will always bring sadness to everyone’s hearts. Everyone knows what it can do and when it happens, you can see the pain and fear in the strongest of men.