ACL injuries. We hear about them a lot, but here is an explanation of how they actually happen.
The knee is believed to be one of the most stable joints of the body because of its relative
size to other joints. The knee can withstand very large compressive forces, but shear and twisting
forces are not the knee joint’s best friends. The knee joints consists of three bones, the femur,
tibia, and patella, which form the patellofemoral (PFJ) and tibiofemoral joints (TFJ) protected by
the medial collateral ligament (MCL) from excessive medial movement of the knee, lateral
collateral ligament (LCL) from excessive lateral movement of the knee, anterior cruciate
ligament (ACL) from excessive anterior movement of the tibia in relation to the femur, and
posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) from excessive posterior movement of the tibia in relation to
the femur….. I bet you did not even read all of that.
The highest rates for ACL injuries in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
sports have been reported for football, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, men’s wrestling,
men’s lacrosse, and women’s basketball, in their respective order. Through the first 7 weeks of
this NFL season there were 40 ACL tears, last year totaling 48, and the year prior totaled 45.
And that’s just the beginning, let’s not get started on concussions (possible future topic) and
fractures that often end player’s careers. Because of biomechanical and anatomical differences
in males and females, females are at a higher risk for ACL injury occurrence. Why, you may
ask? Let’s get the most difficult explanation out of the way first. Q-angles. What? Q-angles, are
the angles between the quadriceps muscle and the patellar tendon.
The greater the q-angle the greater risk of injuring the ACL. Due to females having naturally
wider hips while having a narrow stance, their q-angles are greater than the q-angles in males.
The second (and “easier” to work with) reason for ACL injuries is the imbalance of quadriceps to
hamstring strength. The ACL prevents your shin from moving too far forward in relation to your
thigh bone. The quadriceps muscles (quads for short) attach in the front and just below the knee
and their main function is to extend the knee joint (kicking someone in the butt). The opposing
muscles, the hamstrings attach in the back/side of the knee and below the knee and their main
function is to flex the knee (kick yourself in the butt). If the quads are too strong and the
hamstrings are too weak, we are creating an imbalance, which can result in a ligament tear. If
you love working the quads, don’t forget to also train your hamstrings. If you are an athlete or an
active runner, you need to train hamstrings, do your yoga poses, warriors, downward-facing
dogs, and sun salutations, and do proper warm up before working out, especially if your
hamstrings have “always been really tight”. If you have already tried yoga and/or stretching and
your hamstrings still feel very tight and underactive, let us know, we can apply a piece of
RockTape to activate the hamstrings this way. If that does not work, we will scrape the
hamstrings with RockBlades. Trust us, they work. We have all the tools your hamstrings need,
so do not be afraid to ask for them!