It’s the worst experience a professional athlete can go through on the field. Their knee buckling under them and an audible “pop” sound coming from the area.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is the major piece of tissue providing stability to the knee joint. When it tears it’s hard for someone to walk let alone sprint, jump, land and change direction.
Similarly, ankle injuries are incredibly common in athletes and can keep them out anywhere from one week to six months.
For physiotherapist Mick Hughes, his job is to get his athletes back to full function and fitness.
In years gone by the default treatment for an ACL injury was surgery and then waiting nine months for it to repair.
Nowadays Hughes says, they can assess the extent of the injury and rehabilitate the injury by strengthening the muscles around the knee and working with the athlete to return them to play without surgery.
Interestingly, an athlete simply collapsing is the most common cause of ACL injuries from amateur leagues to the professional levels. It can occur from an awkward landing or their foot getting stuck in the ground as they pivot.
Ankle injuries, much like ACLs, mostly occur from non-contact situations. The majority of ankle injuries occur from the ankle rolling inwards and the three ligaments on the outside being injured.
Recovery times can vary with the most severe often involving the tearing of the ligament fibres as well as bone bruising and cartilage damage.
Hughes explains throughout this podcast ways these common yet devastating injuries can be prevented and treated if they do occur.
Even for amateur-level athletes the focus is no longer simply on the passing of time for the injury to repair. It’s now about ensuring the athlete has the same function and performance in the joint they had before the injury and, in some cases, stronger surrounding muscles in order to provide more stability.
Mick has previously worked with A-League clubs, NRL teams and netball clubs.
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