ACL Injuries: Am I at Risk?

Not only is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a knee one of the most common sports injuries, it’s one of the most dreaded, and for good reason: Recovering from that injury can keep you on the bench for an entire season.

Don’t be another sports injury statistic. The team here at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists wants to keep you in the game by sharing some practical information on ACL injuries and how you can protect yourself and your knee.

ACL injuries 101

The ACL is a key ligament that stabilizes the knee joint. Cruciate ligaments control your ability to move your knee back and forth. The ACL runs through the knee, keeping the tibia in place so it doesn’t slide out in front of the femur.

An injury of this ligament is commonly seen in sports like soccer, basketball and football. If you injure your ACL, it’s typical to hear a popping noise. Your knee may give out from under you. Then comes significant pain and swelling.

An ACL injury usually ends an athlete’s season because it requires months of rehabilitation, typically 3-6 months, and it can take a few more months to get back to your pre-injury condition. If your ACL is significantly or completely torn, you may require surgery.

Know your risk factors so you can prevent ACL injuries and protect yourself while playing sports.

A sudden deceleration or stopping

When you think of ACL injuries, contact sports might come to mind first. However, roughly 70% of ACL injuries aren’t the result of contact. Landing on one leg, pivoting, and suddenly slowing down or stopping when you’re in motion are some of the most common causes of ACL injuries.

Sports that require agility, like football, soccer, tennis, basketball, and lacrosse, involve this type of movement. Participating in these sports puts you most at risk for injuring your ACL.


Females are 4-6 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury than males. In fact, female athletes who participate year-round in sports that require agility are at significant risk of ACL injuries. A preventive sports therapy program can be of significant benefit if you’re in this category.

Previously torn ACL

Unfortunately, if you’ve lived through the pain and long rehabilitation of one ACL injury, you’re no less immune to it happening again. In fact, it’s the opposite: Having a previous ACL injury increases your risk of reinjury by roughly 15%.

High BMI

While participating in certain sports brings higher numbers of ACL injuries, non-athletes are at risk of that injury as well. Having a high body mass index (BMI) is a risk factor for ACL injuries for one simple reason.

Carrying excess weight affects the function of the anterior cruciate ligament and has a negative impact on knee strength. Too much weight combined with weak knee strength paves the way for injury to occur.

Barrington Orthopedic Specialists offers an ACL Injury Prevention Program

The ACL Injury Prevention Program is a one-on-one assessment instructed by a physical therapist with years of experience rehabilitating sports medicine injuries.  Participants will be instructed in an exercise program focused on strength, flexibility, squatting mechanics, jumping and landing mechanics, and agility. Appointments are available at the Schaumburg location.  Please call 847 885-0078 to schedule an appointment.

Barrington Orthopedic Specialists offers the highest quality in orthopedic care. Our Sports Medicine physicians are Dr. Sean Jereb and Dr. Jason Rotstein. To schedule an appointment please call 847 285-4200 or book your request conveniently online.