You’re sparring in the ring or cage, just moving round, and you quickly change direction to create an angle on your opponent. That’s when you feel a sudden and severe pain from your knee. Or you’re in a fight and your opponent lands a heavy leg kick against the side of your knee, and the pain sends you down to the canvas. Unfortunately you’ve just found out what it’s like to tear your ACL.
What is an ACL tear?
Your ACL (or Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is one of a number of ligaments in your knee that help to support the joint and keep it in position. Tears occur when these structures are damaged, and can range from mild sprains to complete severance.
What causes the injury?
The most common form of ACL injury, seen in footballers and basketball players, occurs when someone changes direction suddenly at speed. This translates to striking sports when a fighter suddenly changes direction to launch an attack or create an angle. Another common method of ACL injury is impact, such as being kicked in the knee – sound familiar? Add in the use of kneebars in grappling and MMA and ligament injuries get more and more common.
Can I train through it or do I need to rest?
You’re definitely going to need to rest. Depending on the severity you’re going to have to take time away from sport specific training and focus on strengthening your knee. If it’s more severe you can be looking at 9 months to a year before you return to sport.
Do I need to see my doctor?
You’ll need to see your doctor to have an MRI and determine how severe the tear is. Obviously if you have to go the surgical route your doctor will be the one organising it. Both surgical and non-surgical routes will require physiotherapy input to rebuild the strength in your knee and get you to return to sport.
What treatments are there?
Mild tears can be treated by physiotherapy input to build the strength up while the tendon heals itself. If the tear is really bad you’ll most likely require ACL reconstruction surgery, which is a pretty significant operation with lengthy recovery times.
How do I prevent the injury reoccurring?
The best way to avoid injury is to warm up and cool down sufficiently. Make sure you focus on strengthening your knees and develop the stability required to avoid injury.
Disclaimer: Please note that the team at Fight Quality have researched the causes and treatments of this injury but this advice is not given by a qualified healthcare professional. If you are ever in doubt about the seriousness of an injury you should consult with a doctor or physiotherapist as they can do a full assessment of you as an individual and then refer you for further treatment if needed.