Everyone knows that ACL injuries plague women’s basketball (and soccer and volleyball). Fortunately, the surgeries and rehab from an ACL injury are improving:
Surgery and intense rehab followed both injuries, though U.S. Soccer player Christine Rapinoe admits she rushed and may have come back too quickly after the first ACL tear.
“The medicine is becoming so advanced that you feel really good after three or four months,” she says. “But the reality, at least for me, is that the ligament takes a certain amount of time to heal and doesn’t go any faster.”
Ten months, in Rapinoe’s case.
Often, players rehab the injury, but do nothing to prevent a future injury. Once you have had an ACL injury, you are more susceptible to a future injury. One reason, I believe, is that players do not correct any underlying biomechanical or strength issues which may have contributed to the initial injury. I see girls “rehabbing” by pedaling slowly on exercise bikes, while failing to learn to reduce force properly or improving their balance.
During her second rehab stint, Rapinoe says, she concentrated on making her body more structurally sound, including tweaking her body mechanics so she wouldn’t land with her knees so straight.
“It’s important to teach young girls the proper way to jump and land, because a lot of the (ACL) injuries happen in that phase,” she says. “They call it ‘prehab,’ and it’s important. But I don’t think women need to be paranoically aware. You don’t really think about it unless it happens to you.”
Of course, few coaches take the time to teach these skills because they do not translate directly to more wins, so players must take the time on their own to learn the proper way to squat, land, jump, stop, decelerate and change directions. By learning to move correctly and improving strength deficiencies (especially the hamstring to quadriceps ratio and core strength), players can be proactive in trying to prevent an injury rather than waiting for it to happen to them and facing the 10 months of rehab.