Your hammies may be the key to your ACL rehab
Did you know....
that when it comes to ACL injury prevention and rehab, the hamstrings play a vital role in your ability to return to sport?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important knee stabiliser, and injuries to it can be very bad for not only athletes but generally active people too.
Recent research, on the other hand, has shown that strong hamstrings can help a lot with many ACL woes. One study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2020) found that people with stronger hamstring muscles were much less likely to hurt their ACLs. The study looked at data from more than 2,000 athletes and found that those with stronger hamstrings were 40% less likely to hurt their ACL.
In 2019, the Journal of Athletic Training published the results of another study that showed people who had stronger hamstring muscles were able to get back to sports faster after ACL reconstruction surgery. The study looked at a group of athletes who had ACL reconstructive surgery. Those with stronger hamstring muscles before surgery were able to get back to sports on average two months earlier than those with weaker muscles. We don't fully understand how strong hamstring muscles protect the ACL. But it is thought that the hamstrings work against forces that can strain the ACL.
Additionally, SOME people may be able to return to sports after an ACL rupture without having surgery, especially if they have strong hamstring muscles. One study from 2017 that was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that people with a torn ACL who had strong hamstring muscles before the injury were able to keep playing sports at the same level as those who had surgery to fix the injury. The study followed a group of people with a torn ACL for two years and found that those who had strong hamstring muscles before the injury were able to play sports again and had knee function that was the same as those who had surgery.
It's important to keep in mind that this type of approach isn't right for everyone. You should talk to a doctor/surgeon/allied health professional to find out if this is the right choice for you. It's also important to know that every course of action has its own risks and it's vital that you make an informed decision about your rehabilitation process.
In general though, it seems that strong hamstrings may help protect the knee joint before and after ACL injuries. Their ability to get you back to playing the sport you love should not be underestimated.
Dr Dray (Osteo)