ACL Injuries in Sport
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The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is a strong knee ligament. The ACL controls and limits forward movement of the tibia (shin bone), relative to the femur (thigh bone). It also helps to control rotational movements of the femur relative to the tibia.
ACL Knee braces and supportive sleeves can help stabilise the knee if the ACL is ruptured, recovering or repaired. There is a wide variety of braces that range from ACL braces that provide no support but good contact on the skin, which can help with movement awareness, to highly structured, long, hinged braces that are suitable to be used with a total rupture or following surgical repair.
As these braces provide additional support, many people find wearing an ACL brace for sports helpful. This is especially true for sports that place high stress on the ACL ligament. An ACL brace for return to sports can reduce the risk of re-injury, which is greater than with a non-injured knee.
Based on our extensive experience treating ACL ruptures and prescribing ACL Knee braces, we have curated a list of the best ACL Knee Braces in this article.
James McCormack is a Physical Therapist specialising in knee, foot & ankle injuries. www.james-mccormack.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. The money earned from this helps us create free educational content without affecting the price of the ACL Knee braces we recommend.
ACL knee surgery entails taking a graft, usually part of the hamstring tendon and anchoring it in the knee where the ACL once was. This graft site is vulnerable for an extended period after surgery and needs to be protected.
We recommend the Orthomen hinged ACL knee brace, which offers significant support to minimise stress to the ACL.
It is suitable for the initial phase after surgery when the muscles around the knee are not working effectively, and the knee is weak and poorly controlled.
Overall, this is a great knee brace for ACL surgery recovery.
When returning to sport after an ACL injury, a knee brace for ACL stability can offer physical support and help with confidence.
We recommend the Donjoy ACL knee brace, which is easy and quick to apply and offers high stability in 4 directions – limiting forward movement of the tibia on the femur, rotation, and preventing hyperextension.
It does this while being comfortable and flexible enough to allow you to play unencumbered.
This can also be a good ACL knee brace for wrestling and can be worn with a cover sleeve over the top to prevent it from catching.
Skiing is a challenging sport and puts a lot of stress on many parts of the body, especially the knees.
Forces applied when turning on skis can strain the ligaments of the knee. To some extent, this motion is out of your control due to factors like a collision or fall, which can further increase the risk of injury.
Knee injuries are prevalent with skiing, and about 50% of all knee injuries involve the ACL.
Therefore, wearing an ACL knee brace for skiing is one of the best ways to protect your knees while skiing.
We recommend the Bauerfeind Genu Train S for returning to ski after ACL repair as it is one of the most comfortable, lightweight and supportive ACL Knee Braces on the market.
Wearing an ACL knee brace is optional in most cases. After surgery, it may be more heavily recommended but is not always necessary. Ultimately, a knee brace can offer your knee support but cannot stop every injury from happening. A brace may offer physical restraint but also improve proprioception, making you more aware of your positioning and movements.
Braces should be worn appropriately. That is for an appropriate duration after injury or surgery and appropriate activities. Wearing a brace all the time can build a reliance on the brace, lead to weaker muscles around the joint, and reduce your confidence. Our bodies are well designed, and with the guidance of an experienced physical therapist, you should be able to rehabilitate after an injury to improve your body’s capacity to stabilise and control itself.
Most surgeons will require you to wear a brace following an ACL reconstruction for up to 6 weeks. In many cases, they will request that you wear it in a locked position to sleep in for up to 2 weeks. Whether this is required and for how long, should be guided by your surgeon and will depend on your specific injury and procedure.
The brace is usually to be taken off to wash and exercise. You should wear it as directed by your consultant; wearing it for too long can weaken the muscles around the knee and make you reliant on it.
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack before purchasing any ACL Knee Braces. James offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments weekly.