How to Reduce the Chance of ACL Tears Playing Softball

How to Reduce the Chance of ACL Tears Playing Softball

By Lauren Wolfe

What is the ACL?

The ACL, otherwise known as the anterior cruciate ligament, is one of four ligaments that allows for stability in the knee joint by connecting the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia).

How does one tear their ACL?

“ACL injuries are so common in softball due to the quick bursts of running, starting and stopping, and having an uneven terrain,” said Dr. Neil Roth, founder of New York Sports Medicine Institute. “In softball, there are many situations where a player is moving one direction, and it is necessary for them to suddenly stop and change direction.”

What are the symptoms of an ACL tear?

Symptoms of an injury to one’s ACL include hearing a popping sound when the injury occurs, swelling, and pain when applying pressure to the knee.

What are the treatment options for an ACL tear?

Treatment for ACL injuries depends on the severity of the injury and the activities required of the patient. Nonsurgical treatment may be recommended for a patient with a partial tear of the ACL, provided the ligament can provide substantial support for the knee. Nonsurgical treatment may include physical therapy and the use of a brace for certain activities.

Diagnosing ACL injuries may include the need of MRI to determine the severity of the injury. Surgical treatment for ACL injuries often involves replacing the torn ACL with a graft of tendon taken from elsewhere in the patient’s body. Rehabilitation following ACL surgery is crucial. The patient’s commitment to performing exercises and engaging in physical therapy plays an important role in the overall success of the surgical procedure.

Why are ACL tears so prevalent in softball?

The ACL injury can occur when a player makes a rapid lateral movement to get to a ball, and her cleats get caught in the dirt or turf. The injury can also result from a twisting motion. At the high school and college levels, softball is primarily a women’s sport, and according to a 2013 study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, ACL tears are three times more common in females than in males. Some reasons for this include the fact that typically women have a wider pelvis, a greater angle between the pelvis and the knee, and are relatively not as strong as men.

How can one decrease the chance of tearing their ACL?

Various exercises that focus on dexterity, balance, and strength, can help reduce the chance of injury to the ACL. It is imperative that all activities are done after a good warm-up and thorough stretching of the calf, quadriceps, inner thigh, and hips. Follow this warm-up with strengthening exercises such as lunges. Afterwards, focus on jumps and hops with soft landings, to improve speed and control. Finally, perform agilitiy drills that follow with a cool down. To learn more about developing a work-out routine designed specifically for your needs, contact Total Form Fitness White Plains, located within the NYSMI White Plains facility.

If you think you may have injured your ACL, call New York Sports Medicine for an appointment. NYSMI has two convenient locations:

White Plains office: 914-290-4370
New York office: 212-861-2300

Lauren Wolfe is a senior at Scarsdale High School. She is a four-year varsity soccer and softball player who is participating in a six-week internship at New York Sports Medicine Institute. She is interested in pursuing sports medicine at Colgate University in the fall.