Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

Skiing is a very physically demanding sport and puts a lot of strain on the body. Inexperienced skiers are more likely to sustain injuries due to lack of technique and their tendency to fall over a lot more than accomplished skiers. The knees are the most common part of the body to get injured during skiing. The amount of knee injuries in skiing has risen by 45% over the last 15 years.

What is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is found in the knee. It joins the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shinbone) and its job is to maintain the stability of the knee.

What Causes the ACL to Become Torn?

The ACL can become torn when too much pressure it put on the knee and it is twisted too sharply. Skiing is very hard on the knees, especially for inexperienced skiers whose muscles are not developed enough to cope with the demands placed on them. The sport involves lots of twisting, turning and sudden changes in direction and the knees are particularly at risk when landing from a jump or falling badly. Female skiers seem to be more susceptible to this type of injury than male skiers.

What are the Symptoms of a Torn ACL?

If the ACL is damaged, a skier may feel a 'click' in the knee and it will be painful. The knee will become swollen and may feel unstable.

How Can You Prevent an ACL Injury?


There are lots of things you can do before the skiing season starts to condition your body and minimize the chances of getting injured. If you are a novice, it is advisable to take lessons to learn the correct technique. By learning how to position your body properly on the ski slope, you will put less pressure on the knee joints. Following a training programme to condition and strengthen the quadriceps (thigh muscles) and hamstrings will also help to reduce the risk of knee injury (squats are a very good exercise to do to achieve this).

On the Ski Slope

Make sure your muscles are warmed up properly before skiing, as this will make them more flexible and lessens the chances of them becoming damaged. Also, take it easy towards the end of the day, as you are more likely to sustain an injury when fatigue has set in. This is especially true for inexperienced skiers. You should ensure that your equipment fits properly and is in good working order. Badly fitting ski boots can put extra strain on your knees.

What Happens if You Get an ACL Injury?

You should stop skiing immediately if you get injured. Resting the knee and applying ice wrapped in a cloth to the knee will reduce pain and swelling. You should consult a doctor who will determine how bad the tear is and advise you on the most appropriate course of treatment. You may have to wear a knee brace, which will prevent the knee from suffering any further damage. Physiotherapy may also be necessary to restore the knee to its full strength. If the tear is particularly serious, it may require reconstructive surgery to repair the ligament. You probably won't be able to ski again for a year after sustaining a torn ACL.

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