Debunked: 8 Myths About ACL Injuries Women in Soccer Should Know

Sep 21, 2023

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup not only showcased the brilliance of women's soccer but also brought the spotlight to a persistent enigma—ACL injuries. Despite being a common affliction, particularly among female players, ACL injuries in soccer remain shrouded in myths and misconceptions. In this post, we aim to dispel eight of the most enduring ACL myths, providing players with the knowledge they need to stay on the pitch and perform at their best.


1. ACL injuries in soccer always happen with contact or collision

Fact: ACL injuries can also happen with non-contact mechanisms, such as landing from a jump, changing direction, or stopping suddenly. These movements can cause excessive stress on the ligament and cause it to tear.


2. You can prevent ACL injuries by wearing a brace or a sleeve

Fact: There is no evidence that wearing a brace or a sleeve can prevent ACL injuries. With that said, even though these devices cannot stop the forces that cause the ligament to rupture, they can reduce them. They work best when combined exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve balance, coordination, and agility.


3. You can heal an ACL injury with rest and ice

Fact: Rest and ice can help reduce the pain and swelling after an ACL injury, but they cannot heal the ligament itself. The ACL has poor blood supply and does not heal well on its own. Depending on the severity of the injury and the patient’s goals, surgery may be required to reconstruct the ligament using a graft from another tendon.


4. You can return to sports as soon as you feel better after an ACL injury

Fact: Returning to soccer too soon after an ACL injury can increase the risk of re-injury or damage to other structures in the knee, such as the cartilage or meniscus. It is recommended to follow a structured rehabilitation program that involves physical therapy, exercises, and functional tests before getting back on the pitch. The average time to return to sports after an ACL injury is six to nine months, but it may vary depending on the individual’s recovery and readiness.


5. You will never be able to play soccer again after an ACL injury

Fact: Many soccer players are able to return to their sport after an ACL injury, provided that they undergo proper treatment and rehabilitation . Some examples of soccer players who have successfully recovered from ACL injuries are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Virgil van Dijk, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe. However, some factors that may affect the return to soccer after an ACL injury are age, level of play, psychological factors, and re-injury risk.


6. You will always have pain or arthritis in your knee after an ACL injury

Fact: Pain or arthritis in the knee after an ACL injury is not inevitable, but it is possible. Some factors that may increase the risk of pain or arthritis in the knee after an ACL injury are weight, genetics, activity level, type of graft used for reconstruction, and presence of other injuries in the knee. 

To reduce the risk of knee pain or arthritis after an ACL injury, follow the treatment and rehabilitation plan prescribed by the doctor. Also, maintain a healthy weight, avoid excessive impact activities, and use appropriate footwear and equipment.


7. You can diagnose an ACL injury by yourself or with a simple test

Fact: Diagnosing an ACL injury by yourself or with a simple test is not reliable or accurate. Some common self-diagnostic assessments include the Lachman, the anterior drawer, and the pivot shift tests. However, these tests are not conclusive and may have false positives or false negatives. The best way to diagnose an ACL injury is to consult a doctor who can perform a physical examination and order imaging such as X-rays or MRI.


8. You can prevent ACL injuries in soccer by doing any kind of warm-up or exercise

Fact: Not all warm-ups or exercises are effective in preventing ACL injuries. Some warm-ups or exercises may even increase the risk of injury by causing fatigue, imbalance, or poor technique . The most effective warm-ups or exercises for preventing ACL injuries in soccer are those that target specific risk factors. They include exercises that build muscle strength, neuromuscular control, biomechanics, and proprioception. Some examples of evidence-based programs that have been shown to reduce ACL injuries are FIFA 11+ and PEP programs.

Shedding Truth on ACL Injuries in Soccer

Debunking these myths is important for soccer players who want to prevent, diagnose, treat, and recover from ACL injuries. It’s one of the most common and serious soccer injuries, and can have significant consequences for the players’ health and quality of life. 

Learning the facts about ACL injuries helps players make informed decisions about their prevention and management. They can also avoid unnecessary risks, complications, or delays in their recovery. 

By following the recommendations and guidelines from experts, soccer players can reduce the risk of ACL injuries and play the beautiful game with less worry.

Need more tips on how to reduce your risk of ACL injuries? Read our blog post “No More Tears: ACL Prevention for Women Soccer Players”. 

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