Apex Sports Clinic

ACL Tears in Soccer Players: Understanding the Injury and Rehabilitation Process

Also known as football, Soccer is a game which requires speed, agility and precision. Performing intense physical activities in a fast flowing game makes injuries inevitable. The most typical pronounced injury in a football player is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). In this blog post, we will discuss “What is an A.C.L. tear?” How it happens and the rehabilitation process to get one back to their sport.


One of the important ligaments that stabilises the knee joint is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The tibia and femur are joined by this structure, which aids in knee stability, rotation, and forward and backward motion control. An ACL tear can happen when the ligament is overstretched, twists suddenly, or is struck forcefully on the knee.


The nature of soccer makes players especially susceptible to ACL injuries. Among the frequent reasons of ACL tears in soccer are:
– Sudden stops or direction changes: The knee joint may be strained by the rapid movements needed to surpass opponents.
– Pivoting: If the foot is planted firmly on the ground, pivoting on one leg may put excessive stress on the ACL.
– Jumping and landing: If you jump involuntarily or unbalanced to head the ball or defend, you run the risk of suffering an ACL injury.
-Direct contact: ACL tears can also result from falls or collisions with other players.


When a soccer player tears their ACL, they could feel like this:
At the time of the injury, if there was a loud “pop” sound in the knee, an immediate, intense pain, a swelling within a few hours, limited range of motion, difficulty bearing weight or instability in the knee, it could be an ACL tear.


An MRI scan and a physical examination are typically required to diagnose an ACL tear. The course of treatment for an ACL tear is determined by the severity of the damage, the player’s age and activity level, and their long-term objectives.


Non-surgical options might be sufficient for people with lower activity levels or partial tears of the ACL. In order to improve stability, physical therapy concentrates on strengthening the knee muscles, whereas bracing offers external support to lessen ligament stress.


Surgery is often necessary for those with complete ACL tears or those hoping to resume competitive sports. ACL reconstruction involves using a graft, usually from the patient’s own body or a donor’s, to replace the torn ligament. The importance of range of motion, muscle strengthening, and a gradual return to activity cannot be overestimated in post-operative rehabilitation. 

  1. ACL Reconstruction: A graft, frequently made from the patient’s own tissue (autograft) or a donor’s tissue (allograft), is used to replace the torn ACL.
  2. Arthroscopic Surgery: To perform the ACL reconstruction, a tiny camera and specialised instruments are inserted through tiny incisions during this minimally invasive procedure.
  3. Graft Options: For ACL reconstruction, surgeons may choose to use allografts from donors, bone-patellar tendon-bone (BTB) autografts, hamstring tendon autografts, or quadriceps tendon autografts.
  4. Lateral Tenodesis: A lateral tenodesis procedure may be used to treat both ligaments in cases of combined injury to the anterolateral ligament (ALL) and the ACL.
  5. Anatomical Reconstruction: To closely mimic the position and function of the native ACL within the knee joint, surgeons may choose to perform anatomical ACL reconstruction


Rehab is an essential component of recovery whether or not a soccer player has surgery. An organised rehabilitation program concentrates on:

– Restoring flexibility in movement: Mild exercises aid in the restoration of the knee’s range of motion.
– Strengthening the knee: To increase stability, resistance training works the muscles surrounding the knee.
Exercises that target the balance and proprioception of the injured knee help the body become more aware of and in control of it.
-Gradual return to sports: The player can gradually resume soccer-specific drills and practice as their knee strengthens.
A successful recovery from rehabilitation requires several months, therefore patience is essential. Playing again too soon carries the risk of reinjury.

Ultimately, while ACL tears can be a major setback for soccer players, players can recover and resume their favourite sport through understanding about the injury and adhering to a thorough rehabilitation plan. Soccer players can reduce their risk of ACL injuries and keep up their performance on the field with the right preventative techniques and cautious management.