The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is located behind the kneecap (patella) and connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). Stabilizing the knee joint is the primary responsibility of the ACL. Injuries that affect the ACL are three to five times more common in females than males. This is a result of anatomical, biomechanical, strength, and hormonal differences. The probability of potentially devastating tears to the ACL may be reduced in female athletes by an alternative warm-up program that focuses on muscle flexibility, strength, motor skill, and balance enhancement. Once the ACL has been torn, it becomes impossible to reattach or stitch the ligament back together. The blood supply in this area of the body is diminished and the tissue becomes nonviable. Reconstruction of the ACL involves attaching the ligament to another tendon from the hamstring, just below the knee. Although reconstruction and treatment of ACL injuries are available, much unnecessary pain, money, and time may be wasted during these procedures. It is important to be aware of the prevention methods available to reduce the possibility of potentially devastating tears to the ACL. These prevention methods include proper warm-up and avoiding activities that cause pain. Other preventive measures include incorporating balance exercises along with stretching and strengthening muscles near the ACL. Appropriate rest and recovery time are other important factors that may prevent ACL injuries. Quality footwear, strapping, or taping may provide an additional level of support to the knee joint and ACL.
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