As we are now learning to adapt to life alongside COVID and slowly returning to normal lives, athletes across the globe are eager to return to the arena. However, questions are being raised by professionals as to whether the prolonged break in training regimes could result in an increase in the occurrence of immobilising injuries – particularly anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.
A primary concern raised by professionals is that the break-in practice could lead to a higher rate of injury, re-injury, and time loss as a result of delayed and potentially compressed workload and gameplay as events resume.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
An ACL injury is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament which is one of the strong bands of tissue that helps to connect your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). Most ACL injuries occur during sports after a sudden stop or change in direction along with jumping and landing and are very common in sports such as football and basketball.
After surgery, it is unlikely that an athlete would return to play for at least nine months – which is a significant chunk of an athlete’s career. And re-tear rates are as likely as 20%. Although strengthening muscles around the knee, as well as balance exercises, can go a long way to reduce the risk of this happening.
Prolonged Breaks In Athletic Performance
The break forced by COVID is likely to have resulted in the deconditioning of important physical qualities associated with performance, as well as reductions in competitive match fitness and sport-specific skills.
The physical and psychological impact of competitive environments can also add an extra level of pressure, especially for athletes who have not been in these situations for a prolonged period of time.
Along with the increased risks of playing sport in a world still adapting to COVID, such as play that meets social distancing requirements, there are also concerns that this extra pressure could be detrimental to athletes’ ongoing mental health and ability to cope.
Returning To Play after ACL surgery
Returning to sport after the pandemic is likely to come with its own challenges and there are still many unknowns. However, it is vitally important that individuals use the tools available and seek advice to reduce the risk of both injury and re-injury.
Surgery to repair an ACL tear can help you to return to your previous athletic form but when training or a fully supported rehabilitation programme has been compromised during lockdown, a graded return to full training is recommended.
For more advice on ACL injuries or if you have any other questions about returning to sport after surgery, get in touch with Mr Punwar today to arrange a consultation or book online.