Can I Run with a Torn ACL?
Is it ok to run with a torn ACL?Answer by Dominique:
First off, thanks for reaching out with your question about running with a torn ACL. Here's what you need to know in a nutshell - it's not a good idea, but let's dig deeper into why that is.
Let's go into a few things:1. What is an ACL?
2. What happens when the ACL is torn?
3. Recovery from and treatment of an ACL tear
What is an ACL?
Let's start by explaining what an ACL is. The ACL, short for anterior cruciate ligament, is a crucial connector in our knee. It links the big bone in our thigh (known as the femur) to a bone in our lower leg called the shin bone (or tibia). This ligament holds the bones together, making our knee stable and allowing it to bend and twist without problems.
What happens when the ACL is torn?
Now, imagine this ligament being torn. When this happens, the knee becomes really unstable and wobbly. It's like a tent without proper support, sort of shaky and not very reliable.
Running with an injured knee, especially on uneven surfaces, can be as risky as running on a wobbly bridge - not something we want, right?
On top of our shin bone is a kind of special padding called cartilage, which cushions our knee joint. It's like nature's shock absorber. But when the ACL is torn, your knee may not function correctly causing your femur, the thigh bone, to start rubbing against the shin bone. The rubbing can cause significant damage to the cartilage.
Recovery from and treatment of an ACL tear
Recovery from a torn ACL leans heavily on the severity of the tear. Little tears or partial tears can sometimes heal on their own. You might be thinking, "how long before I'm back to running then?"
We're usually looking at months of healing and rehab. That is not something you want to hear at this stage, but it is reality.
What is involved in the treatment of a torn ACL? In short:1. Rest and ice
- The recovery process itself starts with rest and ice to reduce swelling and pain.2. Physical therapy
- You'll probably also have physical therapy to rebuild the strength in the muscles around the knee. This helps your knee to get some of its stability back - sort of like scaffolding around a building.3. Surgery
- If the tear is bigger, you may need surgery to fix the torn ACL. Although it sounds scarier and the recovery process is long, it's often the only way to fix the ACL. 4. Post-surgery rehab
- After surgery there is a period of rehab focusing on getting your knee back to its best shape!
So, torn ACL and running? Let's err on the side of caution, and not. I would highly recommend working with a doctor to determine the best course of action with your torn ACL. It is basically the only way forward. They will provide a roadmap to recovery tailored to your particular situation. Remember, patience is key and giving yourself time to heal is an important first step.
Until then, I'd strongly advise laying off the running completely. Consult with your health professional on what other forms of low-impact exercise you could be doing instead. Often the trick with these longer-lasting injuries is to accept and embrace the recovery process
and find out what other exercise you are able to do instead.
Take care of your knee, because like a true friend, it supports you wherever you go!
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Best of luck,