Protect yourself from knee injuries

The most feared knee injury is an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But any knee injury can keep you away from play or cause long-term problems.

Next to the ankle, the knee is a commonly injured joint in football players. Direct (being tackled or blow) or indirect (pivoting, twisting) impact to the knee may affect the ligaments (particularly the anterior cruciate ligament), tendons or cartilage.

The ACL is one of the major stabilising ligaments in the knee joint that prevents excessive movements of the lower leg against the thigh. Seventy per cent of all ACL injuries happen without contact with another player. Mechanisms in football involve a one-step stop deceleration, a sudden change of direction, landing from a jump with the knee and hip at extension – or a lapse of concentration.

If you tear your ACL, you may miss six to nine months of play as a result of the injury. In about two-thirds of all complete ACL tears, there is also damage to other structures of the knee. Complete ACL tears frequently lead to long-term problems, including instability and an early onset of arthrosis of the knee normally found in elderly people as a consequence of ageing.

The “11+” teach you how to perform the above described moves in a way that decreases your risk of an ACL and any other knee injury.

Symptoms and signs

  • Popping or snapping sound in the knee at time of injury
  • Pain, swelling, inability to completely straighten knee 
  • Inability to place weight on the knee, feeling loose or unstable

First aid

Apply PRICE to the injured knee.