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ACL Injuries

ACL injuries

Knee injuries and in particular ligament sprains are very common in skiing but far less common in snowboarding. This is because in snowboarding both feet are strapped down and pointing in the same direction, which helps protect them from twisting. The Anterior cruciate ligament is one of the 4 ligaments of the knee; it attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It is a vital ligament in all-sporting activities providing stability especially in preventing rotational/pivoting movement. In snow sports the ACL is commonly damaged by: landing from a jump, falling awkwardly or by a direct collision. Often ACL injuries are accompanied with meniscal or other ligament injuries.


  • Popping sound

  • Extreme pain and tenderness

  • Hemarthosis (swelling) occurring quickly within 24 hours

  • Feeling of instability

  • Restricted movement

When to see a physiotherapist or medical professional

  • Try to see someone within the first hour of injury as otherwise the swelling makes it very hard to examine

  • If you are unable to see a medical professional immediately follow the PRICE principle:

P- protect

R- rest

I- ice

C- Compress

E- Elevate


1. Jumping- if your weight is backwards when you land the boot can push on the calf and force the tibia forwards which can cause the ACL to tear- learn to jump with the correct technique, landing with your weight forwards on both skis, your knees flexed and ensure you are slowly progressing the difficulty of jumps

3. Condition your lower limb and core strength before coming skiing to increase the stability of your knee

4. Prevent fatigue- have regular breaks as then you will be less likely to fall

2. Falls- If you attempt to stand up during a fall all the weight will go onto the outside of one leg and the body will rotate which can cause the ACL to tear- a controlled fall is better than ending with your knees in a more awkward position- don’t try to get up until you have stopped sliding

5. Check your technique- good technique= knees below hips, bent knees, arms forwards and control over your speed and balance. If you are falling try to keep your skis together and your arms forwards to prevent knee and wrist injury

6. Consider wearing knee supports for weaker knees, which may have been previously injured

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