How I ruptured my ACL

It was a typical Tuesday night for me.

I have been playing football for over 35 years and, on this night, I was playing a friendly game with friends. The game was at a local all-weather 4G pitch and we played an 8-a-side game.

The Injury

It was over one hour into the game and the ball was in our half. I was sitting in a defensive midfield position and protecting the defence.

The ball broke off one of our players, headed towards the sideline and out of play. An opposition player moved to shield the ball from me, and in a split second, I decided to try to nip in front to steal the ball before it went out.

I was quick and took him by surprise, but he was quicker and stepped across to shield the ball. He made contact with my left shoulder just before my left foot reached the ground. As my left foot planted with a bent knee, my weight shifted to the left and I instinctively pushed through my left foot to fight against the contact.

Unfortunately, my upper body weight was too far to the left and this force went through my knee and pushed it to the right. I felt the familiar pressure build and the “pop” as it gave way.

The Aftermath

I knew straight away what had happened. This is the third time, and the knee popping so far out of place can only mean a ligament is damaged.

But the pain was very brief, and it settled down quickly. After three or four minutes, I stood up and walked without any problem. I could even bend my knee with weight on it, and there was no sign of swelling.

I persuaded myself that it wasn’t so bad, and dared to dream that it could be ok.

My Theories

I thought a lot about this injury. I wanted to know why it happened, and if there was anything I could have done to prevent it.

Here are a few of the ideas that I came up with:

  • Pushing too Hard
    This was over an hour into a game, and I was already fatigued. I was not in top physical condition for football, and I tried to play like I was.
  • Managing the Game
    I didn’t need to chase that ball – we were winning comfortably, and there was no danger. It was an unnecessary risk.
  • Lack of Conditioning
    I am not playing football seriously anymore, and I am not motivated to train hard for it. I had previous ACL reconstructions and know that it is important to train in the right way for contact sports.
  • Chance
    This is the biggest one. Even professional athletes, with the best training and methods, have a good chance of this injury.

It is important to reflect on the injury. If we don’t learn from failures, then we are doomed to repeat them.

But, once the learning is done, it’s time to move on, look forward, and focus on the recovery.

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