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The huddle

November 16, 2015

Tearing My ACL

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As soon as I fell, I knew. I had torn my ACL. The sound still echoes in my head, the moment stuck on replay in my head.

Soccer has been the focal point in my life since I can remember. Every weekend was spent driving to games and every weekday was spent on the field practicing. When I was fourteen I heard the words “ACL prevention,” from a coach. She recommended that everyone on the team start strength training

Looking back, I did all the right things when it came to ACL prevention. I learned the importance of strength training at a fairly young age and continued it throughout high school and college career. But it only takes one awkward step, to have a season stolen from you.

Four girls on my team, both my coaches, countless friends of friends, and old teammates have all undergone this injury. On almost every team I play against, there is a girl sitting out because she has torn her ACL. Scarier than that, re-tear is extremely common and the thought of it stings me with fear every time I imagine myself back on the field. Some of the time I feel inspired and imagine myself scoring a goal when I finally make it back. Other times I picture a devastating fall bringing me back to the sideline. It is not just soccer girls; all athletic girls from lacrosse to skiing suffer from this outbreak.

The journey to play again is strenuous and painful. However, when I finally began practicing again, my biggest battle was not my body but my mind. It kept reminding me every step, kick, and tackle I took that I need to be cautious. My confidence had been shot, and I found myself at the bottom of the team. Quitting would probably have made things a lot easier, but it was never an option.

For me soccer is and always has been my favorite thing. Having something I love being taken away from me is cruel. I learned a lot from the experience, but the commonality of it in female athletes is frightening. Will the only answer to athletes on how to prevent it really only be to do squats and hope for the best?

Ten Things That Happen During ACL Recovery

  1. You will cry.

Not just when you actually tear it-you’ll probably cry a month after, or even five months after because sometimes life really sucks when you are recovering from your torn ACL.

  1. Putting on your pants and shoes will take you five minutes.

When you can’t bend your knee, or stand on one leg, getting dressed becomes a struggle.

  1. Your relationship with Netflix becomes even tighter.

With nothing else to do, why not watch the whole series of Gilmore Girls over Spring break while your friends go to Costa Rica.

  1. Sleeping is a process.

There is no comfortable position for the first week. You are not tired either because you haven’t done anything all day. Yet you could always go for a nap.

  1. You may pee yourself.

Don’t judge. You need help getting up and you can’t move that fast on crutches. When my mom was on the phone and didn’t hear me calling for her, I was helpless.

  1. Don’t eat pizza and ice cream within 48hrs after surgery

Pain meds and junk food don’t mix well. On top of your knee you don’t want to feel nauseous. However I recommend treating yourself after 48hrs, because you deserve it!

  1. You will never crave a shower more.

Doctor’s order. Wait four days until getting the incision wet.

  1. When you try to finally go out on the weekend, you will cry again.

Mixing Alcohol with your torn ACL is a perfect mix for an emotional break down. However sometimes you got to get it out of your system.

  1. You become closer with your parents.

My dad taught my how to play cribbage and my mom bribed me with getting my nails done just to get me out of the house. In the end, your parents are there with you for the whole 6-8 months. They are your biggest supporters and there is no way I would have made it without them.

  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

ACLs are brutal, but coming back from them will make you stronger. Look at Tom Brady and Lindsey Vonn!