The ACL as a Mechanoreceptor
The ACL is a major mechanoreceptor in the body meaning it provides feedback to the brain and spinal cord to let your body know it’s positions in space. After suffering an ACL injury it is essential to increase your proprioceptive awareness in order to fully rehabilitate the injury and help to prevent further injury to the ACL or injury to the other knee. Balance training on bosu balls, foam pads, and balance boards are huge in this but also advancing yourself to working on quick changes in direction and decelerating after sprinting. The ACL tells your body where and how to work in these movements and any lag in time for feedback to the brain leaves you in a vulnerable position allowing higher risk of ACL injury. These drills are important in rehabilitation and preventative training programs. Make sure you are doing the appropriate moves to ensure your body the best recovery from injury!
After an ACL injury it can be very hard for an athlete to restore their normal reaction times and relearn their proprioceptive ability or the awareness of their knee in positions and movements. Sometimes this is thought of as a mental block or being scared to perform certain movements again following an injury but it has just as much to do with the decreased neuromuscular awareness stemming from the damaged or missing mechanoreceptors as it does the brain itself. This can play a huge role in the risk of reinjuring your ACL because a decrease in proprioceptive abilities of the knee can contribute to improper cutting, jumping, or landing mechanics further contributing to your risk of ACL tear. Remember, about 70% about ACL injuries are noncontact injuries but with proper strength training programs and coaches working with athletes on jumping, landing, and cutting movements a lot of these injuries and reinjures can be prevented.