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Cruciate injuries
Around the Academy:

Lawrence Dallaglio injured his knee in the Lions' tour of Australia
Dallaglio spent nearly a year on the sidelines

Craig Smith

Cruciate injuries are dreaded by footballers, cricketers and rugby players.

Just ask Roy Keane, Herschelle Gibbs or Lawrence Dallaglio.

All have ruptured their cruciate ligaments and took at least six months to get back to full fitness.

The cruciate ligaments are the two internal ligaments of the knee joint that prevent the lower and upper leg bones from sliding forward and backwards on each other.

They are called the anterior (front) and posterior (back) cruciate ligaments and are vulnerable when the leg is twisted and bent in a tackle or a maul.

Of the two, injuries to the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) are the most common.

Sydney Roosters' Ryan Cross grimaces in pain after injuring his knee
Cruciate injuries are very painful

If you were to rupture your ACL, you can expect a lengthy lay-off from your sport, an operation and a long rehab programme to get you back to full fitness.

The operation involves borrowing part of another tendon to re-make the cruciate ligament and will leave your knee stiff and sore for a few weeks.

Your surgeon may have you on crutches until you are able to walk unsupported.

The key to recovery from an ACL injury is getting back the strength in your leg muscles.

Both the quadricep (front of leg) and hamstring (back of leg) will weaken after the op and your physio will help you get these muscles back to full strength.

You will also work towards being able to fully bend and straighten your knee again.

The old proverb 'no pain no gain' is probably best applied here as treatment to loosen the knee can be extremely painful but is very rewarding in the end.

After a period of three to six months you may start jogging again and as your control, balance and strength returns, so you may start turning and sprinting.

The normal recovery period is anywhere from 6-12 months depending on the seriousness of the injury, the surgeon's success at repairing or replacing the ligament and how hard you work to regain full fitness.

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Cruciate injuries
Torn hamstring
Dislocated shoulder

Did you know?
Cruciate ligament injuries mean at least 9 months on the sidelines
A torn hamstring will keep an athlete out of action for 6-8 weeks
A dislocated shoulder may take 6 weeks to heal

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