The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) attaches the femur, which is the thighbone, and the tibia, which is the shin, together (northstar). A torn ACL is one of the most excruciating experiences in an athlete's life. It is the first thing that comes to mind when they hurt their knee on the field; for many it is their greatest fear. A torn ACL can sometimes mean the end of an athlete's career. It can mean losing the chance to get that scholarship for young athletes, and it can also mean the end of those million dollar paychecks for those who have gone professional. A torn ACL can result in numerous surgeries, months of vigorous exercise and rehabilitation, and a sufficient amount of pain. It requires complete patience, for pushing too hard can result in further, more painful injury. Even after all that, an athlete is not guaranteed he or she will ever be able to play sports again.
The anterior cruciate ligament is the reason that the knee only has one pattern of movement. Instead of moving sideways and up and down, the knee only serves as a pivot for flexion (bending) and extension (straightening); it holds the tibia and femur in place (northstar). In the northstar web page it is stated that, "The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most important ligaments to athletes because of its main function, stabilization of the joint while decelerating." In other words, it is the reason that we can stop abruptly without our leg collapsing. Obviously this asset makes it an essential to have a functioning ACL while playing sports. It is an especially common injury in soccer, which is a game of constant abrupt stops. Not only is soccer a danger to the ACL because of its constant stops and starts, it is also a game of jumps, falls, and slide-tackles, which put a continuous stress on the ACL for the entire 90 minutes of the game. ACL tears are also more common in women. It is said that the reason for this is because women's bodies were not meant for playing intense sports, and are therefore more likely to endure such injuries.