Ester Marsh column: Coming back from ACL injury or surgery

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 14, 2018

Have you dealt with ACL injury or surgery and are trying to get back into the “game”?

Many people have heard of ACL injuries and surgeries but what is it exactly? Your ACL, short for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, is one of four main ligaments in the knee that connects the femur (big bone upper leg) to the tibia (shinbone lower leg). It’s one of the most common athletic injuries due to the quick moves, jumps and turns in most competitive sports. ACL injuries have risen due to more participants ranging from early childhood to aging adults in competitive sports.

An estimated 230,000 cases of ACL injuries will occur this year alone and over 60 percent are of the non-contact nature. Typically, it takes 4 to 6 months of rehab after ACL surgery in order to return to pre-injury shape. It is unclear why only 36 percent of ACL injuries ever return to the prior level of performance. As a retired athlete myself, I know when I dealt with my injuries it seemed like it took forever for rest and rehabilitation. To great frustration of our college doctor, I would never rehab or rest the appropriate amount of time from my injuries. I kept trying to get back in action too soon and it ultimately made me stop the sport of judo. I wonder if that’s the main reason only 36 percent of people with ACL injuries return to pre-injury performance — the other 64 percent are hardheads like myself who do not rest or rehab the right way.

Building effective training progressions is the key to success of any athlete, especially ones returning from an injury or surgery. On Saturday, May 19, from 10:45 a.m. to noon, we have a free clinic at our JF Hurley Family YMCA with Novant ACL performance group: Joel Burgess (who helped with this column), John Knox and Brian Bauk. We do like to know how many athletes (young and old) to expect, so please contact me at or call 704-636-0111 ext. 212 to let us know if you are attending this great free clinic. There is a questionnaire you need to fill out for these guys to help you better. I can send it via email or you can pick it up at our YMCA.

So if you feel you have lost a step or two after ACL injury/surgery, or you feel you need a program to get your “game” ready and want to exceed your expectations, please join us this Saturday!

Wear athletic clothing and shoes and be ready to work out with this program to get you back where you want to be. There is no greater joy than experiencing the feeling of returning to your sport!

I hope to see you this Saturday!

Ester H. Marsh is health & fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA