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Can you ski without an ACL?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey yall,
I have been a recreational skier for 35 years. I love skiing, but as I live in NC and after skiing Colorado, skiing the east is more of a pain than a joy - so I try to get time out in CO if I can.
About 4 years ago, I had a really bad accident. (basically take the knee and bend it 90 degrees forward). Then the doc screwed up so what should have been 1 surgery has now become 3. Fortunately, after surgery 1 I found Dr. Steadman in Vail - who has brought my knee back to life!!! Thank you Dr. Steadman!!! I am building the leg up to try skiing in March at Copper, but I still do not have an ACL. I have been told (by Dr. S) that I can do this with a brace - but it is still a scary thought. Has anyone out there had experience skiing sans ACL either with or without a brace? Care to share your thoughts on the differences?
Thanks a bunch, Jessi
post #2 of 13

I think John H skied without an ACL recently, after his tear and before his surgery.

I skied a bit in the mid-80s with an ACL tear using a Lenox-Hill brace, and the tear got completely severed after a fall taken while skking. the brace helped somewhat -- the twist could have been worse -- but it didn't save the knee.

your orthopod should know best, but that assumes you've got one you can trust and rely on. is your orthopod well-known for ACL repair for athletic people?
post #3 of 13
I tore my ACL in a pick-up soccer game about 3 years ago and didn't have the time or money for surgery. I rehabbed and do not wear a brace. I started skiing last year. No problems so far at least. I am not to the level of some of these folks, but at least at MY level ( 6-ish) it is still okay.

HOWEVER, since you have already had a major injury and extensive surgery, you may not be able to rely on my experience.
post #4 of 13
Skiers with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)-deficient knee have a higher rate of injury than skiers with a knee in which the ligament has been reconstructed, who in turn have a greater risk of injury than skiers with intact ACLs. Though there is some clinical evidence that functional bracing of an ACL-deficient knee may decrease the risk of skiing injuries, knee bracing remains controversial as there is no conclusive evidence of its effectiveness.

Those individuals with ACL-deficient knees tend to report a greater sense of stability with bracing, but objective measurements show no significant differences in stability between braced and unbraced ACL-deficient knees.

In the absence of good objective data, the best answer might be to give bracing a try for yourself and then make a decision based upon your own subjective experience.
post #5 of 13
My husband has tears in both ACL's. He owns a Lenox-Hill brace, but hates to ski in it. It's heavy (pre-graphite) and shifts around to the point that he's stopped wearing it. He is now a tentative skier and we don't push it, but he enjoys skiing more without the brace. A second problem, after the shifting, was pinching between the brace and the boot. Maybe these issues would go away with a new brace, but so far he's okay without it.

That being said, I'm the "skier" in the family and would definitely have surgery if I thought my skiing was going to be jeopardized. He did not.
post #6 of 13

ski without acl?

you can certainly win the superbowl as a quarterback without an acl----john elway did it
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback everyone. It does look dicey, and after researching the term "acl deficient" (thanks Dr. Rick), there is definitely alot of information out there on it. It appears that the functional brace will help with lateral and hyperextension motion, but are useless for torque based injuries. It does appear to be something that I will feel safe doing in a conservative manner (with 2 months of gym work, that will make rehab look like a spa massage, in order to build up the quads). Isn't it amazing how one piece of tissue in our bodies effects our lives so much!! Re: John Elway - I think he had an big S under his uniform. =) (Bronco fan in Panther country!)
post #8 of 13
EEK!! Quad strength is important, but not half as important as hamstring strength, especially if you are female. I'm not saying that you should avoid quad strength training, but please don't fall into the typical female workout pattern I see at the gym, which is to work the quads like crazy, then do a long flexiblity routine for the hamstrings, that were never even worked hard enough to need all that stretching.

You will also need to work your abductor/adductors in order to prevent injury to your MCL and medial meniscus. Avoid excessive flexibility training to these areas like the plague.

I was at Bob Barnes' movement analysis session on Tuesday, and a local orthopod was present. He said that one of the reasons that women are prone to ACL injury is that the muscles surrounding the knee are hypermobile, which allows for too much rotation at the knee joint.

However, it gets more complex. You do want rotation at the hip joint. If the knee is capable of a lot of movement, but the hip joint does not open to match the movement, the result is torque, or severe injury.
post #9 of 13
I ski with a brace (no ACL left knee) and don't have any problems (have been skiing 34 years and am a fairly aggressive skier). Play other sports and don't use a brace at all -- also without any trouble.
post #10 of 13
Hello to the the poster who skied with out an acl for a very long time.......did you mees your mcl as well?
post #11 of 13

I've had both ACLs reconstructed. I skied with a generation 2 brace prior to having the surgery. I can only speak to my experience but I found the brace was fine in softer snow conditions but when things firmed up I found the brace was not enough to prevent the knee from torqueing, or what I believe was the fib/tib rotating. Knee would sometimes "lock" when walking. Things are great now. Good luck with it.

post #12 of 13
I have a client who has been skiing for 25 years without an acl. It's definitely possible. Is it a good idea? Not sure. This client didnt know his acl was torn until a second (minor) knee injury 15 years later revealed it. At the time they missed that part of the diagnosis.

Definitely building strength is key, especially with a deficient knee. Yes quads and hamstrings are important, but I will throw one more suggestion out, and that is that hip stability, glute strength, and core strength are at least as important. There is some interesting research linking core strength with acl injuries, and more recently linking hip internal rotation deficinecy with acl injuries.
post #13 of 13

Eviano gives good advice, in addition its all about joint stability and your activity level.  See an OS who has vast ACL experience

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