The Mental Side of an ACL Injury

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Katie Barnes

November 28, 2018


My first thought when I did my ACL, was this sucks! I was playing social netball, putting the well-known plant and twist motion into action. One of those pivots, like so many people before me, was responsible for my ACL injury. The moment I twisted, I knew I had done it!

You go through so many emotions when you're injured. You're allowed to cry. You're allowed to say it's not fair. The mental fog that came with the prospect of a long-term rehab process was not an easy one to deal with. Some days were worse than others. But know this; it gets better.

Personally, I had surgery to repair my ACL, but this isn't always needed. Your treatment will depend on your rehab goals and lifestyle. I wanted the ability to return to netball, should I choose to.

As much as injuries are a nuisance, they are a window of opportunity to dedicate some much-needed time to focus on yourself. Slowing down is a rare commodity these days. When working on your injury rehab, it's also a great time to work on general strength and conditioning even on the non-injured side. This will help with injury prevention in the future and get you back to sport fit and ready.

I found the hardest part of my ACL injuries was dealing with the mental fog. You want to do things, but you can't which in turn gets you down. If you are used to being active, then you no longer have your regular endorphins release, which play a big part in making you happy and less stressed. Being as active as you can within your rehab limitations helps to lift this. Suddenly your feelings of "can't" turn into "can", just often not in the way that you thought it could be.

The Exercise Physiologists and Physios at TSIC are well equipped in working within your personal rehab parameters. Having someone there to push you and keep you accountable is really beneficial. The protocols in place for returning to sport after an ACL are followed by everyone at TSIC. They all work together to make sure you're hitting the recommended evidence-based criteria.

Personally, I haven't returned to netball (yet) but am running three days per week. This year, I have completed two fun runs, including my first ever 10km run. I miss netball and hate sitting on the side lines, but at the moment I am enjoying exploring other avenues of exercise that are keeping me fit, active and happy.


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