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Two ligaments that are like two tough bands hold your knee joint together. The anterior ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament. They cross one another in the middle of the knee forming it's pivot. Although held, by a complex system of tendons and ligaments, the knee is particularly vulnerable to athletic injuries because of the frailty of the connection between the femur and the tibia.

Athletes put tremendous pressure on their knees when the land on their feet or when they change direction on the planted leg. Some of those movements can expose the knees to forces as much as two to four times their body weight. The joint is at times exposed to a number of contortions that does not allow the muscles to absorb the chocks, which in return are absorbed by the knee. This is when you are exposed to injure your ACL.

I don't think that there are any conditioning programs that can protect you against that type or injury but, you can certainly strengthen the muscles around your knees to minimize the risks of tearing your ligaments. The stronger the muscles around your knee the less pressure you will put on your joint.
To stabilize a weak knee you must tend to exercises such as one legged leg press, one-legged squats and step-ups. You will built strength and balance as you work one leg at a time.

In 1996, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament in my fourth NFL game. I had seen one of my teammates go down with the same injury two months earlier but, until I became a victim, I thought I was immune to that sort of injury. From what I've seen since I have been playing football an ACL can happen many different ways. But here are the most obvious signs.

When I ruptured my ACL, I felt a pop in my knee and an unsteady sensation. Although, I was able to get up and limp to the sideline I felt like my leg had no strength to carry me.

If you've suffered a ruptured ACL you can expect to experience those signs.

1) Difficulty walking, a feeling of instability in the knee and swelling, usually beginning within one to two hours after injury and peaking about four to six hours later.

2) You must see your physician immediately for an MRI to determine the degree of the damage.

3) Most ACL ruptures require surgery. During an ACL reconstruction, the surgeon drills a tunnel through the tibia and the femur and attaches a replacement ligament called a graft. The graft may be a piece of tissue taken from a cadaver, from another part of the patient's leg or from a synthetic material.
My graft was a piece of my patella tendon.

4) To recover from your ACL you must do stretching and strengthening exercises. Your rehab is extremely important; it will dictate if you will make a full recovery or not. The recovery time varies from one individual to another. Nevertheless, expect several months to a year coming back.