I recently read b-reddy’s latest post about ACL recovery and it made me think about the optimal age to recover from a torn ACL.
Is there a such thing as an optimal age? Isn’t tearing your ACL bad all around for you? Obviously yes.
However, the physical and mental capacity to deal with the recovery process is underrated and this Brian talks about this a bit in the post. Let’s consider the different age ranges and its implications on your recovery process:
- Teens – You’re 16 years old and playing JV basketball and tear your ACL in a game. As Brian refers to in the post, you may think your high school basketball career is over. In addition to the lack of ability to play, you miss the camaraderie of bonding with your teammates as they go through the season.
- 20s – If you didn’t play college or junior college sports, you are most likely a weekend warrior like most new professionals are. This is the optimal age range to tear your ACL in my opinion since you have the maturity and resources to go through with a full recovery protocol. You’ve probably experienced various amounts of pain both emotionally and physically, so are better equipped to withstand the pain to come with recovery. Your knee will also recover quicker the younger you are, but not as quick as when you were in your teens.
- 30s – Unfortunately, things just get tougher as you age. Your body does not recover as quickly from a traumatic experience (in this case, an invasive surgery) and your athletic activity may be decreasing due to work and family commitments. While you definitely more mature in this age range to deal with the recovery, many may just opt to not go with the surgery since they know their physical activity will not require a lot of sports or side-to-side cutting.
- 40s – I’m not there yet, but I would assume that unless you are physically active all the time, the surgery may be avoided all together since you want to be able to still play with your kids but not in an athletic sense. Your body definitely will not recover as quickly as when you’re in your 20s but that’s expected.
While it’s never good to tear your ACL, I’m glad it happened in my 20s vs. another age range given that I was already at a certain level of fitness and the recovery process felt like it was like working out to build up a muscle that I’ve been wanting to work out anyway.