How did Radamel Falcao overcome his ligament injury?

The Santa Marta striker is one of the best soccer players in the history of Colombia. His great passage through clubs such as River Plate, Porto, Atlético de Madrid, Monaco, Manchester United, Chelsea and Galatasaray proves it. However, the Tiger remembers a problem that meant a before and after in his career. But how did Radamel Falcao manage to overcome his ligament injury?

The fateful moment occurred during the 2013-2014 season, when he was wearing the Monaco jersey. To be more precise, on 23 January 2014 in a French Cup match against Chasselay of the Championnat National two (French fourth division).

So that, the origin of the injury was a sweep by Soner Ertek, who in a desperate attempt to reach the ball ended up carrying Radamel's left leg, causing the joints to twist in the opposite direction to natural movement. The worst of all? A diagnosis of partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.

What kind of ligament injury did Radamel Falcao suffer?

To understand the injury we must know that the cruciate ligaments, both anterior and posterior, form an "X" that serves the purpose of linking and balancing the bones in the knee.

If we talk about anterior cruciate ligament, its function is to prevent slippage of the tibia towards the external zone. For its part, the posterior crusader is in charge of opposing a sliding of the tibia backwards, below the femur.

On the other hand, ligament injuries can be partial, complete, or avulsion. In that sense, the partial is the breakage of a fascicle. In turn, the complete one corresponds to a tear in both fascicles. Finally, avulsion is the separation of the cruciate ligament at some end.

Internalizing the above, the medical report at that time revealed that Falcao suffered a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This affectation has a recovery time of approximately 6 months, which led the attacker to put his participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at risk.

The cruciate ligaments are found inside the knee, forming an X that stabilizes the joint.

How did Radamel Falcao overcome the ligament injury?

We will start from two fundamental aspects to explain how Radamel Falcao overcame the ligament injury: the physical and the mental.

The first step was the operation that José Carlos Noronha, the surgeon in charge of handling the case, explained to the media: “We will make a new anterior cruciate ligament with a patellar bit from the left leg. in an operation that lasts between 50 and 60 minutes ”.

After this, the process consisted of waiting about 4-5 weeks for the integration of the materials and the fixation of the tendon. From that point, it was the turn of active physiotherapy with several phases.

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Physiotherapy phase 1

This phase was carried out 4 weeks after the intervention to reduce remaining inflammation and any hint of pain. Among the measures that were taken are the following:

  • Isometric exercises application.
  • Use of motor control exercises or kinetic control.
  • Gradual movements until both flexion and extension are achieved at 90 degrees.
  • Careful rehabilitation to extend range of motion.
  • Support the foot gradually.

Physiotherapy phase 2

Between weeks 6 and 10 the second phase began. Falcao's evolution marked the exact point to take the next step in his recovery. Consequently, the alternatives used were varied:

  • Hamstrings and quadriceps exercises.
  • Proprioception activities.
  • Eccentric exercises of closed kinetic chain.
  • Sitting knee elongation.
  • Concentric exercises of closed kinetic chain.
  • Stationary bicycle.
  • Movements in the pool.

Physiotherapy phase 3

It started 3 months after the operation, after having the MRI. Consequently, the goals that were set were to recover part of the elementary sports capacities with resistance and strength.

The following was used:

  • Flexibility exercises.
  • Application of eccentric and concentric exercises for both closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain.
  • Muscle strengthening exercises.
  • Moderate running.
  • Advanced proprioception activities.
  • Cycling.
  • Swimming.
  • Works on aerobic endurance.

Swimming is a low-impact exercise for the joints that can be part of the rehabilitation processes of the lower limbs.

Physiotherapy phase 4

In phase 4 of physiotherapy, which helps us understand how Radamel Falcao overcame the ligament injury, the improvement was substantial and the optimism of reaching the World Cup was on the rise.

However, the only enemy was not recovering from the partial tear of the ligament, but getting in shape. It was carried out at 4 months and consisted of this sequence:

  • Plyometry or jumping exercises.
  • Monopodal conditioning.
  • Intermediate demand career.
  • Movements of rhythm changes.
  • Sequences of changes of direction.

Also read: Neymar suffered a sprained left ankle: what is the injury about?

Return to the ring of Radamel Falcao

Between month 5 and 6 came the moment of truth, in which the mental part played a very important role during the final recovery phase. This required a specialist to strengthen thoughts based on the confidence of abilities, serenity, emotional balance and removing fears that a crash would trigger an injury of the same characteristics.

Despite Falcao's great effort and countless sacrifices to overcome his ligament injury, the times did not allow him to be in full shape to be considered by José Néstor Pékerman among those called up for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But as in life, football gave Falcao revenge. 4 years later, in Russia 2018, he not only participated, but was the captain.

In short, the answer to how Radamel Falcao managed to overcome his ligament injury lies in a perfect surgical intervention, specialized rehabilitation treatment, mental strength and, above all, resilience.

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