BodyICE Recovery

POP - Insights From 13 Australian Athletes on ACL Injury

Pop - When Sport Brings Us To Our Knees


The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament - the tissue that connects the thighbone to the shinbone, at the knee. An ACL injury is when this anterior cruciate ligament in the knee is torn. Symptoms include knee swelling, instability and pain.

ACL injury can be a traumatic experience – well at least it has been for me. It normally happens whilst playing sport – that sudden change of direction, a twist, a knock and then ‘POP’, you’ve ruptured your ACL. However, it can also happen doing not much at all – a sudden slip or a knock whilst playing with your dog… whatever the case, it’s an unwelcome experience and sets you back physically and also mentally as you not only have to re-build your leg, but also your confidence.

l’ve had the displeasure of rupturing my ACL twice during my time as an aerial skier and the memory of each moment is imprinted in my mind and sends chills up my spine. It’s not necessarily painful when it happens, but the recovery from surgery (if that’s the way you go) is long and arduous and with that, it takes time to feel confident enough to return to sport.

Did you know Australia has the highest anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction rate in the world? HOW does this happen? WHY does this happen?

In her latest best-selling book “POP: When Sport Brings Us To Our Knees” Sports & Exercise physiotherapist Jess Cunningham shines a unique lens on ACL injuries and their management by sharing the insightful and inspiring stories of 13 Australian athletes and their journeys through injury, rehabilitation, and return to sport. 

Given my own successful return to sport after two ACL reconstructions, I was asked to be one of these athletes to share my own ACL injury experiences of which I happily obliged.

"It took a while to diagnose exactly what was wrong. We didn’t have a physiotherapist with us. I saw local doctors and was sent for an MRI that clearly showed I’d torn my ACL. I remember breaking down, thinking my world had come to an end. At that point I was number two in the world. It was only my second year, but I was winning World Cups already and to-ing and fro-ing on the podium with fellow teammate Alisa Camplin. I was doing triples already, and so everything was on track for the Torino Olympics (2006). 

I’d blown my knee with the Olympics just around the corner. It was July, and the Olympics were in February. It was the worst timing for something like this to happen. It was a disaster.

I flew home and saw our team doctor in Melbourne and got ‘booked in' for surgery. Because it was such a short time before the Olympics, it was a question of what were we going to do? My choice was between using a traditional hamstring graft, or an Achilles tendon allograft from a cadaver which was fairly new in 2005. 

I had a good surgeon, so had confidence in his suggestions and didn’t seek any other opinions. The timeframes involved for a hamstring graft meant I would most likely miss the Olympics, and my knee was too unstable to leave it and try conservatively, so we decided to go with the allograft. It would be less invasive and would give me the best chance of recovering in time to try to make it to the Olympics."


- Lydia Lassila

In Jess's book, each athlete reflects on their own unique experience and provides valuable insight and advice so that anyone working through their own ACL injury can learn from their successes - as well as their mistakes - and be motivated to complete their rehabilitation successfully so as to return to the sport or active life they love and avoid re-rupture. 

POP is a valuable resource and aims to act as a conversation starter, opening up the necessary dialogue between patients, surgeons, and therapists to ensure the best decisions are made with regard to patient-specific ACL treatment, as well as increasing awareness around evidence-based training programs that have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of ACL injuries (and re-ruptures) from occurring in the first place.

The common phrase from the athletes interviewed for this book tells its story: “I wish something like this had existed when I was going through it all.”



POP is now available for sale here at BodyICE and I can’t think of a better match than our Medium Universal Knee Ice Pack and POP to guide you and help with your recovery process. After all, I founded BodyICE to help people all of the world recover from their injuries and this book does the same.


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