Many Jiu Jitsu practitioners are skeptical of heel hooks, not because of their effectiveness, but the danger of the attack.

This leg attack works by isolating the knee joint to stretch and potential rupture ligaments (ACL, MCL, LCL).

ACL rupture requires reconstruction for return to training, right?

New evidence shows that it depends…

Copers vs. noncopers: 42% of people are copers : meaning they have enough leg strength and dynamic balance to function despite not having an ACL.

IDing a coper:

  • No other injuries
  • Minimal swelling
  • Full ROM
  • Able to walk without a limp
  • 70% quadriceps strength on bilateral comparison
  • Hop on leg without pain
  • 1 or less incidents of knee giving out

ACL reconstruction is still the gold standard for ACL injuries, which is a decision up to the athlete, surgeon and other medical staff. However, there are many high level athletes who return to activity without a functional ACL.

Dr. Mike Piekarski, DPT
BJJ Brown Belt
Former MMA Fighter

Logerstedt, D. S., Snyder-Mackler, L., Ritter, R. C., Axe, M. J., & Godges, J. J. (2010). Knee stability and movement coordination impairments: knee ligament sprain: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(4), A1-A37.