ACL Injuries In Women
Women and girls are more likely to suffer from torn ACLs than their male counterparts, according to new research. An ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury involves a tear in the ligament that stabilizes the knee and joins the upper and lower leg bones. An ACL injury requires surgery to correct and can be caused by a variety of activities (typically when the knee is twisted, bent backwards, or bent in an unnatural way).
Female Athletes are 2 to 6 Times as Likely to Suffer from an ACL Injury
According to Dr. John Klimkiewicz, head of Sports Medicine at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, “Girls in their adolescent years are probably somewhere between two and six times more likely to have a cruciate injury than guys.” Many physicians and medical professionals have speculated as to the reason behind the prevalence of cruciate injuries in women. One of the most common conclusions is that women just move differently. While men are more likely to land in a crouching position after jumping, women are more likely to land with their knees straight, which puts more strain on the joints and ligaments. Sports where women often jump have the highest incidence of ACL tears, e.g., soccer, lacrosse and basketball.
Injury Prevention More Important Than Ever Before
With the rising occurrence of ACL injuries in women, proper conditioning is even more important. Better preparation and training can reduce the risk of cruciate injuries and help athletes build more strength in their body. Exercise programs that focus on improving balance, movement, and strength are ideal for athletes that want to minimize the risk of ACL injuries. Athletes should begin prevention strategies in their pre-teen years.
Schools can incorporate these balance and strength-based exercises into their practice sessions, and they can be enormously beneficial in preventing injury and improving the overall fitness level in athletes of all ages. Many coaches, due to limitations in space and time, do not incorporate these basic exercises into their routine, but even just a few small changes can make a difference over the long term in keeping young women safe and protected from cruciate injuries.