With the increased popularity of women’s sports and the new generation of aspiring female athletes, there has been a rise in female sports participation. However, the increase in sports has also shown that females have a higher risk of damaging or tearing their ACL.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a ligament found in the knee. It is strong and one of the four primary ligaments that help stabilize and pivot the knee joint. The ACL plays a vital roll in sports like basketball, hockey, soccer or any sport that requires quick bursts of speed and quick stop-and-go movements and pivots.
Injuries to the ACL are extremely common in sports and, as a result, ACL reconstruction is a specialty of our Beverly Hills sports medicine doctors.
Studies show that women (especially adolescent females) are 4 to 8 times more likely to injure their ACL compared to males. This difference in risk of injury is most likely due to the hormonal differences and anatomical differences between men and women. For example, women have a wider pelvis, which causes more pressure towards the inside of the knee and an increased pressure on the ACL.
Furthermore, research shows that women have a slower response time (a millisecond longer) for the stabilizing muscles in their knee to respond. This millisecond may result in landing improperly and resulting in injury.
Most experts say women can do four things to help them reduce their risk of ACL injury:
- Avoid landing on a straight knee
- Strength training, especially in the legs and core
- Proper footwear
- Balance, speed and plyometric training
If young female athletes are able to go through the proper training and correct their neuromuscular control and mechanics, studies have shown a 70% to 80% decrease in ACL injuries. Nearly equaling the likelihood to get an ACL injury as their male counterparts.