by Brianna Piel

ACL injuries in female athletes are fairly common.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main stabilizing ligaments of our knee. Its primary function is preventing the tibia (shin bone) from moving too far forward on the femur (thigh bone) but always aids in rotational stability.

Female athletes are at a considerably higher risk for non-contact ACL injuries than males. Non-contact injuries result from activities such as running, jumping, cutting, or decelerations without interference from anyone else. In fact, females are 4 to 6 times more likely to suffer these injuries. However through proper training and awareness this could change.

Preventing ACL Injuries in Female Athletes

Physical therapy for ACL Injuries in female athletes

(Click image to enlarge for easier viewing)

Modifiable factors that put females at increased risk for ACL Injury includes:

  1. Imbalance between quadriceps and hamstring muscle strength
  2. Landing with knees buckled inward
  3. Tendency to hang out on hyperextended knees (too straight) and run in a more upright position than men
  4. Most if not all weight is on a single leg when center of mass is shifted to the outside
  5. Trunk tends to be laterally tilted away with change of direction
  6. Tend to land flat footed

Next time you go for a run or perform a jumping activity pay attention to your form. Do you notice these risk factors? If the answer is yes to any of the above modifiable risk factors, you may want to rethink your training protocol to keep you healthy and on the field.

It is important to strengthen any muscle imbalances to ensure correct form. It is important to always keep a slight bend in your knees. When jumping its important to soften your landing by making sure your knees are bent, not falling in or out, and land on the balls of your feet. Unsure how to make these changes or noticed instability? Comprehensive sports specific training and screening are available.

Contact us today via our contact form, or call us directly at our physical therapy clinics for a personal sports screening. Capital Area PT Saratoga, Malta, (518) 289-5242 and Queensbury NY (518) 502-1154.

References:

1. Osborne M. Why do females injury their knees four to six times more than men…And what can you do about it? University of Colorado Health. 2012. Accessed http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices/sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20Knee%20Injuries%20and%20ACL.pdf

2. Voskanian N. ACL injury presentation in female athletes: review of the literature and practical considerations in implementing an ACL prevention program. Current Review Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2013. 6(2):158-163.