Women Tear their ACL 2 - 8X More Often Than Men
Women tear an ACL more often than men doing the same activities - soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and even military training. These activities take place under the same conditions - the same courts, fields, equipment and rules.
You can learn simple exercises to prevent ACL tears. Coaches, add exercises to practice sessions - they will make a difference.
What is an ACL? What does it do?
The ACL is a ligament that helps hold the knee together. Most people with a torn ACL have trouble with their knee buckling. The buckling happens more often during sports. Most people with a tear will need ACL reconstruction surgery. It can take up to a year to return to normal activity.
What Causes the Injury Difference Between Women & Men
It isn't really clear from the research, and there is likely more than one single factor. A lot of studies have been done looking at numerous potential gender differences. There is no clear answer.
PPTSM's physical therapist Chris DiPasquale did his PhD dissertation on the potential difference in male and female hormones as a possible cause. No differences were found in knee muscle strength or ACL flexibility with normal hormone changes in women.
Exercises Proven to Reduce Risk of ACL Tears In Women
Studies have definitely found that certain exercises decrease the risk of ACL tears in women. Women that regularly do these exercises are less likely to tear an ACL. The exercises are not complicated. They don't take a lot time. Many of these exercises can be incorporated into warm-ups or cool downs. They are more likely to get done if included in routine training.
Exercises Improve Stability
ACL injury prevention exercises work to improve hip, knee and ankle control. The joints will line up better; staying out of positions that ACL tears occur. The exercises also work on core stability. If your core is weak, the joints in your leg line up in positions that lead to ACL tears.
The American Physical Therapy Association has developed instructions with picture of 7 ACL injury prevention exercises that you can do at home. Ali Kreiger, USA Women's SOccer star, also produced a video teaching 7 ACL tear prevention exercises you can do at home.
Links to these resources are available on our web site, pptsm.com. Click on the "For PT Consumers" tab, then on "ACL Tear Prevention."
You will also find a prevention video from the University of New England Doctor of Physical Therapy program. They explain why the exercises work and show the exercises being used with youth soccer players.
Christopher DiPasquale, PhD, PT, OCS, SCS, CHT is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine with offices in Hebron and Colchester, Connecticut. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and a Certified Hand Therapist by the Hand Therapy Certification Committee.
For more information visit pptsm.com or call the office: Colchester 860-537-3014 or Hebron 860-228-4883