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Females and ACL Prevention -pt. 2

I’m continuing my series on ACL injury prevention. If you didn’t catch part 1 of the series you can read that In the previous blog.

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but research shows that females incur ACL injuries anywhere from 4-8 times more than males.

Here are just a few reasons why this happens. Keep in mind this information pertains to the majority of athletes, not necessarily ALL of them…

There are two main categories for why females tear their ACL more frequently than males. Those two categories are anatomical and movement based.

Anatomical Factors

1. Ligament laxity.

– Women tend to have more elasticity and laxity in their muscles and ligaments. This can allow the body to get into greater ranges of motion (not necessarily bad), which in turn can create more sheer force on the ligaments.

2. Q angle.

The Q angle is measured from the outer most part of the hip to the knee. Because females tend to have a wider pelvis, this angle is greater, thus predisposing the knee to migrate inward upon flexion. This inward movement can cause greater stress on the ACL ligament.

3. ACL and Intercondylar Notch.

The groove on the femur bone in which the ACL passes through is naturally smaller in women. As a result, the ACL is smaller as well, which leads to increased risk.

Movement Factors

1. Muscular imbalance.

– Females tend to have stronger quads than hamstrings. This over reliance on the quads can cause compensatory patterns at the knee leading to an ACL injury.

2. Landing mechanics.

– In general, studies show that women tend to land more flat footed (rather than absorbing through the balls of their feet). This faulty habit decreases proper motor control and increases the rate of injury.

3. Running form.

– Females have a tendency to run and perform movement more upright than male counterparts. This moves the center of gravity higher, decreases movement control, and increases injury risk.

In summary, every person is different. Some males have these same risk factors, and some females only have a few of these risk factors. We still have to account for the fact that every individual is unique and will have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Stayed tuned for part 3 where I will discuss strategies for reducing ACL injuries.