Did you know that female athletes are more susceptible to ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee) tears than male athletes? There are a number of reasons, including basic anatomy, differences in the way a female’s muscles contract and react, hormonal influences and biomechanical considerations related to the position of knees during athletic activities.
Approximately 80 percent of female ACL tears are non-contact, meaning another athlete was not involved in the injury. While contact injuries are most likely unpreventable, there are many proactive training strategies for lowering the risk of non-contact ACL injuries among female athletes.
“It is imperative for coaches, parents and players to become educated about the risk factors for ACL tears among female athletes,” says Alicia Shoup, DPT, OCS, STC, site manager at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation-CedarPointe. “Stretching, strengthening, agility and jumping exercises and coordination activities can lower the overall ACL injury rate among female athletes.”
Physical therapists can work with female athletes to implement programs to avoid abnormal movement patterns and decrease stress on the knees. They also can make recommendations so that athletes can stay flexible, increase their core and hamstring strength and improve self-awareness of leg positioning.
A consultation with a physical therapist may be just the thing necessary to address female athletic performance concerns and prevent a painful ACL tear.