ACL Tears in Female Athletes

ACL Tears in Female Athletes

Female athletes risk injury to the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL’s) due to a variety of variables. There are a number of theories including ligament laxity, knee valgus moments, pelvic girdle weakness, and quad-dominant movement patterns to name a few. What we do know is that some of these variables can be affected with performance training and strengthening, which are things you can start implementing with your coach or at our HAUS today.

Key Items to consider when designing your strength and agility program:
1. Have you incorporated jump landing mechanics? We know that stiff landings with decreased knee flexion in female athletes’ correlates with higher ACL injuries.

Training exercise 1# Drop Landings

  • Place a 6 inch box on the floor
  • Begin by standing on the box with both feet
  • Rather than jump off the box, begin by stepping off and landing with two feet
  • Your goal is to land softly and to absorb the impact while coming into a squat
  • Your knees should stay in line with your toes during landing

2. Are you targeting hamstring effectively? While there are a number of suggested hamstring exercises for ACL injury prevention, this one is something you might already be doing.

Training exercise 2# Nordic Hamstring Curl

  • Start in a tall kneeling position
  • You can use something stationary to hook your heels under or have a teammate hold your ankles. If your ankles aren’t very flexible try putting a towel roll or yoga mat under your ankles.
  • Cross your arms across your chest to begin.
  • Slowly hinge keeping your torso in a straight line and core engaged.
  • Once you have gone as far as you can with control, return to an upright position.
  • Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps

3. Do you know how to strengthen your soleus? It’s a key part of landing mechanics and should be part of your strength program.

Training exercise 3# Soleus Calf Raises

  • Stand on one leg with your knee bent
  • Place your hands on the wall for balance
  • Start your calf raise maintaining your knee flexion
  • This is accomplished by moving at your ankle and not your knee
  • Work up to 3 sets of 25 reps on each leg

This is not intended to be an all-encompassing program nor are we suggesting this will prevent an ACL injury in female athletes.

Megin Sabo John, PT, DPT, OCS, LMT

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