Preventing ACL Tears in Female Athletes

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Posted on March 12, 2014

According to the research, females are 4-6 times more likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) as compared to males participating in similar sports. 1 in 50 to 1 in 100 females are likely to tear their ACL. Unfortunately, if the ACL is torn and repaired females are two to three times more likely to tear it again. Several theories regarding this gender discrepancy have been proposed: anatomical, hormonal and neuromuscular differences. At this time ,it appears deficits in the neuromuscular system is the primary cause. The good news, these deficits can be identified and reduced.

Momentum Physical Therapy and Zona Volleyball Club have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for eight years. We have provided the strength and conditioning program for these athletes. In the past eight years, we have had the pleasure of working with approximately 400 plus athletes. This would statistically translate into 4 to 8 ACL injuries. In the eight years, we have had only one athlete tear her ACL after beginning our strength and conditioning program. We had identified this athlete was at risk but changes in the neuromuscular control had not occurred when the injury was sustained.

Our objectives in our strength and conditioning program remain consistent:

  • Learn to refine movement and explore potential.
  • Base exercise practices on what assessments show.
  • Assess movement patterns and train accordingly.
  • Movement, not muscle, will be a constant guide.
  • Prevent injuries.
  • Maximize the athlete’s potential.

By instituting a comprehensive strength and conditioning program that focuses on addressing inherent female deficits in neuromuscular control, we have supported the research that this training can reduce ACL injuries.

Sports are inherently risky. We cannot prevent all injuries but many non-contact injuries are preventable. If you are interested in having Momentum work with your team or have questions about training or the management of injuries, we would consider it a privilege to assist you.