ACL tears are common knee injuries, especially in sports where people need to change direction quickly. While both men and women can get these injuries, studies show that women tend to get them more often. Let's find out why.
Dr. Himanshu Gupta, Joint Specialist, Orthopedic Surgeon and Founder of AmiCare Hospital says, "Female athletes tear their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) at an increasingly higher rate in sports such as basketball, team handball, and soccer. In recent years, girls' sports involvement has grown significantly. The rapidly increasing number of female participants has an impact on the number of injuries. Despite changes in the male-to-female ratio over the past ten years, the rate of ACL injuries in comparable sports like basketball and soccer has remained extremely high. In basketball and soccer, the ratio of female to male players is 3.5 times higher and 2.8 times higher, respectively."
Neuromuscular factors appear to be the most important reason for the higher rate of ACL injuries in females compared to males, he adds.
According to some studies, it is found that 26 of 37 athletes tore their ACLs during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Among athletes who self-reported their menstrual histories, 10 of these 27 injuries occurred during the few days before and the 2 days after the onset of menses.
Reasons why women are more prone to ACL tear
Dr. Gupta points out some factors that make women more prone to ACL tear than men:
How the bodies work
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Men's and women's bodies differ slightly from one another. Women typically have smaller knee spaces and larger hips. Activities like twisting and jumping may cause their knees to function in a way that increases stress on the ACL.
How you move
How you move your body also plays a major part in ACL damage. Women's and men's bodies react differently to certain things like stopping suddenly or jumping. Women may use some muscles more than others, which can make the ACL more vulnerable to injuries.
How the ligaments work
The bodies' ligaments act as sturdy rubber bands to hold the joints together. ACLs in women are often weaker and smaller than those in men. This implies that their ACLs may be more prone to tearing when they perform activities that put stress on the knee.
Assess how you move
Scientists have discovered ways to assess how people move to determine if they are at risk for ACL tear. These tests look at how you use your muscles and if you have any imbalances that could lead to injuries. Early detection of these problems allows you to address them and reduce the chance of ACL tears.
How to reduce the risk of ACL injuries in women
Dr. Gupta says, "Experts have created specialized workouts and training regimens to assist and reduce the risk of ACL injuries in women. These exercises teach proper movement patterns and help to build knee-supporting muscles. When women do these exercises, they can be less likely to hurt their ACLs."
"Women have a higher risk of ACL tears due to a mix of body differences, the way they move, and the strength of their ligaments. First, you need to understand the factors that can help you better to prevent these injuries. By using the right exercises and training, women can stay safe and active in sports and other activities," he adds.