This blog goes out to all of my friends and patients with daughters who play sports. There is a higher rate of ACL injuries in girls who play soccer and basketball compared to boys. The ACL is an important ligament in the knee that stabilizes the leg during rotational movements. One theory as to why females are more susceptible to ACL injuries than males is based on hormones. Estrogen and relaxin increase the laxity of the knee ligaments and place teenage girls at a disadvantage on the field or court. There is some disagreement as to when during the menstrual cycle girls are most susceptible. One study found that injuries occurred during the menstrual phase of the cycle, while another study found that, during ovulation, females were three times more likely to injure the ACL. Either way, coaches can help prevent these types of debilitating injuries by training their female athletes properly.
Here are the top three things that coaches can do:
1. Work on strength training for the hamstring muscles. These muscles imitate the ACL action of keeping the tibia (lower leg) from shifting too far forward over the femur (upper leg).
2. Teach proper landing techniques and cutting maneuvers. Girls should be taught to bend at the hips and knees as they land and to maintain proper alignment of the knee cap over the second toe.
3. Do balance training (proprioceptive training). Check out This Site for more information and great training ideas.