Girls Rule and Boys Drool: When it Comes to ACL Tears


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        As an athlete the fear of being seriously injured is always in the back of one's mind. One of the most terrifying injuries is the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) tear. This injury can require surgery and months of rehab. Most athletes take up to a year to get back to full strength, while many never fully recover. What makes this injury even scarier is the fact that more often than not it is a non-contact injury. That means simply cutting the wrong way or even landing wrong can completely tear the ACL ligament in the knee. 
       I've seen many of my friends and teammates struggle with this life-changing event. One thing I noticed was that the majority of the people I knew who had torn their ACL had one major thing in common: they were women. So I had to ask myself if this was just a coincidence or do women have a higher chance of torn ACLs than men do.
      acl.jpg
     According to Timothy E. Hewett Ph. D., the increased number of female athletes over the past decade (after Title IX) is one of the factors in the amount of women ACL tears. This doesn't cut it for me because I still noticed the drastic amount of females compared to men, not just an increase in women injuries. I researched a little further and discover that the knee contains a intercondylar that the ACL ligament moves within. Women have a smaller notch which causes less movement for the ACL. This would explain why it is 2-5 times more likely for women to have ACL tears than men.
    I found more reasoning on Science Daily, where an article discusses the "geometry" of the knee being different in men and women. A study was held in which ACL injuries and non injuries (as a control group) were examined in both men and women. It was found that the injuries in women showed the top of the shin bone which is right near the ACL ligament, was a lot shorter and more rounded. This almost makes the joint a "ball on a ball" type of movement which explains the instability of the knee.
     Luckily for any female athlete reading this, there are many exercises you can do to prevent these injuries. Although the data isn't on our side we can still do everything in our power to help prevent this life-changing injury. 

1 Comment

Emma,
I played four sports back in high school. Thankfully a stress fracture was the only injury I had. But like you, I've noticed there were always girls having ACL tears so this post definitely caught my attention! Many girls I knew who suffered from this injury never fully recovered and had to give up their athletics. It was definitely hard for them to face reality and give up something they had such a passion for. Why is it that girls have "weaker" knees when they have wider hips? The anatomy just doesn't make any sense!

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