Women go through many things that men don’t; childbirth and menopause are just some of the few. However, women are also more susceptible to specific injuries, including their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs).
The ACL is a strong ligament in both knees that provides rotational stability and support to the knee joint. ACL injuries are common and can put you on the bench for the rest of the season.
But why are women more prone to ACL injuries than men? Alpha Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team provides expert evaluations and knowledge about ACL injuries in both men and women.
Dr. Brian Snow and Dr. Jon Thompson are our two sports medicine orthopedic specialists. Both doctors specialize in sports injuries like ACL tears and provide customized treatment for female athletes looking to return to regular activities.
Differences in a woman’s anatomy
Although women can play just about any sport that a man can, they’re unfortunately more prone to specific injuries, including ACL tears and stress fractures — but why?
Many anatomical differences between men and women start with the pelvis. A woman has a much wider pelvis than a man, which inevitably changes how the lower body handles stress.
A wider pelvis in women is for childbirth. Still, it could be better for repetitive sports and physical activity stress. It changes how the female bones align in the lower body, which stresses the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the knees and ankles.
There’s also less muscle around the knee joint in women than in men, partially because women have less testosterone than men. Testosterone is a critical hormone promoting increased muscle mass, making women more susceptible to ACL injuries.
However, women’s anatomy isn’t the only risk for ACL injuries; technique and choice of sport also play a role.
Why are women at risk for ACL injuries?
The differences in women’s anatomy are one reason they’re more at risk for ACL injuries. However, the lack of testosterone, muscle mass, and a broader pelvis increase the risk of sports injuries.
But the sport you choose also influences the chance of injuring your ACL. Any sport requires pivoting, jumping, or changing directions quickly — sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, and skiing.
Women are more at risk for an ACL injury for multiple reasons, including the lack of muscle around the knee joint and smaller tendons. Even though women can change their training and conditioning, there’s nothing they can do to change their physical makeup and hormone levels.
Lowering the risk in athletic women
Although various factors stack the odds against women, that doesn’t mean every woman is doomed to have an ACL injury.
Women need to take extra steps to condition their bodies to lower their risk of an ACL tear. A few of the tips we suggest to help prevent ACL injuries in women include the following:
Women should focus on evenly training their bodies and building muscles around crucial joints like the knees. However, training the muscles in the core and extremities is essential, as one weak spot can be detrimental to other body parts.
Coordination and neuromuscular control are essential in preventing ACL tears and other sports injuries. Specific coordination programs help women focus on quickly stabilizing the body after jumping and pivoting to prevent careless injuries.
Stretching before and after physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. Tight muscles and tendons are more prone to getting hurt.
Flexibility is as important as coordination and strength, allowing your body to stay loose and avoid painful ACL tears and other injuries.
Practice good technique
Although good technique won’t always prevent injury, it helps keep you off the disabled list. Work with your coach and our team to develop the proper strategies for your specific sport to keep your body from getting unnecessarily hurt.
Get enough rest
Making mistakes and getting hurt when you’re overtired or highly fatigued is easy. Although practice makes perfect, giving your body time to rest is crucial to keep your ACL and other muscles and tendons healthy.
After suffering a knee injury or ACL tear, don’t hesitate to call us at one of our three locations in McKinney, Prosper, and Sherman, Texas, to schedule a consultation or request an appointment on the website.