Female athletes are eight times more likely to tear their ACL than male athletes. And while there are several anatomical differences between men and women, research shows the main reason women are more likely to tear their ACL is due to a weakness of the muscles that support the knee.
By strengthening and training the muscles that support the knee, some studies have reported a decrease in the rate of ACL injuries in female athletes by as high as 90 percent — essentially reducing the risk of women to that of men. Many of these training programs include a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises with landing drills, which can be incorporated in an athlete’s prepractice warmup.
While research is still ongoing to determine the true efficacy of these strengthening and training programs, previous studies have shown the following:
- The most effective programs incorporate a component of strengthening, flexibility and plyometric and proximal (hip and core) strengthening.
- The greatest risk reduction occurs between the ages of 12 to 18.
- Compliance with the program (performing the exercises daily) seems to increase the effectiveness of the prevention programs.
As part of our outreach program, our experts in the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins provide ACL injury awareness seminars and workshops focusing on teaching the latest information and techniques for injury prevention. These programs are particularly suited for coaches and athletes at the collegiate, high school and junior high school level. For more information or to schedule a workshop with one of our experts, please call 410-955-6825.
ACL Injuries | Q&A with Dr. Jay Lee
R. Jay Lee, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery’s Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics, discusses anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. He explains how the injuries occur, signs and symptoms of an injury, treatment options and how to prevent an ACL injury.
ACL Surgery | Michelle's Story
While pivoting for a kick during a martial arts grading examination, Michelle felt a painful pop in her knee. Michelle went to her local doctor and learned she had torn her ACL. She knew that surgery was probably her only option to get back to her active lifestyle again. Michelle found comfort in Johns Hopkins, specifically sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Cosgarea, M.D.