Sports Medicine

Female athletes at higher risk of ACL tears

By Dipali Pathak

While most back-to-school preparations involve backpacks, pencils and other school supplies, for student athletes, they also should include core strengthening and dynamic warmups, especially for females who play soccer and basketball, according to a sports medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Among NCAA athletes, the two highest risk patient groups for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are female soccer and basketball players. There are anatomical and neuromuscular factors that put these athletes at particular risk,” said Dr. Theodore Shybut, sports medicine expert and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor.

Studies have reported that female athletes are 2 to 10 times more likely to have ACL tears than male athletes.

According to Shybut, when female athletes cut and pivot during sports such as soccer and basketball, they tend to have greater trunk motion, which produces higher rotational forces at the knee.

“What happens is her body is moving one way and the foot plants to change direction but the body keeps moving laterally, causing torque around the knee that causes it to buckle inward, twist and overload the ACL,” said Shybut.


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