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In Australia, research shows that girls and women are two to ten times more likely to rupture their ACL when participating in high-risk sports, such as AFL and Netball. This statistic came to life when 4 young AFL Women’s players went down with season-ending ACL injuries in the first 4 weeks of the AFLW 2017 season.
So what is the role of an ACL and why are we seeing an increasing number of these injuries in young female athletes?
The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is a very important structure that acts to stabilise the knee. It is a rope-like ligament right in the centre of your knee that connects your upper and lower leg. Athletes most commonly tear their ACL during pivoting, changing direction and stopping suddenly, all important movements in AFL, netball and basketball.
But WHY are women at a higher risk than men?
Several factors, including anatomical, hormonal and strength variations may play an interrelated role in the greater risk for females. Women typically have a wider pelvis than men, resulting in more of an inclination for their knee to fall inwards when they twist and land; increasing the strain placed on the ACL. Given the nature of sports such as netball and AFL, jumping and changing direction are a key elements to the game; with these movements requiring good strength and stability of the knee joints.
Given the structural make up of ones body is an unmodifiable risk factor, a greater amount of research is now focusing on the things WE can do to reduce the risk of injury.
What is so worrying about the incidence of ACL injuries is research shows most of them are PREVENTABLE!
There are many programs targeted at improving movement patterns and strengthening muscles around the knee, resulting in between a 50-80% reduced risk of injury. Not only this, but prevention is far cheaper than having an ACL reconstruction. These programs typically involve exercises that can easily be incorporated into training and daily function. Some of the exercises include lunges, single leg squats, jump/land training and exposure to game pressures experienced in play.
Girls, its your turn to take control of your body and getting stronger to prevent these injuries from occurring.
In fact, we will be running an ACL FUNK-TIONAL PREVENTION CLASS over at our Pursue Health clinic in Highett. Run by a Physiotherapist, the class will be targeting neuromuscular and strength training that will provide you with the tools to ensure YOU are stronger than your ACL.
To book in to the ACL Prevention Class or for any further information, contact Pursue Health on 03 9131 4977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.