16:58 PM

ACL Injuries Cast a Shadow Over the Women’s World Cup—and Girls Soccer

The Wall Street Journal reports that female athletes are at greater risk of ACL injuries in an interview with Andrew D. Pearle, MD, Chief of Sports Medicine at HSS. 

“We did a study showing a 300% increase in ACL injuries in adolescents and teenagers,” said Dr. Pearle of a study that ended in 2009. “So this is an incredible epidemic.”

The problem is especially acute at the youth level. ACL injuries are as much as six times more common among female high school soccer players than among male players. A girl who plays soccer year-round has a 16% chance of injuring her ACL during her high school years, explained Dr. Pearle.

The good news for amateur players is that half or more ACL injuries are preventable with regularly performed exercises called neuromuscular training, Dr. Pearle said. HSS and the Aspen Institute recently formed the National ACL Injury Coalition to encourage their adoption.

In general, several factors are thought to put female athletes at higher risk of ACL injuries,  explained Dr. Pearle. Female athletes tend to move their knees inward when landing from a jump rather than keeping them in line with their toes. They’re more knee-dominant in their change-of-direction movements rather than engaging the muscles around their knees and hips. Their joints are generally looser than those of male athletes. And women and girls have less muscle mass around the knee to reduce force on the joint.

Read the full article at WSJ.com.