The rapid development and monetization within women’s sport over the last few decades has seen a massive increase in ACL related injuries, both in a contact and non-contact setting. A recent post by ABC.net highlighted that this year alone there were 10 season ending ACL injuries in the NRLW, 9 in the AFLW, and in one season alone more than half of the Olympique Lyonnais Women’s Soccer Team had sustained an ACL injury.
Additionally, Dr Jobe Shatrov, a well renowned orthopaedic specialist, stated that in some studies the risk of women’s ACL injuries is shown to be eight times greater than that of male athletes. So why is this the case? Well to begin, the orientation of the hip and knee differs from males to females.
Women are more at risk due to these intrinsic anatomical factors, which ultimately increase the chance of exposing them to the mechanisms involved in ACL ruptures, such as anterior tibial translation, knee valgus, and internal rotation of the femur, than their male counterparts. To put this into perspective, many of the involved components of running, jumping, landing, and pivoting, all consist of most of the mechanisms as mentioned above, and hence it is important to train the body to be able to absorb and produce forces to not only allow an athlete to perform better in their chosen sport, but also to prevent ACL injuries from occurring.
In soccer particularly, research indicates that with a dedicated pre-season conditioning program, the reductions in not only ACL injuries alone, but lower limb injuries are seen to be statistically significant in both male and female populations. Many of the programs involved in ACL injury management/prevention involve strength, static and dynamic balance, proprioception, plyometric and agility-based exercises, as well as other running and sport specific cardiovascular drills.
We highly recommend women to book in for pre season training with these facts in mind. We run ACL prevention programs at Vector Health, with a screening prior to getting you in the gym to make sure we can tailor a program to you so you can receive optimal advantages in your training as no two people are the same.