As a woman, your body is very different from a man’s. This has its advantages as well as disadvantages, especially when it comes to injury. Keep reading to learn why females are more prone to ACL injuries and how you can prevent them.

ACL injuries are common when it comes to playing sports. Athletes in sports like basketball, football, or soccer are at risk for this type of injury. But did you know your chances of an ACL injury are also higher if you’re a female?

At Prairie Garden Medical, our team offers comprehensive care for sports injuries like ACL tears. Leading our team are Dr. Joel Tupper and Dr. Daniel Jones. Both doctors specialize in primary care and orthopedic surgery, offering you excellent treatment.

The facts on ACL injuries
Your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in your knee joint. Along with your posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and lateral collateral ligament, your ACL keeps your knee joint from slipping out or moving incorrectly.

An ACL injury happens when the ligament stretches beyond its capacity or tears from trauma to the knee. This often happens in sports requiring you to pivot or make quick turns, putting too much pressure on the joint if you’re not careful, and resulting in an ACL tear.

There are different grades of ACL injuries, ranging from mild to severe. Mild injuries often involve stretching of the ligament, while severe injuries cause the ACL to tear completely. There are several symptoms related to this injury, including:

  • Pain in the joint
  • Swelling
  • Instability of your knee
  • A popping sensation or sound
  • Decreased range of motion

If you’re playing sports and experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to sit out and seek immediate medical care. And did you know that your chances of having an ACL injury increase just because you’re a girl?

Females and ACL injuries — What’s the link?
Female and male bodies differ when it comes to physical aspects. There’s the obvious difference in sex characteristics and facial hair, which is why women are more susceptible to ACL tears.

There are several reasons why this is true, mainly because of physical differences. The disadvantages that make women more prone to ACL injuries are:

Women don’t have as much testosterone as men, the hormone essential for muscle strength and density. Estrogen also plays a role in the risk of an ACL tear as it fluctuates throughout your monthly cycle.

High estrogen contributes to your ligaments and tendons becoming loose, which is a huge factor in ACL injuries.

Physical differences
Men and women are built differently, and women have much less muscle mass than men. This puts women at risk for injury, especially around the knee joint. There isn’t as much muscle around the female knee, which helps your ACL stabilize the joint.

Women tend to jump, pivot, and land differently than men. Combined with other factors, this puts excess pressure on your tendons and ligaments, especially your ACL.

Prevention strategies for women
The good news is that you can effectively prevent ACL injuries if you take a few critical steps. The team at Prairie Garden Medical helps you understand how to keep your ACL safe and healthy with the following tips:

Focus on flexibility
Tight muscles are more prone to injury, especially in your legs. Focusing on a mix of flexibility and strength keeps your body ready for physical activity and lowers your chances of an ACL tear.

Strengthen key muscles
As a woman, your hamstrings and gluteal muscles play a role in protecting your ACL. Make sure to focus on these and other muscles that decrease your chances of injury.

Hone your technique
Every sport and activity has a good technique you should follow. While it’s not foolproof, practicing good technique does reduce your risk of hurting your knee.

Rest when you’re tired
Pushing yourself too hard when not well rested usually results in careless mistakes. This increases your chances of an ACL injury. If you’re tired, get plenty of rest and don’t work through exhaustion.

Make sure you warm up before you start any activities. This increases blood flow to your muscles and tendons and improves overall flexibility.

If you’re worried about your ACL, don’t hesitate to contact Prairie Garden Medical to schedule an appointment today. You can also request a consultation using our convenient online booking feature.