Why ACL injuries are more prevalent in females

VIENNA, Va. (WUSA9) -- 17 year-old Heidi Chicas from Falls Church visits her rehab clinic twice per week. She is recovering from a torn ACL in her right leg, with fresh memories of the "POP" sound that heard when the injury that happened in May. It happened while playing soccer, this is her second ACL tear, she injured her left leg last year.

Chicas says, "I really wanted to continue to play soccer, that's why I went back to playing soccer after my first injury, but now with the second injury I don't think I am going back."

Up to 70 percent of ACL tears happen with no contact at all. It happens way more often in teenage girls than boys.

Dr. Robert Najarian of Inova Orthopedics and Sports Medicine says, "Depending on the studies that you look at girls have anywhere from a two to ten-fold increase in the risk of tearing their ACL than their male counterparts do.

Dr. Najarian says female body alignment is different from males. The pelvis is wider which gives a larger angle from the middle of the body down to the feet.

"So these higher angles put their knees at a relatively increased position to potentially tear their ACL's," adds Dr. Najarian.

Females tend to be more quadriceps dominant, that's the muscle in front of the leg opposed to hamstring dominant. That also increases the potential for an ACL tear.

So, how can this be avoided? Research shows that a good neuromuscular training program can work wonders. They focus on certain activities with proper jumping and landing. This lowers the risk of ACL injuries to females and males. Good cutting techniques and stretching also makes a huge difference in preventing ACL injuries.

Chicas says, "Like if you forget to stretch your muscles tense up and then that's more of a possibility that you will get injured. Because I remembered for my right knee, I came late for the game and I only did like a semi-stretch and I guess that's why."

Heidi has five more months of rehab. When she is finished she will play soccer only for recreation. Now she plans to focus on diving.


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