House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today's column is written by Sharryn Jones, a physical therapist at Sutter Coast Hospital.
As basketball season continues, it's worth noting there are some important differences between the sexes that should be considered during athletic training.
Studies show that females have a higher tendency towards ACL injures for several reasons. First of all, females tend to have a narrower groove in the knee where the ACL passes through. This can equal more force on the ACL, increasing the risk of injury.
The shape of the groove can also contribute to ACL injury. The
smaller A-shaped notch present in some women can contribute to
non-contact ACL injuries.
Also, females tend to have wider hips, which can lead to "knock knee"
alignment. This alignment puts a lateral force on the knee, thus
increasing the stress on the ACL.
In addition, females tend to display decreased active muscle
stiffness as compared with males. Studies have found that females tend
to use the quadriceps muscle to stabilize the knee and less hamstring
force, whereas males engage the hamstring more. Studies have also found
that females demonstrate less hip and knee flexion with cutting/jumping
maneuvers than males.
This is why it is important for female athletes especially to engage
in preventative program to decrease the risk of ACL injuries. While
these programs cannot affect the structural alignments, they can improve
upon the muscular stability and neuromuscular retraining.
Some key components of the programs include core stability, jump or
plyometric training, balance training and sport specific training.
Core strength has been shown to have a direct influence on lower
extremity mechanics and performance. It is especially important with the
female athlete who may present with a weak core, contributing to the
already altered mechanics of the lower extremity.
Jump or plyometric training involves teaching proper landing
technique to decrease the peak ground reaction forces and reduce the
lateral force on the knee. Balance exercises address proprioception and
neuromuscular response. Finally, specificity of the sport is essential
to ensure that there is carry over from the practice to the court or
While there are several reasons why females have a tendency toward
ACL injuries, incorporating a good preventative program can help reduce
the chance of injury. If the female athlete has already experienced an
injury, it is important the she follow through with the rehabilitation
to avoid further injury or a new injury.
Physical therapists are knowledgeable in preventative programs for
sports and can help you put one together a program that works for you.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Email suggestions for future House Calls columns to Beth Liles at Sutter Coast Hospital, firstname.lastname@example.org