Tears of the ACL or the Anterior Cruciate Ligament are occurring at an alarming frequency. Women are more susceptible to tearing their ACL due to a number of variables.
One of the reasons that women are at higher risk for an ACL tear is the alignment of their lower limb (knee) when they perform certain maneuvers such as landing,cutting or pivoting. Certain alignment patterns increase a woman’s risk for developing an ACL tear because of the stress that these leg positions put on the ACL.
Many of the successful training programs for ACL tear prevention focuses on retraining athletes on proper landing, cutting and twisting mechanics. Unfortunately, the research on body weight exercises and many other modes of exercise do not appear to influence the rate of ACL tears.
This recently published paper reveals that hip strengthening had a significant role in improving a female athlete’s lower limb alignment during sports. Not only does this paper reveal that hip strengthening can improve the alignment of a female athlete’s lower extremity during sports; This paper shows that posterior chain, or hip strengthening will improve the mechanics during unanticipated cutting, pivoting and landing moments. This is important. That means that the athlete was not under controlled testing conditions, but instead was performing tasks more likely to be seen during competition.
This paper adds to a growing body of evidence that we can influence the risk of ACL tears in at risk populations. Nothing could be more important for keeping our children healthy and active. An ACL injury can have devastating consequences on a lifelong basis. So, focus on posterior chain, hip strengthening in your female athletes at high risk for ACL injuries.
I came across this paper on the website of an Orthopedist from across the pond. Dr Andy Franklyn-Miller and his colleagues are doing a wonderful job in evaluating and sharing the literature in the realm of preventing and managing many sports related injuries. I encourage you to subscribe to his mailing list. It is rather technical, but for any allied health professional it is well worth your time.