A recent study has uncovered new reasoning for why female athletes may be more prone to non-contact ACL injuries than male athletes. Understanding the findings of this study leads one to understand the even greater importance of functional strength training to prevent ACL injuries.
The study: “An Association of Lateral Knee Sagittal Anatomic Factors with Non-Contact ACL Injury: Sex or Geometry” was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The findings: a rounded tibial plateau(the upper part of the shin at the knee joint), which is more common in women than men, may predispose an athlete to an ACL tear. The study found that most of the women in the study had a shorter and rounder tibial plateau. Only some of the men in the study had this trait and those who did had suffered ACL injuries already. The result of this rounded plateau basically makes for an unstable knee..it is a round surface resting on a round surface-like a ball on a ball--seemingly inherently unstable.
The joint surfaces and the ligaments are the primary restraints to knee injuries. These are traits which can not be changed. The secondary restraint of muscle strength is a factor which we can increase and is probably the greatest control of destiny for the female athlete.
Application of this knowledge is important for both the strength and conditioning coach working with athletes to prevent ACL injuries as well as the physical therapist working with the ACL reconstruction patient (athletes and non athletes alike).
Functional strength training can replicate the rotational and tri-planar forces of the demands of sport, work , and everyday activity. Training in three planes of motion and utilizing the kinetic chain to strengthen and lengthen musculature can protect the ACL from injury.
To learn more about functional strength training click here.