Research shows female athletes are eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts, according the experts at Gaylord Specialty Hospital.
“The injury we tend to see a lot in a young female athletes is an ACL,” said physical therapist Amy Morocco. “Sometimes that combined with a tear in the MCL and meniscus.”
The injuries Morocco and other therapists see vary, with the knee at the top of the list. Girls ACL’s tend to be at higher risk. It’s how they’re built.
“Young female athletes have really strong quads, they attach to the front of the shin bone if they are very strong,” Morocco said. “What happens is, if these muscles contract, it pulls forward on the lower part of the leg and it’s exactly how an ACL injury accrues.”
Why females have stronger quads is up for debate. One theory is that women decelerate and cut while running in a more erect position. Whatever the reason, the majority of ACL injuries are of the non contact variety.
At Gaylord specialists work to prevent and treat disaster. Adam Williams is a licensed sports metrics trainer. Getting to the females before injury does is Williams’ job.
Assessing individual athletes leads to a personal training plan. Williams works with athletes from 10 years old up 21.
The earlier he can began strength and conditioning, the better. “It’s the first scientifically proven program to help decrease non contact ACL tears in female athletes,” Williams said.
If you can prevent them, you can treat them. Therapist Eric Lagoy sees patients pre-and post-surgery, laying out their road to full recovery.
Treading lightly until the athlete heals is a must.
“General guidelines are for the ligament to heal to the bone. We don’t want to overstress that ligament and have it rupture,” La Goy said.
“Injuries are going to happen and it’s our job to get them back to their level of function,” he said.