Blog Series- Why are Female Athletes Are More Prone to ACL Injuries? (Part 4)
Congrats on making it through the full series! In Part 4 of this blog series, we’ll tie everything together so you will be well on your way to being faster, stronger, and smarter than before!
Miss the early parts? Check out the links below to catch up!
While female athletes have an increased number of risk factors; don’t forget that up to 70% of ACL injuries are non-contact in nature , a common example being that an athlete might pivot or slow down and experience an ACL injury. Many of these non-contact injuries can be prevented when implementing a proper strength and conditioning program with a focus on strength training, jumping, landing and cutting.
When Can Strength Training Be Started?
All female athletes should be in strength training and can start as a youth. The good news is this type of training helps keep youth athletes healthy, will benefit their athletic abilities and develop long term habits to keep them healthy throughout their lives . Strength training is also important for athletes as it helps them to work on their biomechanics, become more aware of their bodies in space and decrease injury risk. Female athletes should be specifically focused on increasing core strength in addition to doing functional leg exercises with a trained expert to help with their form and technique . In particular, hamstring and glute strength can be extremely important for the female athlete to help with their quad dominance issues, and overall hips and core strength can be essential to combat the weakness associated with having wider hips. Exercises using your Hip Abductors are very important for these athletes.
What Type of Areas Should My Training Be Focused On?
Another important training method for female athletes is to learn and practice proper jumping, landing, and turning motions as well as safely accelerating, decelerating and changing directions at different speeds [3, 4]. These can all be replicated to the desired sport and level of intensity. Regular skills training mimicking the athlete’s sport and position can prepare them for the movements and reactions they need to make instantaneously on their field, allowing for better mechanics and a decreased injury risk. This type of training is more advanced and is best done with trained professionals and after the girls have completed off- season strength training work.
While there is a lot you can do to prevent ACL injury, it is important to remember the basics. Most college athletes receive specialized strength training and aren’t quite as at risk as the middle school and high school girls. In middle and high school, it tends to be less organized and funding and resources for additional strength coaching usually goes to the men’s teams.
For these younger athletes, starting simple is still a great and important implementation for injury prevention to help these ladies.
Simply adding in core exercises like planks, side planks, and sit ups is effective. Integrating a proper dynamic warm up, a cool down utilizing foam rolling and a running program where athletes run and jog in multiple directions instead of just forward is also a great start. Even simple exercises geared towards strengthening the glutes and core like doing banded monster walks is a crucial piece for these 10-17 year old ladies. Practicing proper mechanics, learning from strength training and applying them into sport-like movements can be essential for female athletes to enhance their natural abilities, decrease their compensations and increase their reaction time and ability to move around more safely and efficiently in sport. Whether your sport is basketball, soccer, football, skiing, hiking, surfing or even Olympic weightlifting; there are many things you can be doing to protect your knees.
Do your research, know your risks and take action!
For more information on these topics, find my book Surviving 7: The Expert’s Guide to ACL Surgery on Amazon.
9x Surgery Survivor/Strength Coach/Author/Athlete
B.S., CPT, CES, PES, FMS, MWod Pro
Jenna Minecci is a passionate Personal Trainer and Strength Coach dedicated to helping others prevent injury, prepare for surgery and recover exceptionally from any surgery they have. After having 4 ACL reconstructions fail on her as a teenager, she has now had 9 surgeries and counting. Her goal is to educate and empower others facing difficult surgeries and recovery journeys. She currently works at Lifetime Fitness in Atlanta, Georgia where she specializes in Corrective Exercise, Knee Rehabilitation and ACL Injury Prevention.
She is also the author of the book Surviving 7: The Expert’s Guide to ACL Surgery.
Follow Jenna on social media @Jennactive.
Have more questions about your upcoming surgery? Sign up today for your free personalized pre-op consult with a Orthopedic/Spine Nurse Practitioner or Medical Device Specialist today!
Voskanian, N. (2013, June). ACL Injury prevention in female athletes: review of the literature and practical considerations in implementing an ACL prevention program. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3702781/
Nessler, T., Denney, L., & Sampley, J. (2017, September). ACL Injury Prevention: What Does Research Tell Us? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28656531
Hewett, T. E., Lindenfeld, T. N., Riccobene, J. V., & Noyes, F. R. (1999). The effect of neuromuscular training on the incidence of knee injury in female athletes. A prospective study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10569353
Noyes, F. R., Barber-Westin, S. D., Smith, S. T., Campbell, T., & Garrison, T. T. (2012, March). A training program to improve neuromuscular and performance indices in female high school basketball players. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22289699