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Women's Basketball Tears Up the Knees

ACL injuries much higher among female hoopsters than their male counterparts

SUNDAY, March 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The gender gap is alive and well in women's sports.

According to Johns Hopkins University, female athletes face a much greater risk of tearing their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) than their male counterparts.

The ACL lies in the middle of the knee and prevents the shinbone from sliding out in front of the thighbone.

Tears to the ACL, which often require surgery, often happen during plays typical of basketball: sudden stops and turns or a bad landing after a jump.

No one seems to know exactly why women are more prone to the injury, but various studies have tried to shed light on the subject. It may be because women's thighbones are constructed differently or because hormonal fluctuations affect the elasticity of the tissue.

A study out of the University of California, San Diego showed that women actually activate their quadriceps more than men, which puts more pressure on the inside of the knee.

Body weight, muscle conditioning, skill level, experience and technique may also play a role -- or it might be a combination of factors.

There's no proven way to protect yourself from ACL tears, but these tips might prove useful:

  • Try exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee.
  • Some people think it's a good idea to make an effort to bend your knees when running and landing.
  • Don't run in an upright posture.

More information

For more on ACL injuries, go to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

SOURCES: Johns Hopkins University; University of California, San Diego; Women's Basketball Association
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