Turning away from ACL tears

March 18, 2004, midnight | By Melanie Thompson | 18 years, 2 months ago

It should have been the perfect vacation; my team fought our way to the championship game in a major Florida sports competition, and only something extraordinarily awful could have destroyed my bliss. But with a split-second hyperextension of my leg and a popping sensation in my knee, I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), becoming one of the 20,000 high-school female athletes who experience severe knee injuries each year.

While male athletes are three times more likely to suffer a sports injury than girls are, sporty females are four times more likely to have a knee injury, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

When an athlete pivots or lands a jump, the force on the ACL may cause it to tear. Though ideally the hamstrings are 60 to 70 percent as strong as the quadriceps, female hamstrings are closer to 45 percent to 55 percent as strong. The lack of strength in this vital muscle combined with the fact that women are more dependent on their quadriceps when maneuvering on the playing field than men makes female athletes more vulnerable to injury.

A study from the Santa Monica Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Research Foundation found that effective preventive procedures can decrease non-contact ACL tears by 88 percent. Exercises that can help build up muscle strength include:

  • Single-leg curl: Crouch on the ground, head facing down, supported by the elbows and one knee; bring the non-supporting leg toward the head, keeping the knee bent, then bring the leg down and repeat.
  • Straight-leg deadlifts: Stand straight up with barbells at the side, then lean forward, keeping the head up, until parallel with the floor, before moving up again.
  • Lunges: Step forward two feet with one leg and lower the upper body while bending the leg. Push back up and repeat with the other leg.

Information compiled from The Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center and The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma.

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Melanie Thompson. Melanie Thompson is currently a junior in CAP and a page editor on Silver Chips. She enjoys hot baths, appearing aside famous stars in movies, and watching Agent Vaughn on Alias. A little known fact about Melanie is that she is a huge fan of … More »

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