As part of his ongoing Women’s “Knee-Sense” Accelerate ACL Awareness Campaign, noted knee expert and published author Dr. Ronald P. Grelsamer said “The predisposition of young women who participate in organized school sports, or are in training to become professional athletes, to Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears is a very timely, yet overlooked, epidemic in our country.
Recent studies executed during the past decade indicate that the risk of female ACL injuries is 5 - 6 times greater than for males, and can begin as early as puberty for those who play sports that involve jumping, rapid pivoting, sudden stops and starts such as soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
Fortunately, there are undemanding and effective training exercises that can prevent these types of injuries.”
Orthopedists, coaches and sports researchers agree that ACL injuries cause significant health and inflated health costs. “ACL damage is often linked to repetitive strain due to overuse,” said Dr. Grelsamer, “occurring as a result of sudden stops and turns or bad landings after jumps.
Researchers attribute the discrepancy between men and women to differences in the way females jump and land, and to actual anatomical variances. Theories have most recently centered on joint laxity, and body position. Strength per se does not seem to be an issue.
"Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles while promoting balance are important. Women can re-educate their muscles to run and land from jumps more safely and lightly, with flexed knees, rather than straight knee landings which put more strain on the anterior cruciate ligaments.
Young women should also be trained to use their hamstrings rather than their quadriceps muscles; to minimize twisting as well as bending movements of the landing leg; and to roll their feet as they hit the ground."
Dr. Grelsamer advises school coaches and sports trainers to implement specific training regimes such as weight training and conditioning programs, as well as sport-specific skill drills that teach safe positioning, balance and agility.
“The sooner an answer is found, the sooner steps can be taken to bridge the gap,” stressed Dr. Grelsamer. “ACL injuries may be preventable, but women must be educated and conditioned at young ages.”
Ronald P. Grelsamer, M.D., is currently the chief of hip and knee reconstruction at Maimonides Medical Center, and a noted staff orthopedic specialist at the NYU Medical Center and Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopedic Institute.
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