When video footage of ACL injuries are studied, there are clear components that occur and lead to injury. Some of these components however are exaggerated in females, resulting in increased vulnerability and higher chances of ACL injuries in sports that involve jumping and change of direction such as Australian Rules Football and Soccer.
Over 3 blogs, we will discuss the common mechanisms in which the ‘at risk’ female athlete lands, contributing to this increase chance of ACL injury.
Part 1. Dynamic Knee Valgus
Can you picture what it looked like last time you saw an athlete go down with a knee injury? The knee falling or buckling inwards and across the body as they landed from a jump or tried to change direction sharply… this is called a dynamic knee valgus, and it is not great for your ACL. When this happens, it is likely that the muscles were not able to absorb the ground reaction forces of the activity, so the joint and the ligaments absorbed a high amount of the force instead.
Test this out yourself!
Have look in the mirror or record yourself on your phone - Can you keep a nice stable and straight leg while performing movements such as single leg squats or lunges? If not, don't panic! By itself, this doesn't mean you are destined for doom, but it does indicate that a strength program, incoorporating some jumping and landing technique/control work would be a great idea!
This is just the start... watch out for parts 2 and 3 of our female athlete ACL injury blog, coming out soon!