Our final blog on the female athlete and ACL injury details how the combination of poor core control and knee and hip strength can result in throwing off the entire trunk, sending the body and its weight one way, whilst the vulnerable knee get left behind!
But why do females have more trouble with controlling their trunks (and therefore their knees) relative to males? As females mature, they also increase body mass and carry proportionally more fat body mass than their male counterparts. Their centre of mass is also now higher off the ground and therefore harder to control and balance. After the adolescent growth spurt, males get what is called a “neuromuscular spurt” where they progress in muscular development and become proportionately more powerful. In females however, the ratio between the size of their body and the power output of their body basically stays the same after a growth spurt and does not adapt to the increased demands of a bigger, more mature body.
This now means that whilst moving in the air or when changing direction, the muscles that make up the core (abdominals, hip and pelvic muscles) of a female athlete will struggle to control and coordinate the top half, placing more strain through the lower limbs to hold her upright. With the added pace of a match coupled with fatigue or the gentle nudge of an opponent, we unfortunately see a recipe for ACL disaster.
In summary, the 3 types of movement patterns presented through our blogs each make up a potentially hazardous mechanism in which ACL injury can occur. Although these same mechanisms can occur in both male and female athletes, the exaggeration of the trunk and lower limb positioning in landing and change of direction is much greater in females, placing them at a much higher risk. For those who are involved in sports such as Australian Rules Football and Soccer, it is a great idea to get an assessment and overall summary of your movement, as early identification of poor movement patterns and jumping/landing technique could allow for specific strength and athletic performance programs to be implemented, in hope to reduce the risk of ACL injuries from occurring throughout your career!
Let us know what you have thought of our mini ACL blog series! With enough interest, we may even unlock some of our secrets for the best training drills to help improve in each of these areas!