Study Says Young Girls at Higher Risk for ACL Injury Than Boys

  • Posted on: Aug 29 2014
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A new study suggests that young girls are more prone to ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries than boys. The study reports that lack of physical training for young athletes and puberty are to blame. Let’s take a closer look at the link between ACL injuries and young athletes.

What causes ACL injuries? Sports that involve quick stopping and turning, such as soccer, volleyball, softball and gymnastics, may cause a sudden “pop” in the knee that tears the ligament that runs diagonally across the knee joint. ACL injuries are particularly painful and dangerous, as this ligament connects the upper and lower leg bones to the knee with three other ligaments.

Why are girls more likely to suffer from an ACL injury than boys? This study reports that girls are between 2.5 and 6.2 times more likely to have an ACL injury than boys while playing the same sport. This risk increases for girls between ages 12-13, but not until ages 14-15 for boys.  According to the study, puberty is to blame. Girls enter puberty at an earlier age than boys. During puberty, the body grows at a rapid rate and sometimes muscles and ligaments don’t grow as fast as bone during this time. In girls, the onset of higher hormone production causes ligaments to be soft or less strong. In boys, the rapid production of testosterone in the body actually supports muscle power to support the accelerated bone growth.

The study also notes that the children now participate in one sport year-round rather than participating in different sports during different seasons. This may be another factor causing over-use injuries.

What can athletes do to prevent ACL injuries? The best way to prevent ACL injuries is to strengthen the knees through exercises focusing on the core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Core strength, even in younger children is essential to healthy joints and equally controlled weight distribution.  Kids also need to take a break from time to time, and should switch up the sport they’re playing per season.

Additionally, for children who are competitive athletes enrolled in intensive sports programs,  it is beneficial for them to meet with a physical therapist or personal sports trainer so that the child’s strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated and safely improved upon.

Sports Medicine in Worcester

For more information about ACL injury prevention or repair contact us today.  Our offices are located in Worcester, proudly serving the surrounding areas.  Schedule your appointment today at (508) 363-6363.  We hope to hear from you soon.


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Posted in: ACL, Injury Prevention Tips, News and Updates, Physical Therapy, Sports Injuries, Sports Medicine

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Tel: 508.363.6363

123 Summer St. Suite 520, Worcester, MA 01608 508.363.6363