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Research Analyzes ACL Tear Susceptibility Among Men and Women

Recently, researchers have turned their attention to figuring out how to prevent Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries, but doing so first requires an understanding of what makes one susceptible to this type of damage.  A tear of the ACL can throw an athlete’s entire career offtrack, and although you’re starting to see certain notable sports personalities push through such an injury more quickly than ever before, the injury is still quite serious.

The latest issue of the Journal of Athletic Training relates two studies that sought to determine the differences between men and women when it comes to being susceptible to an ACL tear.  Researchers led by a sport science assistant professor from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences of Oregon State compared jumping techniques between men and women to reach their results.

82 males and females who were physically active were asked to jump while being monitored by motion analysis technology.  Overseers watched the participants to get a sense of what their bodies looked like when they landed.

What they found was that participants of both sexes were equally as likely to land in a stiff manner.  The thought is that people have a tendency to tense up just before they’re landing, possibly to deal with the perceived impact.  What differentiates women from men, though, is that the former are more inclined to land in a knock-kneed way, their knees being drawn toward each other when the landing occurs.

In fact, females were 3.6 times as likely to land in this type of position than their male counterparts.  That’s different from usage of the quads, which was pretty similar among both males and females.  When a person’s knees come down in a knock-kneed manner, researchers worry that this could cause stress to the individual that may eventually manifest in an ACL tear.

Researchers suspect that a woman’s basic biology could be what leads to the type of landing described.  Wider hip structure may cause the knees to come down in that manner, but it will require additional research to get to the bottom of the matter with any certainty.

The lead author of the study hopes that this research, as well as additional studies focused on high school athletes that he hopes to complete, will lead to a greater understanding of how to reduce the likelihood of an ACL injury.  The thought is that such studies could inform prevention programs that can be used as a platform to teach athletes the proper way to land while engaging in various activities.


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