ACL Injuries in Female Athletes

Kevin Turner- Turner Strength & Performance

woman in blue and white basketball jersey holding brown basketball

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With more opportunities for female athletes and trends toward year-round sports participation, the tendency to specialize in one sport earlier on has put female athletes at 6 times the risk of suffering a non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury than boys ( Non-contact ACL injuries are more common in sports like softball, soccer, volleyball and basketball. “Knee injuries are the most common cause of permanent disability in female high school basketball players accounting for up to 91% of season-ending injuries and 94% of injuries requiring surgery” ( These sports involve rapidly stopping, landing from a jump, cutting or decelerating quickly with a change of direction.

A few movements that put more stress on the ACL are as follows:

  • Landing from the jumping position with insufficient knee and hip flexion. (landing more erect)
  • Increased knee valgus. (knees caving inward)
  • Flat foot landing from a jumping position.
  • Greater Quadricep to Hamstring strength ratio.

Four ways to help reduce the risk of an ACL injury are:

  • Effective leg muscle strength training along with core training.
  • Effective balance and speed training.
  • Proper coaching on jumping and landing so as to avoid straight leg landing.
  • Proper footwear that minimizes rotational friction avoiding injury but also allows proper traction to allow planting, cutting and stopping.

There are other issues than can contribute to ACL injuries that were not addressed in this article for the sake of brevity. As always, I encourage you to proactively research reliable sources and if needed to consult a doctor.  Developing high levels of fitness, with proper training, will create better athletes while preserving joint integrity.