Women More Likely Than Men to Injure Knees

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Knee injuries can happen to any athlete. But women are more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men. And young college and high school girls suffer the most.

Soccer star Alex Short had to cut her season short when she tore her ACL.

"I was just running on it and planted and just my knee buckled on me," she said.

Young women like Alex are four to ten-times more likely to injure their ACL's than men.

"Female athletes have weak hip flexors, weak hip abductors, and with that their knees kind of cave in," said Stephanie Smith, a personal trainer.

Girls like Alex who suffer an ACL injury before age 18 have a 17% chance of re-injury. Athletes are trained to rely more on their hamstring muscles than quadriceps to protect the knee. Try these three tests at home to see if you're at risk.

First, the double leg jump. Start in the squat position, then jump straight up and down. You want to be able to jump and stick into place without wobbling or having your feet or knees turn in.

Second, the single barrier hop.

"We jump up and over, and make sure the foot is sticking the landing the entire time," said Smith.

Finally, try the hop, hop, stick.

"If you see the knee kind of collapsing inward, that's going to be due to some hip weakness. So you want to make sure everything is correctly aligned," said Smith.

If you're out of balance, work on your coordination, muscle strength, and core like Alex, who says her leg is getting stronger after surgery.

"It's getting better and better every day."

Two-thirds of all ACL injuries are the result of an athlete making a sudden move or changing direction. That's why neuromuscular training is so important to prevent injury.
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