MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Why do women tear their ACLs more than men?

Date: Wed Sep 29 15:29:20 1999
Posted By: Sturdy McKee, Faculty, Department of Occupational Therapy, Dominican College
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 938468485.An

Women do appear to tear their ACLs more than men.

An incidence report from several seasons ago from the ACC listed 20 ACL 
tears in female basketball players compared to 4 for men.  A few possible 
reasons are: 

1. The intracondylar notch of the femur in women is more narrow than in 
men. A women's notch is more "A" shaped while men have more "U" shaped 
notches.  The premise here is that friction or "catching" of the ACL may 
contribute an additional mechanical load.  

2. Dr. Frank Noyes has postulated that women have weaker hamstrings. He 
believes a 60-70% hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio is needed for 
twist/turn sports. The 60% number is often sited by physical therapists 
and athletic trainers. In female athletes, the ratio is reportedly 45-55%, 
too weak to protect the ACL. 

3. Another idea is that hormonal changes throughout a woman's menstrual 
cycle increase ligament laxity, thereby making her more vulnerable to 
injury at different points in the cycle.

Check out the New York Times article at:
(All one line)

The real answer, I guess, is we don't know.  There are several ideas out 
there, but none sufficiently substantiated by the research yet. You can 
see by my topic search that I am biased toward the strength theory.  They 
may all play a roll, however.

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