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Changes In Landing Techniques Could Reduce Risk Of ACL Tears

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The likelihood of women suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in the knee is up to eight times higher compared to men, according to the findings of a study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University (OSU). They suggest that this may be the result of body type and landing techniques working in tandem, meaning that the risk of an ACL injury could be reduced by adopting a different landing strategy.

Led by Marc Norcross, the OSU team worked alongside colleagues from the University of North Carolina. They selected 82 physically active subjects for their study, asking them to perform a series of jumping exercises. The landing strategies used by the participants were monitored through motion analysis software. The researchers established that both men and women showed a tendency to land stiffly, presumably as a result of tensing their quad muscles before landing. But in the case of female subjects, the likelihood of landing in a knock-kneed position was 3.6 times higher. According to the researchers, this may be the key reason for the gender disparity observed in ACL tears.

As Norcross explained, the use of quad muscles appears to be the same in men and women, so that could not provide an explanation as to why women were at greater risk of ACL injuries. By utilising motion analysis, the team managed to determine that lack of control over frontal-plane knee loading was more common among women. It will be up to future studies to establish why female athletes are more likely to land in a knock-kneed position, but it may have something to do with basic biology, meaning that their wider hips make women more likely to bring their knees together after jumping, Norcross added.