Why are women more prone to non-contact ACL tears than men?

There has been a great deal of research done in recent years to understand why women are more prone to non-contact ACL tears. There are several theories as to why this is so. One group studied the differences between lower extremity alignment and muscle activity during a soccer kick. It was found that male kickers activated the hip flexors and abductors a great deal more than females. It was surmised that the females’ hips may tend to collapse, leading to an increase in load on the knee joint and supporting leg. Another study points to the effect of estrogen in a woman’s body, claiming that the estrogen may work against her by softening or weakening her ligaments making them more susceptible to a tear. Other researchers believe that there are anatomical differences in the way the knee is designed and shaped. Some researchers believe that differences in running, jumping, and landing techniques between men and women are responsible for the differences in ACL tear rates.

As can be seen, the exact reason why females tend to injury their ACL more than males still has to be determined. Much research is being devoted to this area, and additional studies will certainly be needed before a final reason can be established.

Return to the ACL Care page.