We hear all the time that men are physically superior to women. While I choose to plug my ears over that insignificant fact, I cannot cover my ears to the fact that women suffer harder injuries than men, especially when it comes to your anterior cruciate ligament or ACL as the medically uneducated people like me refer to it. Although you may have heard of your ACL, or the fact that this is a common sports related injury, you may not fully understand the scope of this type of injury – especially as it relates to women.
First, I want to touch on the facts about an ACL injury and how it affects us women. The general description of this injury is a "blunt tear or full rupture to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)." The primary function of this ligament, which joins the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone, is to keep your knee stable and control its movements. Like any injury, there are different ranges of severity, from tearing the ligament to completely rupturing it. Either way, you are usually not just looking at a quick treatment plan and painless recovery.
Generally speaking, this injury occurs when the knee is twisted, bent backwards or bent side to side. An example of this is if you play football (which is unlikely, but you never know), and your foot is planted to the ground and you get knocked in the opposite direction your knee would naturally bend. Since I am almost positive that at least some of our audience here at EmpowHER would not likely get this injury from football, let me give paint a better picture for you. Have you ever missed a step on a staircase? Zig zagged down a ski slope at a high speed? While going for a jog, quickly side step to avoid a pothole? Okay, I think you get it now. The point is, an ACL tear normally happens in an accident or blunt force trauma. It is not common for this condition to develop gradually. And with any injury, the older you get, the more fragile you become, upping your risk factor so this kind of injury.
Now onto the interesting facts about ACL injuries. Did you know women tear their ACL up to eight times more than men? This statistic sounds crazy, but is very true. There are a few specific reasons why that is and they are based around the makeup of our bodies. We women, the beautiful creatures that we are, are all built very differently than men. We have a wider pelvis and smaller ACL. This unnoticeably causes our knees to point slightly inwards which increases the risk of an ACL injury. In addition, women have less muscular strength (I beg to differ), resulting in us relying on our thigh muscles for stability, ultimately putting added stress on the ACL. And would you believe me if I told you that in a semi-rare case you can blame your menstrual cycle on your ACL injury? It’s true. The reason? One word: hormones. They are capable of just about everything.
The moral of this story is, women are much more prone to this type of injury than men. Therefore, if you do come across an ACL injury, it is important to see a doctor right away to determine the severity and treatment options. In my next article on this topic please find more information on symptoms and an overview on the recovery process.