Girls today play fall sports like soccer and volleyball with the same passion and drive their dads once brought to the playing field. But girls face a greater danger of some injuries than their dads did. They face the rising possibility of debilitating knee injury.
Take the case of 15-year-old UT soccer player Gabrielle Pauwels, Silvis, IL. She tore her ACL during a fun game of kickball, entering a growing club of young female athletes to do so.
In fact, the ACL – a ligament that stabilizes the knee joint – is at increasing risk of injury to girl athletes in middle and high school, causing up to 6 times more injuries to them than to boys. The statistics get even more troubling when you consider the likelihood that these girls may develop osteoarthritis by the time they are in their 30s.
ORA sports medicine physician Dr. Suleman Hussain says the way women jump rotates their knees in dangerous ways, creating a much greater likelihood of injury than is found in young men.
“Girls’ physiological differences produce different rotational forces that stress the knee as they land,” he says.
Simple exercises help prevent knee injury
After the injury has occurred, new surgical techniques restore knee stability in 90% of cases (and did for Gabrielle). When knee surgery is needed, ORA Orthopedics Hip & Knee Center specialists are standing by. But the best response is prevention before the tear occurs.
Dr. Hussain says studies show stretches and exercises can prevent up to 72% ACL injuries in young women.
“Doing simple exercises to improve balance and coordination may help girls use safer movement techniques,” he says.
So do a few stretches first, then follow along as Dr. Hussain and a local athlete who demonstrates a few easy yet effective exercises!
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