Why are ACL’s Tearing Left and Right?

 

    It seems that one of the most common injuries that is occurring in high school and college athletes is ACL tears. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament and is the ligament that connects the .. There are some theories that have been explored as to why this is occurring but none of them have been proven to be true 100% of the time. It is concerning that young athletes have such a high frequency of this injury, which can be seen in the Harborfields population.

    Within Harborfields alone there have been four female athletes that have torn their ACL in the past four years, including Celia Argiriou, Christiana DeBorja, Medora Benson, and Erin Tucker. It is nerve-wracking to other female athletes that such a high number of their peers have been sidelined due to this injury.

Thankfully all of these young ladies have successfully returned to their respective sports, but for some it is still a mystery as to what caused the injury in the first place.

    This injury is usually a devastating one because it is such a crucial ligament in the knee, which allows a person to move around normally.

One way that ACL’s are torn is through contact injuries, but those are not very common. The University of  California, San Francisco has estimated that “70% of ACL injuries are sustained through non-contact mechanisms, while the remaining 30% result from direct contact”. In the scope of all the ACL injuries that occur in a year the one that are caused by direct contact are miniscule.

    On the other hand, the majority of these types of injuries is occurring because of non-contact injuries, meaning that the ACL tears when the person is doing something by themselves. Most of the non-contact injuries occur as a result of “a twisting action where the foot is planted in the ground and the knee turns excessively inwards,” according to Sports Injury Clinics. In most sports this movement is common, so why don’t men tear their ACL’s as often as women seem to?

 The doctors at Orthopedic Specialists of NC say, “the increased width of a woman's pelvis was responsible for the greater stress on a woman's ACL”. It is often thought that because a woman’s hips are so much wider than male counterparts there is more stress but on their knees when making cuts and pivoting in various sports. With more stress on their knees, a woman’s ACL is more susceptible to being torn than a man’s.

    Another theory as to why women tear their ACL’s more than men is because women aren’t correctly trained on how to land when jumping. There is a frightening number of female athletes that are tearing their ACL’s after they jump in any sport. The Orlando Orthopaedic Center says, “ Females are also shown to land with less knee flexion (bend in the knees) and valgus (meaning their knees angle in and touch one another when the legs are straightened – a term often called “knock knees”).” The way that women land after jumping basically causes the ACL and other ligaments in the knee to begin to shred and result in tears over time.

    One example of this occurring in Harborfields is the Lady Tornadoes point guard, Christiana DeBorja. She said, “I was doing a normal Eurostep all by myself,” and she ended up landing in a weird way. Unfortunately, she tore her ACL and was out for her senior soccer season. Thankfully though she was able to return to basketball season and led the Tornadoes to the League Champion title.

    Another example, also from the girls’ basketball team was Celia Argiriou. During practice she was setting a pick while running through an offense and landed wrong. She claimed, “that it felt like her knee had slid out of place,” but unfortunately she ended up tearing her ACL also. Kate Tardo even said that the injury, “did not look as bad as it was.” Celia had frayed her ACL and even though it didn’t look as bad, she still had to go through the surgery and recovery like everyone else.

Finally, another theory is that females during adolescence are more likely to tear their ACL than people who are older because of their lack of coordination. After many rounds of research Science Daily claims, “it takes time for the adolescent to develop good coordination with their newly elongated limbs.” During puberty, girls and boys alike go through major growth spurts. Because of these growth spurts it takes time for the young adults to become used to their new height and length, making them vulnerable to injuries such as tearing an ACL.

It is hard to get over an ACL injury, especially if you are a year-round athlete. Thankfully for all the young women in Harborfields they were able to get back to their sports and continue to play on outside teams. Through their hard work they were able to go back to being some of the top athletes on Long Island.