Accelerate ACL Awareness Among Young Women Day
Also known as
National AAAYW Day
annually on April 5th
Accelerate ACL Awareness Among Young Women Day is a campaign to raise awareness among parents, coaches, educators, and young women, so that young women may be educated on how to prevent and treat ACL injuries. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which is a ligament in the knee. The ACL may be stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, the latter being the most common. Injuries are usually caused by a sudden stop, a quick change in direction (known as cutting), landing after jumping, and direct forceful contact to the knee.
Around 200,000 people are affected with ACL issues in the United States each year. Females are at a higher risk for injury in some sports—females are two to eight times more likely to strain their ACLs in sports with cutting and jumping than males are. Gymnastics is the sport that women have the highest rate of ACL injury, and injury is also high in basketball and soccer.
There are multiple differences between males and females that lead to higher ACL injury risk for females. Females tend to have less muscular protection in their knee joints, have differences in pelvis and leg alignment compared to males, and have a difference in ligament laxity because of dissimilarities in hormones such as estrogen and relaxin. Females have neuromuscular imbalances that are explained by theories. The ligament dominance theory says that when females jump their muscles don't absorb enough impact from the ground, which leads to knees having to absorb more of the force. The quadriceps dominance theory says that females tend to stabilize their knee joints using the quadriceps muscle, which can place strain on the ACL. The leg dominance theory says that females tend to put more weight on one leg than the other. Finally, the trunk dominance theory says that males usually have greater control of their trunk and females land with their upper body more tilted, causing more rotational force on their knees.
Proper sports training and conditioning programs, including neuromuscular training and core strengthening, as well as emphasizing proper landing from jumps, can be effective in the prevention of ACL injuries for young female athletes. This was corroborated by the International Olympic Committee after they reviewed preventive strategies.
Treatment of ACL injuries varies depending on what level of activity is desired to be done in the future and can range from nonsurgical treatment to ligament reconstruction. With reconstruction, a tendon from another part of the body or even from a cadaver is used. An expanded usage of the joint and the strengthening of muscles that surround the knee follows surgery.
How to Observe
Observe the day by learning more about prevention and treatment for ACL injuries. You could read the International Olympic Committee statement on ACL injuries and should also make sure to discuss the importance of ACL injury prevention with any younger female athletes you know.