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Reasons why women are more prone to ACL injuries

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4News) – All week we’ve been sharing how common ACL and knee injuries can be. It happens in both men and women but did you know women are more prone to ACL injuries?

Health experts say girls ages 15-30 are 8 times more likely to injure their ACL. We dive into the reasons why with our partners at Intermountain Healthcare.

Ashley Erekson tore her ACL not once but twice.

“I was doing a leap and came down. I heard that instant pop.”

Ashley was a dancer and tore her ACL landing a jump 10 years ago. The recovery was difficult.

“Just getting back my motion, going upstairs again, to walking and getting back my strength,” said Ashley. 

But it would be nowhere near as hard as the second go-around on the same knee, seven years later.

“I was 25 weeks pregnant and me and my husband went for a hike. I turned around to say something and it just popped and I fell to the ground and my poor husband had to hike 4 miles,” said Ashley.

“There are some difference between men and women and how we’re built,” said Dr. Claire Gross. 

Dr. Claire Gross, Intermountain Sports Medicine Physician in Lehi, says several inherent factors play a role in women being more prone to ACL injuries. 

“Women do tend to have smaller ACLs they tend to not be as thick as men’s and the bony structure surrounding the ACL tends to be smaller.”

Anatomy is one factor and also the way we’re built.

 “There is also some thought women tend to have wider hips it tends to make the thigh bone come down at more of an angle and puts the knee in a riskier position to be able to tear the ACL more easily,” said Gross. 

Certain sports show us more women are especially vulnerable.

“If you look at basketball or soccer females are 2 to 3 times more likely to injure their ACL then men,’ said Gross.

But when it comes to dancers, Dr. Gross says, men and women, injure their ACL at the same rate, which would suggest it comes down to strength training.

“There’s actually been a significant campaign with FIFA, the soccer association, and the International Olympic Committee to put together programs to prevent ACL injuries in women,” said Gross.

Dr. Gross says most of these injuries happen during non-contact situations such as landing a jump or changing directions quickly. The two exact scenarios Ashley went through. 

Ashley who is also a physical therapy assistant at Intermountain TOSH now understands a lot about what her patients go through.

“Being on the other side and now being a patient, it’s been humbling it helps me to speak with my patients more. It shows you can do hard things and we are going to help you,” said Ashley.

Some people are convinced changes in hormones, and pregnancy can impact the stability of that ACL like Ashley. But Dr. Gross says studies been inconclusive and that more research needs to be done.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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