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Shaping the Thighs to Reduce Knee Injuries in Female Athletes

With the great success of the U.S. Women’s soccer team at the 2019 Women’s World Cup Championship in France, more young female competitors will be motivated to participate in recreational and competitive sports like soccer.

Fivethirtyeight.com says, “in the late ’70s, the number of high school women playing soccer was in the low five figures. By the time America won the World Cup in 1991, there were more than 120,000. By the time it won in 1999, there were more than 250,000. Now it is approaching 20 percent of all high school female athletes — about 375,000 — and has surpassed baseball/softball as the third-most-played team sport.”

With this growing number of female soccer participants comes a greater susceptibility to knee injuries – exceeding similar injury rates in males. NCAA.org notes that, “women’s soccer players have the third-highest ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury rates in NCAA sports behind men’s spring football and women’s gymnastics.

USyouthsoccer.org also comments that, “numerous research studies that have been conducted over the past 10 years indicate that females are indeed more susceptible to ACL injuries; most studies report that females are 4-8 times more likely to tear this ligament.

The ACL, which connects the thighbone (femur)) to the shinbone (tibia), prevents the tibia from moving too far forward in relation to the femur – controlling tibial rotation.The ACL is typically injured, when a player makes a change of direction cut, lands from a jump, or is hit by an opposing player – causing the knee to bend and rotate excessively.

Females are more at risk due to having a greater valgus (inward) knee position when landing from a jump or cut maneuver, a delayed activation of the hamstrings, which help to control tibial rotation, and weaker hamstring to quadriceps ratio.

Here are two simple exercises – using resistance tubing – that can help to not only reduce the risk to knee injury, but also shape the thighs.

Seated Hip Internal/External Rotation:

Connect the resistance tube to a fixed object. Sit on the ground and place one end of the tube around the leg just above the bent knee – with foot flat on the ground Straiten the non-involved knee and place adjacent to working leg, which is closest to the anchor. Rotate the hip inward against the resistance of the tube – adjusting the distance from the anchor to perform 10-15 repetitions. Perform an outward movement with the opposite leg – moving the bent leg away from the anchor. Repeat facing the opposite direction.

Standing Short Arcs:

Place a light resistance tube around a fixed object. Place the other end of the tube around the leg – such that it is directly behind the knee. With the working knee slightly bent, straighten the knee against the resistance – adjusting to permit 10-15 repetitions. The body weight is shifted to the working leg. Perform with the opposite leg.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

Mackie and April share exercises every Wednesday on WWL-TV


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