Neuromuscular Control in Female Athletes May Help Prevent ACL Injuries

by Joy Keller on Mar 01, 2007

Valgus knee movement in women is considered a major contributor to the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, according to an article published last fall in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (2006; 28 [5], 44–54). The article also states that women are four to six times more likely to suffer ACL injury than men and that, upon load, a 5-degree valgus angle at the knee stresses the ligament six times as much as a properly aligned knee. Such factors as ligament, quadriceps and leg dominance; joint position and range of motion; core instability; and neuromuscular fatigue are thought to affect neuromuscular control of the knee. Female athletes who commonly jump or make quick directional changes in their sport are especially vulnerable to injury.

Author Donald V. Fischer, MSPT, suggests counteracting predisposition to injury by using training methods that improve “conscious awareness of body position and body movement prior to the initiation of a motor command and the conscious awareness of the consequences of the motor command after it has been initiated.” Fischer also advises integrating exercises that focus on core strength, knee-flexion range of motion and decreased knee abduction in accordance with plyometric, balance and perturbation training.

—Ryan Halvorson

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 17 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.