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High Genetic Propensity in ACL Tears

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears run in the family, but prevention programs can help.

ACL tears affected by genetics

When you assess clients, consider asking them whether near relatives have suffered from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. The risk of an ACL tear may be highly influenced by genetic predisposition, according to a study reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2020; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-102392). Advance knowledge can help form effective, individualized prevention programs.

Typical risk factors for an ACL injury include playing on surfaces with high friction, choice of footwear, speed and pivoting. ACL ruptures are also linked to genetic characteristics such as knee malalignment, joint laxity and bone geometry. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden reviewed data from 88,414 twins to assess ACL injury incidence.

Data analysis indicated an overall genetic contribution of 69% for ACL rupture risk heritability for men and women. For context, eye color heritability is 98%, and cancer heritability is reported to be around 33%.

See also: Programming to Prevent ACL Injury 

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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