While anyone can injure their anterior cruciate ligament, certain factors put people at higher risk:

    Cutting, pivoting and single-leg landings. About 70% of ACL injuries are non-contact injuries that involve sudden deceleration, such as cutting, pivoting or landing on one leg. They occur most commonly in sports such as basketball, soccer, American football, volleyball, downhill skiing, lacrosse, and tennis.

    Female gender. Females are at 4 to 6 times higher risk than males. In fact, year-round female athletes who play soccer or basketball have a rate of ACL-tear of almost 5%.

    Previously torn ACL. Once an ACL tear has occurred, the risk of re-tear of the previously repaired ACL is approximately 15% higher than that of the primary ACL tear.

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    A direct blow to the outside of the leg or knee. ACL injuries from contact typically occur from a direct blow to the knee when it is hyper-extended or bent slightly inward (valgum). For example, an American football player may suffer an ACL tear after an opponent strikes the outside (lateral aspect) of the leg while his foot is planted. An injury that occurs in this fashion may also occur in combination with other knee injuries, such as a medial meniscus tear, medial collateral ligament tear, or cartilage injury.

    Age. ACL tears are most common between the ages of 15 and 45, mostly due to the more active lifestyle and higher participation in sports.

Why are women at higher risk for ACL Injuries?

Women tend to injure their ACL more often than men because of differences in:

  • Strength
  • Anatomy
  • Genetics
  • Jumping and landing patterns

Experts have recently gained a better understanding of women’s jumping and landing patterns and how they relate to ACL injuries. A particularly vulnerable and common landing position for ACL tears involves the knee and hip in an extended (straight) position when the athlete forcefully places an inward, or valgus, force on the knee.