365 Ways #201–ACL injuries and the female athlete Posted on October 18, 2010, 0 Comments

#201--I recently had one of my blog readers ask me my thoughts on the increasing number of ACL injuries among female athletes. Her 16yr old niece is undergoing surgery next week for a torn ACL she suffered in a soccer game and "a large percentage of her teammates are out for the season for the same reason."

Outside of the growing number of young girls participating in sports, there are likely a number of preventable causes. I'd first look at hydration levels. Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Bodies Many Cries for Water, states that optimal hydration occurs when one drinks half his/her body weight in pounds in ounces of water each day. I don't know many kids at any age who are drinking enough. They consume a lot of soda and juice, yes--but these only further their levels of dehydration. And as the body scavenges water to run it's billions of biological functions that occur every second, one of the first places it steals it is the connective tissue of the body. In fact, cadaver dissections of young athletes often find tendons in ligaments so brittle they look like the connective tissue found in people in their 60's and 70's. Without water, these structures lack elasticity and rupture more easily than hydrated tissue.

One must also consider nutrition, of course. The body is constantly replacing cells and making new tissues. But if the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, etc are made from processed crap and fast food, the quality of these tissues will reflect that. Try tearing the leg off of a conventionally raised chicken and then one which has been raised cage-free, and you'll see the difference. You just can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit!

Additionally, the amount of xenoestrogens in our food supply creates increased ligament laxity. Coupled with an increase in their own sex hormones as they enter puberty, a wider Q-angle (the angle from the hip to the knee that is greater in females than males), and a faulty training program which over utilizes machines and saggital plan movements and you have an equation for a body which cannot handle the lateral and rotational stressors of sport.

So start with hydration. Add quality food. Then sprinkle in a dash of functional training and you have the ingredients for a successful athlete who will be healthy and happy her entire competitive career.