Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries on the rise globally

footballer painIn the US around 100,000-200,000 Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ruptures occur every year, although since these figures are provided by colleges and high schools in the US, they do not include injuries outside formalised sport and so the actual number may be even higher.

Here in Australia there has been a steep rise in ACL injuries over the past 15 years – a 70% hike, with a disproportionate number of these occurring in children under the age of 14.

You might think that ACL injury is more common in contact sports and caused by contact, but in fact most (~70%) occur in non-contact situations, when jumping or turning sharply. Sports that have higher rates of ACL injury include soccer, basketball, volleyball and skiing.

Another group that is seeing a rising incidence of ACL injury is female athletes, with females anything up to ten times more likely to sustain ACL injury than their male counterparts. Why this is the case is not fully understood by medical science, although there are some hypotheses, including…

  • Differences in physiology of the knee joint (narrower intercondylar notch)
  • Differences in physiology of the hips/legs (female thigh bones are more angled than men’s due to wider hips)
  • Ligament tissue (ligament tissue is more elastic than in males)
  • Reflexes (very slightly slower knee stabilising muscle reflex response – a millisecond slower – than in males)
  • Lower levels of hamstring strength than males
  • Oestrogen level changes impacting ACL strength

The overall increase in ACL injury

One of the other factors driving these overall increases in injury levels are an increasing focus on sport at a young age and the increase in the number of women athletes competing in a range of team sports.

One of the authors of a report on ACL injury incidence in Australia that came out last year, Associate Professor Christopher Vertullo, is strongly recommending the introduction of an ACL injury prevention program, which he says could reduce the number of injuries to half current levels.

There are already a number of recommendation to athletes to minimise the possibility of ACL injury. These are…

  • Maintaining balance and agility via ‘jump training’ exercises
  • Maintaining strength of ligaments and muscles in the knee via plyometric exercise and exercises focused on quadriceps and hamstrings
  • Warming up thoroughly before training or play (stiff and cold ligaments are more likely to be injured)
  • Wearing footwear that fits well
  • Adhering to good practice related to each specific sport (coaches are generally able to give good guidance here)

The exercises suggested above should be built into a fitness regime repeated 2-3 times per week during the playing season to continue to provide some level of protection from ACL injury.

ACL injury can cause intense pain and so at Qmagnets we recommend the standard approach plus one…

R – rest
I – ice
C – compression
E – elevation
M – magnet therapy

See more on how magnet therapy can help with knee pain…




Any potential ACL injury MUST be reviewed by a doctor or physiotherapist for treatment. Q Magnets only help relieve associated pain.



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