Knee ACL injuries during women’s soccer are a national epidemic. We see women’s soccer patients every month who have shredded their ACL and invasive surgery is often planned. Is women’s soccer ACL prevention possible? It could be as simple as looking at the menstrual cycle.
Researchers at Loma Linda University looked at 10 women and measured their hormone levels during their cycle and their ACL stability and stiffness. This made sense, as we’ve known for a long time that female hormones can impact ligament laxity; in fact this is how the pregnant body prepares for birth, by releasing hormones that make the birth canal ligaments lax. What did the researchers find? That during ovulation, when estrogen levels were the highest, the knee ACL ligaments were the most lax and likely prone to injury. In addition, when the temperature increased (simulating a good warm up period), the ligament properties improved despite the hormone induced laxity.
The upshot? If you’re a female athlete playing during your mid-cycle ovulation and concerned about your ACL, you may want to make sure you warm up very well!