Researchers led by Dr. Hillary J. Braun and colleagues looked at the differences in risk factors for ACL injuries for female athletes who are field hockey players compared to lacrosse players. Prior research has suggested that ACL injuries tend to be more common for women playing lacrosse than field hockey.
In order to assess the biomechanical risk factors for female lacrosse and field hockey players, researchers attempted to understand why lacrosse might yield an increase in ACL injury incidence. Researchers recognized the different posture demands of the two sports, with field hockey players often in a crouching position that is forward flexing, and lacrosse players having a more upright stance with a lot of overhead throwing.
The study recruited 31 Division I NCAA female athletes from field hockey and lacrosse. They were asked to do four tasks three times with each leg. This included bilateral drop jumps, single leg drop jumps, single leg jumps onto a bosu ball, and a 45 degree anticipated cut.
Data was collected on a variety of factors including knee adduction moment, hip flexion angle, sway angles, and trunk flexion. Differences were found between female lacrosse and field hockey players. Field hockey players had greater peak knee flexion angles and they were also more flexed at the trunk during cutting with a higher degree of trunk sway.
Researchers concluded that a smaller knee flexion angle during landing may yield a higher rate of ACL injury for lacrosse players as compared to those playing field hockey. ACL injury prevention programs that are tailored to specific types of athletes might be helpful in reducing ACL injury rates. Learn more about the differences between lacrosse and field hockey ACL injury rates.