There are many theories to account for the increased incidence of ACL tears in women athletes. While each of the answers may contribute, recent studies have shown that differences in the level of neuromuscular training and coordination play the most significant role. This is a potentially modifiable factor and jump training and plyometric conditioning programs have been shown to decrease the rates of ACL injury in women.
The Griffin and the Harmon papers are reviews by experts in ACL injury which list all of the answers as contributing factors to increased ACL injury rates seen in women athletes. Of these, neuromuscular imbalances were felt to be both the most significant and of particular interest because they are potentially modifiable.
The Zebis reference states that neuromuscular training increased EMG activity for the medial hamstring muscles, thereby decreasing the risk of dynamic valgus. This observed neuromuscular adaptation during sidecutting could potentially reduce the risk for non-contact ACL injury.
Griffin LY, Albohm MJ, Arendt EA, Bahr R, Beynnon BD, Demaio M, Dick RW, Engebretsen L, Garrett WE Jr, Hannafin JA, Hewett TE, Huston LJ, Ireland ML, Johnson RJ, Lephart S, Mandelbaum BR, Mann BJ, Marks PH, Marshall SW, Myklebust G, Noyes FR, Powers C, Shields C Jr, Shultz SJ, Silvers H, Slauterbeck J, Taylor DC, Teitz CC, Wojtys EM, Yu B. Understanding and preventing noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries: A review of the Hunt Valley II Meeting. Am J Sports Med. 2006;34:1512-32.
PMID:16905673 (Link to Abstract)
Harmon KJ, Ireland ML. Gender differences in noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Clin Sports Med 2000;19:287-302.
PMID:10740760 (Link to Abstract)
Zebis MK, Bencke J, Andersen LL, Døssing S, Alkjaer T, Magnusson SP, Kjaer M, Aagaard P. The effects of neuromuscular training on knee joint motor control during sidecutting in female elite soccer and handball players. Clin J Sport Med. 2008;18(4):329-37.
PMID:18614884 (Link to Abstract)