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Loose-Jointed Athletes and ACL Tears

Hyperlax female athletes have a higher chance of tearing the ACL

Loose jointed (hyperlax) female athletes have a 4-5 times higher risk of suffering ACL injuries.

Are you "Loose Jointed?"

We think we know what this means. Often times, we think of loose jointed as a general term that applies to people with obviously high levels of flexibility.

But that's not it. There are actual criteria that puts people in this category of "loose-jointed." We call it being "hyper-lax."

Ok, so some people are loose-jointed. But why does it matter? Here's why. Hyper-lax female athletes actually have a 4-5 times higher ACL risk than other female athletes.

There is something about being loose jointed that might help your daughter be a better athlete though. In the general population, we find that about 5 to 10 percent of the population meets the criteria for hyper laxity.

How often do we see hyper-lax female athletes?

As an example of how frequently this occurs in female athletes, recently I was out in Park City, Utah conducting pre-season physical exams on the US Ski Team athletes.

In the World Cup athletes my partner, Dr. Jeff Harrison, and I saw that on that day, 15 of 17 athletes met the criteria for congenital hyper laxity!

So you can see how many of these world-class female skiers are considered loose-jointed. Clearly many of our top racers enjoy an advantage due to being hyperlax, despite the increased risk for ACL tears.

5 Ways To Tell If You (or your daughter) are loose jointed.

1. Can you bend your thumb down to touch the front of your forearm?

2. Can you bend your pinky finger back more than 90 degrees at the knuckle?

3. Do your elbows hyperextend more than 10 degrees?

4. Do your knees hyperextend more than 10 degrees?

5. Can you touch your palms flat on the ground when you bend over to touch the ground?

With the first four of these having a right and left component, there are a total of 9 points possible. A score of 7/9 or more means you are congenitally loose jointed!

Here's an old school diagram of the test for you:

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