Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

knee pain women Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

Knee injuries are no laughing matter; 55% of all sports related injuries are knee injuries. But who is at greatest risk for knee injuries when it comes to sports? It turns out that women are 4-6 times more likely to suffer a sports related injury than their male counterparts in the same sport. Out of all sports related injuries, the most common injuries among female athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

The reasons for women having an increased risk of knee injury has nothing to do with strength or ability; it comes down to genetics and anatomical factors, form, and training. Simply put, women are built differently than men and some of those differences put added pressure on their knee joints. Thankfully, the factors contributing to the increase in injuries have been widely researched and while genetics can’t be changed, form corrections and training programs have been proven to prevent knee injuries in women’s sports.

Within the sports community, female athletes who play basketball and soccer are somewhere between 2-10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The reason for the high rate of ACL injuries within these particular sports can be attributed to that most ACL injuries—whether in male or female athletes— are caused by non contact mechanisms. These include common movements like landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running. But why are women so susceptible to ACL injuries? Let’s take a look at the factors and what can be done to reduce the risk.

Genetic and Anatomical Factors:

ACL Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It connects the front of the tibia (shinbone) with the back of the femur (thighbone). It helps provide stability to the knee joint.

The strength and use of the surrounding muscle groups, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, have a serious impact on the ACL. When running and jumping, women tend to lead with their quads, whereas male athletes seem to have a better balance between the quads and the hamstring muscles. A balance between quads and hamstrings means the impact is more evenly distributed, thus reducing the pressure on the knee.

Another reason for increased knee pressure is that women have a wider pelvis which creates a larger Q-angle at the knee. This often results in a more “knock-kneed” posture in women, leaving the ACL more vulnerable for injury.

Q Angle 600 Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

(image via http://blog.footsmart.com)

Additional anatomical factors in ACL tears such as the diameter of the ACL are still being researched.

Some doctors think women are more prone an ACL injury because of the differences in the amount of circulating hormones such as estrogen. Certain hormones give ligaments strength and flexibility. Fluctuations in hormone levels may have some impact on the function of the nerves and muscles and may lead to an increased risk of injury.

Form:

When researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain why this increased risk of ACL injuries in women was occurring, they uncovered that poor form when landing a jump contributed to the risk.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

After this discovery, the same researchers spent six weeks correcting these form issues resulted in a reduction in the likelihood of ACL injury by up to 50%.

Prevention Through Training:

As doctors and orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in ACL injuries in women, training and conditioning programs were designed to correct problems with form, strengthen knees and surrounding muscles and reduce the risk of injury. FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments, has designed a warm up program specifically designed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries in soccer players (male and female).

Teams that perform FIFA 11+  program at least twice a week, for 20 minutes at time, experience 30-50% fewer injured players, according to FIFA.

In addition, the Sports Physical Therapy department at Massachusetts General Hospital have put together a detailed sports conditioning program to help increase knee strength and reduce knee injuries specifically in female athletes through active warm-up, stretching, strengthening exercises, plyometric drills, and agility drills.

While ACL injuries for female athletes were reaching epidemic proportions, through understanding the problems causing the increase and creating prevention programs based on research, the rate of these injuries is on the decline.

Sources:

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/a_females_aching_knees/

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/risk-knee-injury-increases-women

http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/features/sports-medicine-surgeon-urges-girls-soccer-teams-try-acl-tear-prevention-drills

http://wcbe.org/post/epidemic-knee-injuries-young-female-athletes

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/nov10/research3.asp

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices/sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20Knee%20Injuries%20and%20ACL.pdf

http://www.athletestrengthandperformance.com/acl-anatomy-gender-disparity/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465242/

http://www.atipt.com/news-media/blog/acl-tears-and-knee-pain-more-common-women-activity

Preventing Sports Injuries in High School Students

PreventingInjuryHS Preventing Sports Injuries in High School Students

As parents, your children’s safety is a top priority. According to ESPN, 21.47 million kids between 6 and 17 play organized sports. That’s more than the population of the state of New York.

Sports are great for young people for many reasons; being part of a team, staying active, college scholarships, etc. But with any physical activity, there is a risk of injury. In fact, high school athletes get injured about as often as professional athletes do. Some of the most common injuries occur because many athletes are still growing during their high school years. Bones grow first, causing an uneven growth pattern that pulls on tendons and muscles, increasing the chance of injury. However, there are simple steps you can take to help reduce that chance.

Proper Equipment

Many sports — football, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc — require certain protective gear to play. Make sure all gear fits properly and is in good condition.

If your child has been previously injured, make sure they have the proper support, brace, or protective gear to reduce the chance of repeat or further injury.

Warming Up

Warming up is important for anyone playing a sport. A proper warm up includes stretching before heading out on the field, court or ice. Warm ups increase muscle and tendon flexibility, helping to avoid injuries like pulls and tears.

Conditioning prior to the start of a sports season can help a high school athlete avoid injury during the season. The chance of injury increases when an athlete has a sudden increase in their level of activity that their body is not prepared for. Starting gradually and working up to a full training program is best to get back in playing shape.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure your young athlete drinks plenty of fluids (water or sports drinks) before, during, and after the game.

Don’t Over Do It

Limit the number of sports your high school student plays a season and make sure they take time off. Children and teens who play more than one sport during a season are at greater risk of injury from overuse. Injuries from overuse are common even in adults. If your child is dedicated to a single sport, try to take a couple months off between seasons. Year-round training can lead to overuse injuries as well.

Got other tips for preventing sports injuries? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sources:

How to Keep Your Soccer Career Alive and Kicking

Soccer How to Keep Your Soccer Career Alive and Kicking

Soccer (or football) is arguably the most popular sport in the world. With the largest worldwide soccer tournament less than a week away, we’re taking a look at the most common soccer-related injuries and how to prevent them.

Hands-down the most common injury from soccer is a sprained ankle. Between running with the ball, maneuvering around opposing players or even being kicked by them, this is not a surprise. And while a sprained ankle might sideline you, it’s important to give it enough time to heal before getting back on the field.

Knee injuries are also common in soccer and often more severe.  One of the most dreaded knee injuries soccer players can experience is a tear in their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) near the knee.  According to FIFA, seventy per cent of all ACL injuries happen without contact with another player. An injury like a torn ACL could require surgery to repair.

Moving up from the knee, hamstring (the muscle group in the back of your thigh) injuries are fairly typical, especially for players in positions that require sprinting or sudden acceleration like forward and midfield. Injuries can range for a more mild pull to a more serious tear.

So how do you prevent injuries on the soccer field? Proper warm ups are crucial. Making sure your muscles are stretched out and limber is key to preventing pulls and tears. FIFA has created a soccer warm  up program designed specifically to help reduce the risk of injury on the field.

Staying active in the off-season and gradually working up to peak performance is another way to avoid injury. Injuries are much more likely for players who have not trained or played for a period of time. If you’ve been out of the game for a while, ease back into it. Work on your conditioning and strength training as you gradually get back into full contact soccer. On that same note, do not overtrain. Many injuries come from overuse, particularly in young players. If you are starting to feel worn down, listen to your body and take some time off. Taking one season off could help you extend your soccer career by many more seasons.

Sources:

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/footballdevelopment/medical/playershealth/injuries/commoninjuries/index.html

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/soccer-injury-prevention.aspx

 

 

 

Only Football Pros Need Knee Braces? Think Again

Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles. These are big names in professional football who have experienced knee injuries in recent years. But they’re at risk only because they play in the big league, right? Think again.

One of the common misconceptions surrounding football knee braces is that only professional players need to wear support gear. That’s simply not true. Whether you play football professionally, recreationally, or just for fun on the random occasion – your chances of injury are the same.

To help minimize your chances of injury during football, many experts recommend wearing football knee braces. Football knee braces provide added support to the joint, minimizing risk of injury when running and making sudden turns during football. Knee braces for football help stabilize the shock that your knee absorbs during impact, lowering your chances of injury.

While football knee braces don’t completely eliminate your chances of injury, they certainly help reduce your risk. And as with anything, safety comes first! Speak with your doctor to see if knee braces for football are an appropriate choice for your situation, then check out BetterBraces.com for football knee braces!

A Secret to Marathon Running Success

Some of the world’s most successful athletes have a secret weapon when it comes to staying competitive.

The secret?

It’s Compex muscle stimulators.

Electrostimulation has been shown to improve stamina, increase strength and speed, help blood circulation, speed up recovery after a workout and provide other improvements to performance. Marathon runners benefit especially from muscle stimulators to increase their endurance while running. Of course, the other benefits also help… especially for an marathoner that’s focusing on training.

Electrostimulation devices work by gently contracting your muscles, which exercises them without the fatigue that comes with long workouts. So, you can train your body effectively without impacting your joints. Combined with your regular workouts, muscle stimulators can take your fitness to the next level. Compex is widely known as the leader in muscle stimulators – the Compex brand is a secret weapon of professional athletes such as triathlete Chris “Macca” McCormack.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your performance and your marathon times, then check out Compex muscle stimulators to gain an edge on your next race. Be sure to consult with your physician to ensure that electrostimulation is an appropriate training method for your situation.