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

Basketball Plantar Fasciitis? It’s the real deal.

The typical response when you mention “plantar fasciitis” to a basketball player is… “huh?” However, that may not be the case anymore after Spain’s Olympic basketball star Juan Carlos Navarro had to miss some games due to the condition.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. This tissue creates the arch of the foot and is known as the plantar fascia. When the plantar fascia becomes irritated from overuse it can cause pain and discomfort.

Because basketball involves so much running and foot movement, plantar fasciitis can actually be quite common amongst basketball players. Some athletes wear ankle or foot braces that treat plantar fasciitis, such as the Aircast Airheel Ankle Brace. It gives extra support under the arch and has special aircells that inflate and deflate as you walk to gently massage key areas of the foot.

So if you’re an athlete and start experiencing pain at the heel or bottom of the foot, check with your doctor to see if it may be plantar fasciitis. Then check out braces and supports for plantar fasciitis!

Basketball Knee Braces May Help With Basketball Knee Injuries

One of the big fears every basketball player has is a season-ending knee injury. China’s Olympic basketball player Yi Jianlian can attest to that – he’s been struggling with a knee injury for several days now, and it’s clear to viewers and teammates that it’s affecting his game – and the scores.

To help prevent basketball knee injuries from happening in the first place, many professional and recreational basketball players wear basketball knee braces. They help support and stabilize the knee, reducing your chance of ligament injuries. Some athletes wear knee straps which also help with pain from tendonitis and jumper’s knee. With all the running and stress on the joints, basketball knee braces take a key part in battling knee injuries during basketball.

Basketball knee braces can also help after an injury has occurred. Many injuries that athletes suffer are actually re-injuries of issues that have happened in the past. Knee braces give added support to prevent the knee joint from moving out of place, minimizing the time that your knee is in at “at risk” position for re-injury.

Check out these basketball knee braces and get the protection you deserve during the pre-season.

Basketball ACL Tears & ACL Protection

ACL tears are a common injury for basketball players of all levels, from recreational to collegiate and even professional level athletes. In fact, one of the major injuries that recently hit the headlines is rookie Ricky Rubio’s ACL tear. Experts are saying that he’ll probably be out the rest of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and will be unable to play for Spain during the 2012 Olympics. As you can see, ACL tears can interfere with your ability to participate in the sport you love.

Wearing an ACL knee brace can help prevent ACL tears and keep you in the game. The best basketball knee brace is the DonJoy Playmaker Knee Brace. It helps stabilize the area around the knee joint to prevent the leg from moving unnaturally in ways that will stretch your ACL. The DonJoy Playmaker is really great for basketball because of its breathable material that keeps the leg cool and dry. It’s also designed so that it won’t get in your way while you’re playing defense or making layups, but still offers great protection against ACL injuries.

If you enjoy playing basketball, be sure to add the DonJoy Playmaker Knee Brace as part of your equipment before getting on the court!

Ankle Injuries in Football and Basketball

Most athletes that play football and/or basketball know that these sports put their ankles at risk for injury. Yet so many football and basketball players, especially younger players, don’t do anything to protect themselves from injury.

Let’s put things in to perspective:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots limped off the field during their AFC Championship win on Sunday, January 22. Now he’s questionable to return for the Super Bowl. He might miss playing in the Super Bowl because of an ankle injury!
  • Center Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz recently had to sit out of another basketball game because of an inflamed ankle. This isn’t the first time he’s hurt his ankle. How many more times is it going to happen?
  • Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely due to a fractured left ankle which occurred after landing on another player’s foot.

Ankle injuries are very frequent in both football and basketball. Luckily there are ways you can reduce your chances of ankle injuries. For one thing, be sure to strengthen and stretch your ankles between games. Having strong ankle muscles means that you’re less likely to sprain your ankle.  Check your equipment. Be sure your shoes aren’t worn out. Include ankle braces as part of your usual gear that you wear on the court and on the field.

Although nothing can completely eliminate our chances for ankle injuries, they can significantly reduce them. Talk with your doctor or sports medicine professional for additional ways to help reduce your chances of ankle injuries from football and basketball. You can also check out these following resources for football and basketball ankle protection.