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

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

 

 

 

Soccer Ankle Injuries

Soccer ankle injuries such as ankle sprains and ankle strains are very common. All it takes is stepping on uneven ground or on another player’s foot, and you can roll your ankle.  Sometimes soccer athletes go up for a header and land precariously on their feet, leading to further ankle injuries.

Wearing soccer ankle braces can help prevent injuries on the field. Combined with regular training, ankle braces can keep you healthy through the whole soccer season. Here are some of our top soccer ankle braces:

DonJoy Stabilizing Ankle Brace – Often heralded as the best soccer ankle brace, the DonJoy Stabilizing Ankle does exactly what its name says! It’s especially lightweight so it won’t inhibit movement.

Aircast A60 Ankle Brace – This brace comes with stabilizers at each side of the ankle, supporting the ankle at its weakest points. One of our bestsellers!

Aircast Airsport Ankle Brace – This brace is great for soccer and other sports as well. The Aircast Airsport is versatile, and supports your ankle and foot with unique cushioning aircells.

Don’t skimp on ankle protection when you play soccer — check out our soccer ankle braces today!

Prevent Soccer Back Injuries with a Soccer Back Brace

Did you know that back injuries can happen when playing soccer?

Soccer players are susceptible to lower back pain and herniated disk injuries. In fact, world-famous soccer player David Beckham had to sit out of major league soccer games last week due to pain in his lower back.

The lower back supports the weight and motion of an athlete’s body. The twisting motion from kicking in soccer puts pressure and force on this area, which can lead to back strain or even ligament tears. Here are some ways to prevent soccer back injuries:

  • Wear a soccer back brace. Back braces for soccer provide compression along the spine. This can help hold the back in correct alignment and may prevent injury while playing soccer.
  • Stretch and strengthen the muscles. Make sure to keep your back muscles flexible and strong. This helps your body handle sudden loads of force during a soccer game.
  • Proper warm up. Soccer back injuries may be prevented by getting blood flowing through the body. Quick warm up exercises and stretching can help you avoid back sprains from the twisting motion when kicking.

These simple tips can be all the difference in keeping your body healthy and on the field!