We are all familiar with the misplays of the month and have all seen just about every way possible to injure yourself or someone else. Based on the amount of televised sport being predominantly male, you might think that sports injuries are more common among male than female athletes.
That may be true for college and NFL football players, since nearly all are male. However, girls and women are actually more prone than men to suffer many of the most common sports-related injuries. There are a variety of reasons for this “gender gap,” but there is much about it that remains uncertain. But the recognition of this gap has led to innovative efforts to prevent injuries among women in sports including but not limited to getting young girls into strength and conditioning programs from an earlier age much like their male counterparts.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main structures in the knee that provides stability under stress. Injuries of this ligament are up to 6 times more common among women than men. A number of other sports-related injuries are also more common among women such as:
- Ankle sprain. This is one of the most common sports injury, but it’s particularly common among women.
- Shoulder injuries. Ranging in everything for inflammation/irritation to rotator cuff problems.
- Knee injuries. These include irritation under the knee cap (called patellofemoral syndrome) and ligament damage (including tears to the ACL), which is especially common among soccer and basketball players.
- Stress fractures. These are especially common in the foot or lower leg (tibia) among women with the “female athlete triad,” a combination of inadequate calorie and nutrient intake, irregular menstrual periods, and bone loss. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, contribute to this triad.
Keep in mind that theses are only a few of the most common injuries seen and much more research is required.
Why are women more prone to these injuries than men?
We have more theories than answers. The most common explanation is that it’s due to basic differences between the bodies of men and women. For example, the typical female athlete, as compared with her male counterpart, has:
- higher estrogen levels, along with less muscle mass.
- greater flexibility (due to looser ligaments).
- a wider pelvis, which alters the alignment of the knee and ankle
- a narrower space within the knee for the ACL to travel through.
Some other important factors to consider are the following:
- Less early access to strength and conditioning programs.
- Female athletes also tend to have a higher pain threshold and are likely to play through pain and injury.
- Social pressure to look/act “feminine”
So if you have a daughter or are an athlete yourself, the current research points at three main options in injury prevention.
- Early access to strength and conditioning programs and coaching.
- Healthier relationships with food. (also results in better nutrition).
- More female focused and lead research!
Looking for speed, strength, agility and vertical training? Come in to SST today to find out how we take care of our female athletes!