55% of all sports injuries are in the knee, making this complex joint the most common site for injury in young athletes. Unfortunately, the numbers of knee injuries in girls have statistically risen far above those seen in male athletes. One of the top factors to increased injury being the female anatomy and structure.
Although many female athletes experience pain in their knees, the root of some of the problems may originate from the structure of their pelvis and hips. The forward tilt of the pelvis along with a more forward-facing hip joint can predispose female athletes towards the femur being positioned with more of an inward angle and internal rotation as compared to the average male. It is this increased angle of the femur as compared to the vertical placement of the tibia that can be a source of chronic knee pain. If the core, hips, and thigh muscles are not strong enough to compensate for the increased angle of the femur to the tibia, the female athlete may be at a higher risk chronic anterior knee pain. Female athletes are also at higher risk of knee injuries (ACL) than their male counterparts in jumping and cutting sports, such as basketball, soccer and softball. Medical professional also hypothesizes that the likelihood of injury for female athletes increases during their menstrual cycle, when ligaments are more relaxed. It was once thought that females sustained greater injuries because there was not the same focus on training, strengthening and conditioning as male athletes. Now that has all changed, especially at the elite level of high school, college and professional sports. Today, women sports are more accepted, encouraged and pushed than in the past. There are more occurrences of injuries not only because of the sheer increase in their numbers but also because female athletes play just as aggressively as men. Increasing the awareness among athletes, coaching staff and parents is one way to positively impact this issue. Read below for additional tips for preventing knee injuries, don’t let your daughter be a statistic!
Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries
Listed below are some tips to help prevent knee injuries in athletes:
- Performing a proper warm up prior to sports participation. Warm-up should gradually prepare the body for exercise or competition by steadily increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles thus reducing the risk of injury.
- Participate in pre-season conditioning, this will physically prepare an athlete for the physical demand their body will endure throughout practice and competition.
- Wear proper footwear. For example, your running shoes may grip the court too much when playing tennis. Athletes wearing cleats need to be sure they have the proper cleat length for sport and field condition
- Be mindful of fatigue. When performing a movement or skill, it is important for athlete to listen to their body. If a certain task feels uncomfortable to perform or just doesn’t feel quite right, they should stop and let their coaching staff know what’s going on.