Gender bias in common sports injuries | Zandu Fast Relief

Women’s sports have grown exponentially since 1972, and female athletes are becoming household names. Venus and Serena Williams have excelled in tennis, and Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles in gymnastics. Although it is well known that most musculoskeletal injuries are more sport-specific than gender-specific, the gender disparity in sports injuries persists.

Concussions, meniscal knee injuries, ankle sprains, strains, and fractures are the most common injuries in male and female sports. Injury to the ACL is the most commonly discussed of these injuries and over recent years, cases of ACL have been higher in women than men as much as 10 times (Yard, E.E., et al, 2009) (Arendt, E.A., et al, 1999).

Specific anatomical and biomechanical realities contribute to an increased risk of injury when combined with external influences. The following are some of the issues:

  • Ligament laxity/ligament slackness:This increase in female laxity can be related to the menstrual cycle due to peak levels of estrogen and progesterone or to a surge in the hormone relaxin during pregnancy (Harmon, K.G. et al, 2000).
  • Wider pelvis:¬†Women have a broader pelvis, which can affect how their knees and ankles align (increased Q angles). This permits the knees to slide inside, putting more strain on the ACL.
  • Smaller intercondylar: Women’s femoral notch volume was shown to be substantially less than men’s; this difference was mostly connected to height. An anterior cruciate ligament volume connection was discovered to be similar (Charlton, W.P., et al, 2002).

Movement differences

The above anatomical differences also carry over to the way in which females move, that is biomechanical differences between men and women. The notable variation includes females hyperextending their knee, putting stress on surrounding ligaments, tendons, and muscles due to their ligament laxity. Further, women often land erect with their knees together while landing a jump. When a female athlete shifts direction or cuts, she tends to do so with one foot rather than both. Because the muscles in a woman’s legs, buttocks, and hip are not as powerful, the extra effort places tremendous strain on the knee instead of being absorbed by supporting muscle.

Corrective actions

Even while anatomy and biomechanics may increase risk, injuries can be prevented. Whether ACL or another injury the lengthy recovery process can also be minimized. This can be done by following the below few protocols

  • Making certain that the menstrual cycle is observed and that training is adjusted accordingly.
  • Concentrate on good training, learning proper procedures for changing directions, and landing leaps with extreme caution.
  • Overtraining and overuse of the knees and ankles (lower extremity joints) should be avoided, and sufficient recovery care and time should be provided.
  • Incorporating adductor, hamstring, and vastus medialis exercises with the same seriousness as other lower extremity muscles.
  • Warm-up and cool-down methods are strictly followed during games, practices, and even exercises.
  • Last but not least, ensuring that nutrition and hydration are properly addressed.

References

  • Yard, E.E., Collins, C.L. and Dawn Comstock, R., 2009. A comparison of high school sports injury surveillance data reporting by certified athletic trainers and coaches. Journal of athletic training, 44(6), pp.645-652.
  • Arendt, E.A., Agel, J. and Dick, R., 1999. Anterior cruciate ligament injury patterns among collegiate men and women. Journal of athletic training, 34(2), p.86.
  • Harmon, K.G. and Ireland, M.L., 2000. Gender differences in noncontact anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Clinics in sports medicine, 19(2), pp.287-302.
  • Charlton, W.P., John, T.A.S., Ciccotti, M.G., Harrison, N. and Schweitzer, M., 2002. Differences in femoral notch anatomy between men and women: a magnetic resonance imaging study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 30(3), pp.329-333.