Female Athletes and Knee Injuries

First Aid |

As young women are increasingly participating in sports, their number sof anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are also growing at an alarming rate. Nearly 30,000 women in high school and college experience ACL injuries each year, costing an estimated $1 billion a year for rehabilitation alone.

When doctors first noticed the growing number of ACL injuries among women, there were a number of possible causes including biological differences between men and women, as women were eight times more likely to experience these injuries than men. Recently, researchers found that the high incidence of ACL injuries has to do with differences in playing techniques and musculature between men and women. Women tend to use their knee ligaments for support when they jump, land or pivot, which can lead to injury. For this reason, women who play basketball, soccer and volleyball have the highest incidence of ACL injuries as they must jump, land and pivot frequently. Men, on the other hand, use the muscles around their knee for support, which protects the knee ligaments from harm and reduces the risk of injury. In addition, women’s quadriceps are usually much stronger than their hamstrings, so when the quadriceps pull on the ACL, the weaker hamstrings cannot stabilize the joint, causing injuries. Men tend to have a balance of strong quadriceps and hamstrings, so there is more stability in the joint and the risk for injury is lowered.

While young women may have an increased risk for ACL injuries, a weight training and exercise program that helps to strengthen the hamstrings may reduce the risk of injury up to 80 percent. Researchers have found that a six-week training program that uses weight, stretching and plyometric exercises helps females to control their joints and learn how to fall safely. Other ways to reduce the risk of ACL injury is to teach women how to use their muscles properly and encourage them to train in different activities to keep their muscles balanced. Women who specialize in only one sport may develop muscles for that sport, but lose strength in muscles that are not being used (Reuters Health, July 21, 2000).

A complete first-aid kit contents may help you react effectively, quickly to common injuries and emergencies. Everyone must have an individual first aid kit in the car, at home, in the workplace.