Why Women are More Prone to Knee Injury

From ATLX Partner: Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic
This article was originally published on June 5, 2013. View the original article here.

Mike BairdIt is no secret that the body of a woman is different than the body of a man. What might be surprising to some is that women may be at increased risk of certain injuries in sports compared to their male counterparts. “The most commonly discussed difference in injury rates between male and female basketball players is in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries,” said Kerlan-Jobe orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Orr Limpisvasti. “Females have been shown to have a higher ACL injury rate than males for a given level of competition.”

Why is a female athlete more likely to suffer ACL injury?

What is it about a woman’s body that makes her more prone to knee injury? Dr. Limpisvasti explains that while many theories exist among sports medicine specialists regarding this difference, one leading thought is that there are differences in neuromuscular control and landing patterns between male and female athletes.

A publication found on the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) website states that when the muscle fiber characteristics between men and women were studied, women were only 66 percent as strong as men in the lower body. The strength of the muscle fibers can affect function and control of the muscles that support the knee. Weaker leg muscles can lead to an increased risk of knee injuries.

What can be done to prevent ACL injury?

There are many prevention strategies that have been shown to be effective in decreasing this disproportionate risk of injury between male and female athletes. Many physical therapists and athletic trainers who regularly treat athletes who have suffered ACL injuries and undergone knee surgery are adept at instituting these strategies.

“ACL injury prevention programs incorporate exercises that can be performed to increase balance, core strength, and improve landing/deceleration patterns,” says Dr. Limpisvasti. “When I perform ACL reconstruction I always include an aggressive neuromuscular training program of this sort in the post-operative rehabilitation to help prevent the cause of the problem.”

Dr. Limpisvasti recommends athletes who have undergone ACL surgery following a knee injury, or who are playing at risk sports, such as soccer and basketball, to find a physical therapist or athletic trainer to work directly with the player or team to institute a neuromuscular training program for ACL injury prevention. Some institutions such as FIFA (soccer) provide inexpensive and easy versions of ACL injury prevention programs.


About the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic
The Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic is a world leader in the research, diagnosis and treatment of orthopaedic and sports medicine injuries and illnesses. In addition to sports medicine, Kerlan-Jobe specializes in all aspects of orthopaedic care, including the diagnosis and treatment of the spine, shoulder, elbow, knee, hand and foot disorders, orthopaedic trauma, arthritis, congenital disorders and work-related injuries. For more information, visit www.kerlanjobe.com.


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