Female high school and college athletic participation has increased by leaps and bounds over the past 30 years. It is common belief that injury rates are sport specific vs. gender specific; however, women seem to be more at risk. Why? Anatomic differences, such as having smaller bone structure, being shorter and lighter, along with having less muscle mass, definitely contribute to this fact. Hormonal differences also play a role in injuries, mostly in adolescent athletes, because estrogen affects bone strength and ligament laxity. The combination of these factors is why women have a higher incidence of knee injuries, such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, which can then lead to a stronger possibility of developing post-traumatic knee osteoarthritis.
How can women level the playing field? Train! Train for strength and stability because strengthening your muscles not only improves power, but also improves balance and coordination, which will decrease your risk of injury. In addition to training, healthy eating habits are helpful. A well-balanced diet is very important in injury prevention. Check out this fabulous article, “Women’s Health: Risk and Prevention in Sports Injuries“, for more information.
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