Preventing Injuries to Female Athletes – Young Girls More Prone to Injury

Since the government passed Title IX in 1972 the number of girls participating in high school sports has increased 10 fold.  While there are many positives to this statistic, there is also a concerning trend: women/girls have statisically been more prone to injury that their male counterparts.  One major concern is that  girls/women are at much higher risk than men for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears which are serious injuries to the knee that can have life long consequences. The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (reference http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/female_knee) says: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has gathered statistics over a three year period in the early 90s showing that women suffered anterior cruciate ligament injuries more often than men, nearly 4 times as often in basketball, 3 times as often in gymnastics, and nearly 2 and a half times as often in soccer. Orthopedic doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers are concerned and have suggested many reasons so many more women tear their ACL.”

Why are woman/girls more prone to injury?

We are just starting to understand this phenomenon, but there are some physiological differences in men and women that make women more prone to certain types of injuries (like ACL tears). For one thing, women have a wider angle between hips and knees than men do. This causes them to cut differently when playings sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball. In addition, men develop more muscle in their teen years while women actually increase their flexibility.

What can be done to Prevent Injury in Female Athletes?

New training techniques have proven to reduce serious injuries in female athletes. Coaches are getting more aware that female athletes have to be trained differently than men to avoid these injuries.  More emphasis has to be placed on how to run, twist, jump, land, and cut safely in order to avoid injuries to the knees. One excellent book to read is:  The Female Athlete’s Body Book : How to Prevent and Treat Sports Injuries in Women and Girls by Gloria Beim.

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