The muscular and skeletal differences between men and women are important when considering the risk of knee injuries in sports and physical fitness.
A number of studies published over the years have focused on determining the extent to which the physical and hormonal factors play a role in increase the risk of knee injuries in female athletes.
For instance, in young female athletes, the risk of ACL injury is higher than in male athletes. To develop more effective treatments, it is important to have a better understanding of the physical and hormonal differences between men and women.
Understanding Hip Angle Differences
The Q-angle, or hip angle, is important in understanding the movement of the legs and the stress placed on the legs. As you can see in the picture, women naturally have an increased hip angle, which may lead to the development of knee conditions.
The increased hip angle means the thigh muscles are putting more stress on the knee cap, whilst the ligaments are working harder to align the knee joint. This causes degeneration of bones, ligaments, and tendons in the knee cap, which can lead to pain.
A study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that women who have a narrower knee joint space and body mass index (BMI) higher than the average, with overextension in the joints, had a greater risk of ACL injury than their male counterparts.
The study highlights that the risk of ACL injury is higher during the pre-ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle. This is likely as the hormonal changes influence the composition of the ligaments during the menstrual cycle.
Another study on 205 female basketball, soccer, and volleyball players supported the theory that increased joint deformity, and decreased muscular and nerve control contribute to ACL risk.
Overcoming Structure Problems
The use of foot insoles is recommended to overcome structural problems. Foot insoles such as MASS4D® can help decrease stress under the knee cap by reducing excessive rotation of the leg and thigh bones, and gradually improving the hip angle.
MASS4D® insoles can help prevent numerous foot injuries and posture issues.
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Reference: Beynnon D. B., Shultz J. S. (2008) Anatomic Alignment, Menstrual Cycle Phase, and The Risk of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury. Journal of Athletic Training: September/October 2008, Vol. 43, No. 5, pp. 541-542.
Reference: Hewett, T. E., Myer, G. D., Ford, K. R. (2005) Biomechanical Measures of Neuromuscular Control and Valgus Loading of the Knee Predict Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Risk in Female Athletes: A Prospective Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine: 2005, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 492-501.
Reference: Murphy F. D., Connolly J. A. D., Beynnon D. B. (2003) Risk factors for lower extremity injury: a review of the literature. British Journal of Sports Medicine: 2003, Vol. 37, No. 1, doi:10.1136/bjsm.37.1.13.