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Knee Injuries in the Female Athlete

The injury rate of knees of female athletes is significantly higher than males; four to six times higher in fact.  The reason for this is multi-causal.  However, there are two main factors that contribute to this.  First, the anatomy of the female knee, women have a large angle between wider hip and the angle of the pelvis.  This puts increased stress on the anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial cruciate ligaments MCL).  Disruption of these ligaments results in significant loss of function increased risk of arthritis long term.  Second, the female athlete tends to have less neuromuscular control.  The main presentation of this is that women tend to use their quadriceps (thigh muscles in front) more than their hamstrings (thigh muscles in back) resulting in increased stress on the ACL and MCL.  This results in increased injuries without contact, such as jumping and decelerating.  

Now the important question, what to do about it.  A physical therapist can help to improve muscle balance and neuromuscular control to decreased risk for ACL injuries.  A PT can improve control with landing and running to not only decrease risk of injury but improve performance.  By strengthening a muscle on the lateral thigh, the Gluteus Medius, this will help prevent knee collapse and decrease stress on the ACL.  If you or someone you know has questions or needs help contact Atlas Physical Therapy today.