There are certain fundamental differences that exist between men’s and women’s physiology. Although leagues now exist for both men and women to play the same sports, the injuries each gender suffers are often different – which is due to sheer anatomical differences.
Overall, orthopedic injuries affect women more frequently than men. Upon a closer look, it is easy to see the patterns that reveal why injuries are more common to women.
Physiological Differences in Women
There are a number of factors that explain the higher rates of musculoskeletal injury in women, including the following tendencies of women as compared to men:
- Higher levels of estrogen
- Less muscle mass
- More body fat
- Greater flexibility because of looser ligaments
- Less powerful muscles
- A wider pelvis (for childbearing)
- Different alignment of the knee and ankle due to the wider pelvic area
- ACL canal in the knee is narrower
- More upright stance while running
These fundamental variances help explain why women move differently than men. Even when landing from a jump, women land more upright, with feet and knees closer together.
Types of Injuries Suffered
There are four basic types of orthopedic injuries that occur more frequently in women than men:
- Sprained ankle
- Knee injury
- Stress fracture
- Plantar fasciitis (bottom of the foot)
While ankle sprains are the most common injury for both genders, it is far more frequently seen from women wearing high-heeled shoes and falling. Additionally, women’s hips, buttocks, and upper legs are typically weaker when they run, jump, or land, so more stress is placed upon the knee – which can more easily result in a torn ACL.
Men have typically larger bones and greater muscle mass than women, so stress fractures happen more frequently to women. Additionally, factors such as hormonal influences and menstrual irregularities in females contribute to lower bone mass and density.
Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries
A program called the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS) has pinpointed high-risk patterns when athletes are jumping and landing. As a whole, due to the various physiological and anatomical differences that exist between men and women, women tend to have higher LESS scores than men – indicating that they are at greater risk of an injury.
The best way to avoid orthopedic injury is by increasing focus on strength and neuromuscular training. Weight training can help to lower the frequency of these types of injuries for people of virtually all ages, including adolescents.
Sports Doctors in Colorado
If you have a musculoskeletal injury or wish to prevent getting them, seek medical assistance from our team at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence. We are the official orthopedic center for the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs.
The medical professionals at this office are board-certified and are trained and to treat orthopedic injuries of all kinds, from broken bones to sore muscles to torn ligaments and beyond. We treat amateur athletes, professional athletes, Olympians, and even those who have age-related or overuse injuries.