Women are four to six times more likely to suffer from ACL knee injuries compared to men.
Women don't have to be a hard-core athlete to suffer a knee injury, either. Anything from playing a leisurely pick-up game of soccer to running too quickly down the stairs can cause the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) to stretch beyond its normal range, resulting in a tear.
Seeking more information about this discovery, Organic Authority reached out to Dr. Armin Tehrany, Knee Specialist, Founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, to find out why women's knees are more susceptible to injury and which preventative measures they can take.
"There are a few reasons why women are more likely to suffer ACL tears than men," says Dr. Tehrany. "One is anatomy. The space around the ACL is smaller and narrower in women than men. Also, women have wider hips which leads to more stress on the ACL. Another is biomechanics. Women have more flexible joints, which leads to too much mobility. Also certain muscles, like the hip, buttock, thigh, may not be as strong as men, leading to too much more pressure on the knee when landing from a jump or change in direction."
Besides anatomy, there is also a hereditary component involved. Meaning, if your father or mother suffered from knee problems, then there is a higher chance you will too.
"Women are more prone to an ACL tear in the first part of their menstrual cycle," says Dr. Tehrany. "Studies have shown that women are more at risk of injuring their ACL during the preovulatory phase of their menstrual cycle. Exactly why this is more likely is not fully known, however, it is likely that the increase in estradiol, a female estrogen hormone, during the preovulatory phase can be to blame. It is believed that hormones have an effect on the extent of muscle stiffness and contractions of the knee. This, in turn, can make the knee more vulnerable to injury."
Maybe more reason to stay in and treat yourself to self-care during that time of the month?
How to Prevent Potential Injuries
Women might have biology stacked against them, but there are certain measures they can take in order to prevent potential knee injuries. Dr. Tehrany suggests avoiding heavy impact, repetitive loads, and deep squats as well as high-impact sports like football, basketball, and soccer.
As for "safe" fitness options? Dr. Tehrany says swimming and walking are safe bets. "Also, ACL prevention programs including plyometrics have been shown to be valuable."
If you suspect that you might have torn your ACL, then you'll know it by its popping sound, severe pain, loss of motion, and swelling. "If you experience these symptoms, it is best to see a doctor right away," says Dr. Tehrany.
Although as a woman you might be more prone to knee injuries, it doesn't mean that you should stop living your life, especially if you like an active lifestyle.
As Dr. Tehrany says, "Enjoy your life, be as active as you can, learn to prevent injuries, and see a specialist if you have pain or instability. And, above all, don't worry."
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