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Women More Prone to Knee Injuries than Men

We don’t have to tell you that there are some inherent differences between men and women. But did you know that women are more likely than men to suffer a knee injury? And no, it’s not just a result of differences in our physical frames—a recent study suggests that it may be due to differences in our nervous systems.

How? Well, it comes down to two things: how quickly and how accurately our muscles respond to the nerve impulses that control motor function.

The muscles in men respond to nerve impulses at a much faster rate than in women. You can think of it this way: The way men control their nerve impulses is similar to sprinters, who have been trained to use their muscles for large bursts of energy. Women, on the other hand, have nerve impulses similar to those of distance runners who train for endurance. This difference implies that the muscles in women are less likely to respond efficiently during times when needed most, which can lead to injuries such as an ACL tear.

Another study also found that women are less likely than men to have accurate muscle responses to nerve impulses, which can also cause knee injuries. If you’ve ever tripped over a curb and managed to regain your balance, that was the result of your muscles responding correctly and timely. Unfortunately, injury can result if the body selects the wrong muscle response.

As researchers continue to discover why women are more likely to experience these kinds of injuries, it’s important for women to do everything they can to prevent them and keep their knees safe. Here’s how:

  • Warm Up: Stretching your leg muscles before and after you exercise plays a major role in reducing injury.
  • Wear Good Shoes: Shoes that fit well and are appropriate for the activity you’re engaging in can help you prevent injury.
  • Strengthen Your Leg Muscles: Having stronger muscles can help prevent knee injury. Try walking up stairs or hills, riding a stationary bicycle, swimming, or weight training. Aim for low-impact exercises.
  • Try an ACL Injury Prevention Routine: There are specific programs designed to improve strength, balance, and flexibility, which may be beneficial for active women.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Losing weight or maintaining a healthy one can help eliminate extra pressure on your knees. Every extra pound you gain can add approximately four extra pounds of pressure on your knees.

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, rehabilitation, and joint replacement surgery, our sports medicine physicians and the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership can help determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org.

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