Injury Prevention for Female Athletes
From the tennis world to the Boston Marathon, female athletes are dominating the competition. Unfortunately, they are also leading in another area of sports performance: injuries.
Female athletes are two to six more times as likely as their male counterparts to experience an injury. These injuries are more common for a variety of reasons, including:
- Training programs designed for men
- Anatomical differences in hip to knee alignment due to pelvis width
- Hormones that can make ligaments more lax
- A different gait than men
- More flexibility (which can lead to instability)
While there’s no way to change hormonal or biological differences, changes to training programs can help keep female athletes in the game. To lower their risk for injuries, female athletes should ensure their training program includes the following elements.
Core Stability Exercises
A strong back and abdomen improves balance, making it less likely that you’ll shift your weight in ways that could hurt your knee. Better balance also means a lower chance for falls and better biomechanics as you run, jump, and land. A stronger core may also be linked to stronger and faster throwing or swimming.
Core stability doesn’t mean just doing crunch after crunch. You and your trainer should mix it up with additional challenges like using a balance board and plyometrics.
A Focus on Body Mechanics
If you participate in a sport like volleyball or basketball, you need to know how to jump and land safely. Ensure your training focuses on techniques like soft landings, flexed muscles when you land, and landing with your feet directly below you. ACL tears are the most common injury in female athletes and are often the result of a poor landing.
You can also use body mechanics to improve your running gait, increasing your speed and reducing strain on your knees, and your agility, which is important for sports like tennis and soccer.
Safe Strengthening and Conditioning
Building up muscle around the knee and other injuries can improve their stability and help reduce your risk for injury. Your strengthening and conditioning routine should include functional exercises that help you build up strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, core, and glutes. You are likely to benefit more from lunges and squats than leg extensions or leg curls.
A safe program includes periods of rest for your muscles to recover and rebuild. Without rest, you put yourself at risk of strains and tears.
At Bon Secours, our certified athletic trainers design personalized programs for female athletes based on their body mechanics and sport. We provide comprehensive sports performance training, including sports nutrition.