If you have ever stumbled and caught yourself before landing on your face, or if you’ve ever tripped over a rise in the sidewalk, but managed to avoid falling, you are already aware of just how important it is to be quick and steady on your feet. To do that you need to have strong, healthy knees. However, recent research indicates that how women are going about strengthening their knees could actually be increasing their risk of a knee injury.
Approximately one in four women are going to experience knee pain daily. Earlier research shows women are more prone than men to knee injuries. Recent research confirms this. Loyola University Medical Center researchers set out to explain why this is so. After analyzing the jumps of a number of athletes, they were able to determine that the leaping position of female athletes increased their risk of injury. This was especially true with ACL tears, which is a major knee ligament.
Women have a tendency to land with their feet slightly rotated inwards and knees straighter compared to men who land with their feet slightly rotated outwards and knees more bent, which is a better position for the knees to absorb the shock.
When the experts had female athletes complete a six week training program that was focused on changing how they jumped, those women had a 50 percent reduction in the likelihood of suffering an ACL injury.
The program had numerous exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knees, which is critical in reducing the risk of injury. The researchers went on to explain that a training program that focused on teaching women good landing techniques and the development of the hamstrings could create muscle memory that would stay with the athlete in the future.
It is unfortunate that some of the factors that increase our risk of suffering a knee injury can’t be changed. For example, women have smaller ligaments than men and they have different hormones. However, doing exercises that strengthen your glutes, hips and quads can help to reduce pain and keep your knees safe from suffering an injury in the future. When the muscles that surround the knee are strong, it takes the pressure of the joints and lets you participate in more activities with fewer aches and pains.
Exercises like lunges and squats are important. Make sure you have a smart fitness regime. You might love to do plyometric exercises such as the jumping squats, but if you have a degenerative condition or you have arthritis this is not wise as it puts you at risk of suffering and ACL knee injury. Instead, opt for a low impact fitness regime.
Even when you work hard at reducing your risk of getting a knee injury, it can still happen. In some cases, you may need to have surgery.