Training can be the most fulfilling activity you do; it fulfills your confidence every time you beat your previous record and improve with time. But one of the things that can set you back is an injury. The truth is that injuries are not created equal when it comes to males and females. There are certain injuries that seem to repeat themselves in each gender depending on the biomechanics of the athlete. Another factor that adds to the variety of these injuries is the nature of the sport. While weight resistance training tends to cause joint injuries, other forms of training, such as running, can cause tendon injuries.
The 5 Most Common Athletic Injuries in Women
In this blog, we’re providing an overview of the most common injuries female athletes tend to experience, how to prevent them, and information about the typical recovery from those injuries.
1. Stress Fractures
One of the reasons why women are more prone to getting stress fractures is their lack of mass which helps absorb shock. Other contributing factors are the muscle’s mass density, bone density, and the smaller width of female bones. While stress fractures can happen in any sport, they are especially common in sports such as weight lifting, where you are required to generate force from the ground and catch the bar in positions that might put you at a higher risk of a stress fracture. This usually happens to thinner bones such as the shin, ulna, and radius. Because these bones are thinner and more responsible for shock absorption, stress fractures are more likely to happen.
Stress Fracture Prevention
One of the main causes of stress fractures is that the bones were not ready to receive the amount of stress they receive. Therefore, it is important to gradually increase the intensity and gauge the level of intensity it takes when performing an activity.
Nutrition is also an important factor in preventing stress fracture. A diet rich in calcium and minerals is best.
Moreover, learning the movement and the bone structure of your own body is important for future training. If a person experiences multiple stress fractures in the same spot, it is time to think about alternative ways to go about that particular movement in the future.
Stress Fracture Recovery
Stress fractures often happen to children and are one of the reasons why their bones grow thicker and stronger. However, for adult females, it is important to take the time to heal and eat enough calories to not only be able to generate force, but also to gain more mass for better shock absorption. Serious stress fractures will require more time to heal with possible medical treatments that can last up to several years, but the most common stress fractures take just a few weeks to heal.
2. ACL Strains and Tears
Some of the most common injuries that happen to both males and females but especially females, are ACL strains and tears. Your ACL is one of the major ligaments in your knee. It is crucial to understand that the knee is a hinge joint, which means it can only function in one single direction. ACLs, or the anterior cruciate ligaments, are an important functioning stabilizer for the knee. One of the worst ACL injuries is an ACL pivot where the shin and the hip move in opposite directions. The most common types of sports that cause an ACL tear are sports where the knee pivots such as soccer, volleyball, and basketball among many others.
ACL Strains and Tears Prevention
While you can never entirely prevent the injury from happening, there are certain measures you can take in order to decrease your chances of having an ACL strain or tear. One of the first steps is properly warming up. It does not have to be strenuous but warming up should prime your body to move in various directions. For instance, if you are a runner, it is best to warm up with movements that help align your shins with your femur in a way that does not interrupt that pattern of your knee. In addition to that, make sure you are not overusing your knees. Playing one sport repetitively and not another sport can cause overuse.
ACL Strains and Tears Recovery
There are degrees to an ACL tear and, in most cases, it does not require surgery. Almost all ACL tears benefit from the RICE method which includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This will help small tears in the ligament to heal faster.
3. Pulled Muscles
Pulled muscles are also one of the most common injuries that happen in females. Pulled muscles happen when a muscle is either overstretched or overworked which causes a tear in the muscle’s fibers. It can be a painful experience and cause immediate dysfunction in the muscle. One of the most common ways this happens is during running, when female runners experience a pulled groin, quadriceps, hamstring, or calf muscle. Pulled muscles are also common in jumping sports where force is generated from the ground when jumping up, such as in running, football, basketball, and soccer.
Pulled Muscle Prevention
There are many ways to go about preventing pulled muscles, but gradually increasing the load will definitely help women prevent pulled muscles from happening. A diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals will also help muscles remain supple and flexible during training and in performance.
Pulled Muscle Recovery
A pulled muscle will eventually heal on its own. Ice baths and creams dedicated to healing pulled muscles will help the pulled muscle heal faster, and can help prevent as well.
4. Herniated Disc or a Disc Bulge
A herniated disc or disc bulge is common in women because of the decreased muscle mass protecting the spine in women and the decreased density of female bones compared to men.
A herniated disc happens when the degree to which the spine needs to flex is limited. If the spinal vertebrae pieces are loaded with external resistance, such as weights, then the discs tend to slightly travel off from the spine causing major discomfort.
Herniated Disc Prevention
One of the most important things that every female athlete needs to do is to maintain good posture while exercising. This will improve your balance and even strengthen your back to prevent an injury from happening. When training, always try to engage the muscles associated with maintaining a good posture. These include the abdominal wall, the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Herniated Disc Recovery
Contrary to popular belief, a herniated disc does not mean that the back is broken. It could be an unhinged disc and a nerve ending that is misplaced due to the bulge. Yoga is a very good way to work around the injury. When it comes to training around the injury or training after the injury, it is important to learn from the injury and how it happened; a herniated disc is often an issue of weak core and other muscles.
5. Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee or patellofemoral syndrome is a very common injury that is characterized by a sharp pain in the frontal part of the knee cap that usually gets sharper with more aggressive training. This is mainly caused by the knee cap going out of alignment. What causes the sharp pain is the friction between the supporting bones and the tendons.
Runner’s Knee Prevention
It is important to strengthen the weak link that causes the pain in the first place. Therefore, it’s crucial that the person should strengthen the glute muscles effectively. Another tip is to gradually increase the intensity of your workout. If a person is a runner, then they should gradually increase their pace and speed. In the case of strength training, female athletes should gradually increase the weight, speed, and intensity of their workout.
Runner’s Knee Recovery
In order to train around the injury, it is best to stay away from any movement that causes discomfort and strengthen the muscles that work with the knee, such as the quadriceps. To heal the knee, resting for extra days is important. Capsaicin solution creams will also help when the pain is too much to bear in movements such as running uphill and squats.
When it comes to women, it’s important to understand the anatomical characteristics that cause athletic injuries. Therefore, careful and smart training is an important step to preventing injuries. Most injuries are temporary, so it is best to do what you can to work around them. Educating yourself on why the injury occurred is also critical in preventing or minimizing future injuries. It is vital as an athlete to grow stronger from your injuries and not let them hold you down.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
Don’t let an orthopedic injury keep you from living life to its fullest. Our trusted, respectful team of orthopedic specialists is here to help diagnose your problem and develop a custom care plan that fits with your lifestyle.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.