Title IX, an act passed by the US government in 1972, gave girls and boys the equal opportunity to play sports. The rate of sports injuries, however, is very different for the two genders. Girls are more likely to suffer from sports related injuries than boys because of biomechanical and anatomical differences. Many believe that this epidemic may have to do with girls’ attitudes toward injury as well. Knowing the facts and getting proper training
will help prevent girls’ sports injuries.
Hormonal differences between boys and girls surge during puberty. Boys experience an increase in testosterone that allows them to gain muscle quickly without much strength training. On the other hand, girls experience an increase in estrogen that makes them more flexible as well as prone to gaining fat instead of muscle. Without strong, developed muscles to support flexible joints and ligaments, girls are more likely to suffer from overextensions and tears.
After puberty, boys and girls develop different body shapes. Girls tend to have hips that extend wider than their knees, potentially creating a knock-kneed stance where the knees touch but the ankles do not. In addition, girls may have weaker hip muscles and quadriceps that dominate over hamstrings. These traits cause girls to stand more upright and overextend their knees. This posture can create stress on the knees, affecting the ACL, shins, and ankles.
Girls may be more likely to hide the pain that they experience. They may withhold important information from their doctor in order to stay in season or keep their spot on the team. Another factor that may cause sports injuries is the increased stress on athletes to be a master at one sport. Girls are often encouraged to focus on a single sport year round at a high intensity. By doing so, they put stress on the same muscles, making them more susceptible to stress fractures and fatigue that can lead to injury.
Understanding why girls get hurt so frequently is the first step to preventing injury. The next step is creating an injury prevention plan. Two of the most important tips that girls should keep in mind to stay healthy are having an effective warm-up and strength training routine. Using a personal coach is a great way for girls to get individual attention, proper training, and tips for preventing injury.
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