The most common sports injuries in women are ACL tears, stress fractures, knee injuries, lateral epicondylitis, tendonitis, shin splints, and shoulder injuries.
Female athletes most commonly experience sports injuries such as ACL tears, stress fractures, knee injuries, lateral epicondylitis, tendonitis, shin splints, and shoulder injuries. According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are many reasons why women experience a higher incidence of sports injuries compared to men. The basic premise for this is the difference in body structures and movements.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the Definition of a Sports Injury?
- 2 Most Common Types of Sports Injuries For Women
- 2.1 Ruptures and Tears of the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament)
- 2.2 Ankle Sprains
- 2.3 Female Stress Fractures
- 2.4 Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)
- 2.5 Female Concussions
- 2.6 Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
- 2.7 Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
- 2.8 Shoulder Problems and Injuries
- 2.9 Female Wrist Sprains or Fractures
- 2.10 Spinal Injuries
- 3 What Risk Factors Do Female Athletes Face?
- 3.1 Female Hormonal Balance
- 3.2 Bone Density
- 3.3 Risk of ACL Injuries
- 3.4 Women’s Body Image and Disordered Eating
- 3.5 Differences in Biomechanics
- 3.6 Female Iron Deficiency
- 3.7 Psychological Considerations
- 3.8 Facing Burnout and Overtraining
- 3.9 What is the Female Triad?
- 3.10 Risk Factors That Are Sports-Specific
- 3.11 Proper Technique and Level of Physical Activity Level
- 3.12 Acute Trauma and Injuries Related to Overuse
- 4 FAQ
- 4.1 Why do female athletes get injured more?
- 4.2 What are the top 3 most common sports injuries?
- 4.3 What is the most common sports injury?
- 4.4 Do females heal faster than males?
- 4.5 What are the top 5 most painful sports injuries?
- 4.6 Which sport has the worst injuries?
- 4.7 What are the risk factors of injury in female athletes?
- 4.8 Why do human female athletes have more knee injuries than male athletes?
- 4.9 Are female athletes more prone to injuries?
What is the Definition of a Sports Injury?
Sports injuries is the term utilized to refer to the type of injuries that are most frequently seen while exercising or engaging in sports. However, sports injuries are not limited to only athletes, anyone can experience them even when performing any type of physical activity such as gardening or even at work.
Sports injuries affect the musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of a network of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and various tissues that allow the body to move and gain physical stability.
Most Common Types of Sports Injuries For Women
Women experience the following types of injuries more frequently than men:
Ruptures and Tears of the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament)
The ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament is located in the center of the knee. It is responsible for the forward motion and rotation of your shin bone. ACL ruptures or tears are frequently experienced after sustaining impact or when performing sudden pivots, jump landings, or stops. Women tend to land on their feet in a more upright position, which is different compared to men.
Ankle sprains in women are more common due to a greater ligamentous laxity of the lateral ankle compared to men. Additionally, since women have a higher level of estrogen, they tend to have more body fat and less muscle mass. By having less powerful muscles and higher flexibility of looser ligaments, they are more prone to ankle sprains.
Female Stress Fractures
Stress fractures usually stem from the overuse of a particular body part. Typically, the bone becomes injured due to muscle fatigue. The chances of women experiencing stress fractures increase after age 30 when bone mass starts to decline. Women are more susceptible to stress fractures compared to men, particularly in the feet and lower legs. Training gradually can help prevent stress fractures.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)
One of the most common reasons for knee pain in women athletes is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). It results from the imbalances in the motion that controls tracking of the patella when performing knee extension and flexion. The woman can experience pain around or behind the patella that gets worse when doing knee flexions, running, squatting, and using the stairs.
Recent studies on female concussions reported in the noted publication, Nature, suggest that female soccer players are two times more likely to experience a concussion compared to males. Concussions are different in women because they experience the condition longer, have weaker neck muscles, hormones affect the outcome, and may experience more symptoms than men.
Since the signs of concussions in females are sometimes not as obvious as it is in men, women who practice sports are more often left to continue the game. This can be a mistake depending on the degree of the concussion.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
During a tennis elbow injury, the tendons of the elbow are overloaded by repetitive motions of the arm and wrist. Women usually experience pain in the tendons attached to the forearm muscles. The painful sensation can also travel to the forearm and wrist.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
Women who experience shin splints are usually runners, dancers, and those in the military. It commonly occurs when their activity levels are suddenly intensified or increased without proper preparation. The increase in the intensity of a particular activity causes muscles, bone tissue, and tendons to become overworked. Symptoms include tenderness and pain along the inner part of the shinbone.
Shoulder Problems and Injuries
According to the National Library of Medicine, women are more likely to experience overuse-related shoulder injuries compared to men. They are more common in women who practice college sports. Shoulder instability, rotator cuff injuries, and acromioclavicular sprains are commonly seen in women.
Female Wrist Sprains or Fractures
The wrist is a delicate structure composed of a complex network of nerves, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Women commonly experience a distal radius fracture, which impacts the radius bone of the forearm. Another common type of wrist injury is the scaphoid fracture, which involves any of the eight tiny carpal bones.
These types of fractures require careful recovery to regain full function. It is recommended that women wear braces that may provide the support they need to withstand the demands of certain athletic activities.
Since women have been increasingly integrating into organized sports, spinal injuries have become a growing concern. Women are more susceptible to spinal injuries because of their unique interaction of nutritional, hormonal, and mechanical factors. Female activities that require a higher level of spinal motion include dance, figure skating, and gymnastics.
What Risk Factors Do Female Athletes Face?
There are many reasons why female athletes are more prone to sports injuries. Common risk factors include:
Female Hormonal Balance
Since women have higher levels of estrogen, they have less power to perform athletic activities. Estrogen can weaken ligaments and tendons, thus creating a risk for injury. During puberty and the menstrual cycle, females experience a rise in estrogen, which creates a higher risk of injury during these times.
Low bone mineral density in women can weaken the skeleton and disrupt the bone-building physiology of the body. Female athletes can develop osteoporosis because of menstrual dysfunction and poor eating habits. Women athletes have more pressure in organized sports to keep their body fat low, which can lead them to nutritional imbalances.
For proper bone density, it is important for women to follow a balance nutrition plan, get proper rest after exertion, and build muscle mass. Strong bones prevent injuries and aid in a quick recovery if an injury does occur.
Risk of ACL Injuries
Together with damage to the knee ligaments such as ACL tears, women are more likely to experience patellofemoral syndrome, which is a condition under the knee cap. Women can prevent ACL injuries by using supportive braces that prevent the knee from overextending and twisting. It is suggested that women practice proper landing techniques to help them keep their knees stabilized.
Women’s Body Image and Disordered Eating
Women are generally more concerned with their body image and are more likely to experience disordered eating. Being unsatisfied with their body shape and weight can lead women to adopt harmful eating habits.
Differences in Biomechanics
Women athletes move differently compared to their male counterparts. For instance, women tend to land with their feet flat after jumping rather than on the balls of their feet. In addition, women also run in an upright position and use one foot when changing direction. Female reflexes are also slightly slower, which makes it more difficult to stabilize themselves during sudden motions.
Female Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency in female athletes is due to monthly menstruation. When the condition is severe, it can cause anemia and a shortage of red blood cells. Low iron levels can cause women to become weaker and fatigued, which is a risk factor for injuries.
Iron is an essential component of myoglobin and hemoglobin, which are blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen. It is an important part of the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to cells and muscles throughout the body. This nutrient is also essential for maximum energy and a functional metabolic system.
Low iron levels can be improved by following a proper diet and supplementing with iron pills. By having proper iron levels, female athletes have the ability to recover faster from physical exertion, thus lowering the risk of injuries.
Compared to male athletes, women who practice sports often face psychological challenges due to a combination of stressors that are related to being a female in a male-dominated field. Stressors can lead to a range of psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and other conditions.
Regardless of gender, injured athletes suffer from some level of frustration and depression. Low self-esteem can develop when the injury interferes with independence in daily activities. By adopting good coping mechanisms, both men and women can recover well from injuries.
Facing Burnout and Overtraining
No matter the gender, athletes who overtrain and experience burnout are more likely to get injured. The body needs time to rest and recover from physical exertion. During recovery from an injury, it is also important to pace oneself when managing the demands of physical therapy.
What is the Female Triad?
In athletics, the female triad refers to the relationship between low energy availability, weak bone density, and menstrual dysfunction. It is common amongst young women who are active in competitive sports. This condition can be devastating for women leading to eating disorders, depression, and weak structures that can easily become injured.
Risk Factors That Are Sports-Specific
Women who compete in basketball are likely to suffer concussions and ACL injuries. Cheerleaders often experience stress fractures and ACL issues. Females in gymnastics can experience tendinitis, sprains, and herniated discs. Those who practice running are also exposed to stress fractures and ACL injuries. Swimmers can experience shoulder issues and damage to the rotator cuff.
Proper Technique and Level of Physical Activity Level
To avoid injuries, both men and women have to learn proper techniques when training and participating in sports. The level of physical activity also has to be monitored to ensure overexertion is avoided. Sports injuries are more likely to occur when the body is overworked and when proper technique is not followed.
Acute Trauma and Injuries Related to Overuse
Acute trauma and overuse injuries are the two main categories of sports-related injuries. Overuse injuries are common among female collegiate athletes and are not frequently reported. Acute trauma is common in competitive sports, with basketball players being the group that most frequently suffers incidents. Female athletes are more exposed to acute trauma and overuse injuries depending on what sport they practice.
Why do female athletes get injured more?
A delicate physical structure compared to men makes women more susceptible to injuries. Specifically, weaker muscle mass and lower bone density make females more likely to get injured. Additionally, the way females move is different than men, which makes them have a higher risk to become injured.
What are the top 3 most common sports injuries?
The three most common female sports injuries are ACL strains and tears, stress fractures, and sprains of the wrists or ankles.
What is the most common sports injury?
The most common sports injury women experience is ACL sprains and tears.
Do females heal faster than males?
Men generally heal faster than women because they have greater muscle mass and can build muscle more efficiently.
What are the top 5 most painful sports injuries?
Five of the worst and most painful sports injuries include a torn ACL, hamstring injuries, concussions, dislocated knee, and tears of the patellar tendon.
Which sport has the worst injuries?
Basketball is known to produce the worst sports injuries in both men and women.
What are the risk factors of injury in female athletes?
Female athletes have less bone density, muscle mass, and strength. They are also prone to injuries due to the way they move their bodies compared to men. Women also have a higher propensity to injuries due to their hormonal balance and overall body structure.
Why do human female athletes have more knee injuries than male athletes?
Women experience more injuries than men because they have weaker muscle mass, have lower bone density, and move their bodies in such ways that make them more prone to injuries.
Are female athletes more prone to injuries?
Yes, generally, female athletes are more likely to become injured compared to men. There are many factors that make women have a higher risk for injury when participating in physical activity.