Health and Fitness: Girls more likely to suffer knee injuries |

Health and Fitness: Girls more likely to suffer knee injuries

Kyler Crouse
Special to the Tribune

High school sports are a great way to promote physical activity and have fun. Participation in high school sports continues to increase and is a good way to give young people a positive physical activity experience, hopefully one they will continue with into adulthood.

However, as participation increases, sports related injuries may also increase, which can impose significant burdens on the athlete, their families and the medical system. Among the most common sports related injuries are at the knee.

According to one study, knee injuries account for over 15 percent of all high school sports injuries and often requiring expensive surgical treatment. Arguably the most frustrating aspect is that once the season is lost there is not an opportunity to replay a senior season. Any methods that can reduce the likelihood of an injury should be investigated further. It is up to coaches and trainers to better understand knee injuries in high schools athletes and what can be done to reduce the likelihood and severity of these injuries.

A recent study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal examined 20 different high schools across nine different sports for both boys and girls. This went on from the 2005-2006 season until the 2010-2011 season and included data from 11,268,426 competitions or practices.

Overall, boys sustained 70.8 percent of all knee injuries, with football accounting for 62 percent of these injuries. Although, girls had higher knee injury rates than boys in each sex-comparable sport.

Girls’ knee injuries were more often treated with surgery than boys, and overall knee injuries were significantly more likely to be treated with surgery compared with all other injuries. According to the study, the cost of an ACL reconstructive surgery was over $5,000.

One explanation for the higher rate is that girls tend to develop quadriceps strength while not increasing hamstring strength. With very strong quads overpowering the hamstrings, an imbalance occurs leading to undue stress on the ACL. A wider pelvis compared to men also appears to be one factor that causes the knee to be less stable and under more stress, although more research is needed to know for sure.

While contact injuries may just be part of the game, non-contact injuries have a chance to be reduced. The authors stated that, “Our study, the largest, most nationally representative study of knee injuries among U.S. high school athletes to our knowledge, demonstrates the importance of knee injuries and the need to develop more effective injury prevention programs to reduce the occurrence of sports-related knee injuries.”

To combat these problems the researchers suggested that, “As bracing has limited abilities to prevent ACL injuries, screening measures and therapies addressing neuromuscular and biochemical risk factors may be adapted to reduce ACL and other knee injuries.”

While injuries can never be completely avoided, screening for muscle imbalances and a solid safe strength training program can make the difference between playing in the game or watching on the sideline.

Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in performance enhancement and post rehabilitation. Visit for more information.

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