Who is injured more, men or women?

Have you ever wondered if men or women are injured more in sports settings? It is true that both are at risk for sprains, fractures, tendonitis and the like. Nevertheless, there is a gender difference that can be considered when developing preventive strategies.

According to an article in The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, women have up to three times the risk of having an anterior cruciate ligament tear compared to men. In addition, due to their anatomy, they are also prone to other injuries.

However, there are certain circumstances in which men are more exposed to trauma. Therefore, below we want to address in detail gender differences in sports injuries and what to do to prevent them at a general level. Keep reading!

Do women injure themselves more than men?

Most sports fans think that sports injuries are more common among male athletes than female athletes. However, with the increase in the participation of women in high-impact sports activities, this situation has changed.

In fact, a narrative review published in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation details that women injure themselves more, since there are anatomical, hormonal, biomechanical and neuromuscular conditions that affect this. Bone stress injuries and anterior cruciate ligament tear are often the most common problems.

Of course, there are other risk factors that affect men and women equally. The presence of previous injuries, physical condition and overuse are some of the most frequent.

In women, injury to the cruciate ligaments of the knee is more common, which is common in several impact sports.

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Why are women injured more?

In recent years, several investigations have tried to explain why women injure themselves more in sports. Experts believe that it is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors to which they are exposed. Let's look at some of the main hypotheses.

1. Anatomical differences

There are several anatomical differences that increase the risk of sports injuries in women. In particular, they have a wider pelvis than men, which alters the alignment of the knee and ankle. Consequently, the joint supports more stress and increases the risk of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

Also, the intercondylar notch – where the ACL passes through the femur – is narrower in women. Being key to giving stability to the knee, This detail can influence so that there is a propensity to breakage.

In addition to the above, it should be noted that women have less muscle mass and more fat than men, on average. Therefore, both your tendons and ligaments are less protected from possible damage.

2. More flexible ligaments

By nature, women have more flexibility than men. And although in many areas this is an advantage, it can also be the starting point for sports injuries. Since ligaments are more elastic, tend to stretch more with excessive or repetitive joint movements.

3. Hormonal factors

Alterations in estrogen levels lead to a reduction in power and athletic performance. The hypotheses suggest that high levels of this hormone weaken tendons and ligaments, since it decreases its rigidity. Therefore, the chances of ACL tears and other ligament injuries are increased.

4. Nutrient deficiency

Nutrition plays an important role in sports performance and fitness. Still, both men and women tend to have certain deficiencies. For women, studies have found that there is a risk of deficiency of vitamin B12, B3, folic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and proteins.

They also tend to have insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D, two key nutrients for maintaining good bone and muscle health. Therefore, regardless of the sports discipline practiced, it is essential to seek nutritional advice.

5. Movement differences

Last but not least, it should be noted that the movements of female athletes tend to be different from those of men. An example occurs during jumps, where landing is usually flat-footed rather than on the toes. This, although it seems irrelevant, increases pressure on the knee and increases the risk of injury.

What are the most common injuries among female athletes?

In sports such as soccer, an anterior cruciate ligament tear is often the most common injury among women. However, in general sports practice there are other common ones. We detail them below and they are the following:

  • Ankle sprain: twisting or abnormal movement of the ankle can cause this injury. Specifically, the tendons that join the bones in this area suffer, either from overstretching or tearing.
  • Knee injuries: here the anterior cruciate ligament injury and other ligament damage are highlighted. Femoro-patellar syndrome may also appear, which is irritation under the kneecap.
  • Stress fractures: Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, low bone mass levels, and nutrient deficiencies can lead to this situation. It is common among women with anorexia nervosa.
  • Plantar fasciitis: the anatomy of the foot can influence the tendency to suffer inflammation in the thick connective tissue that connects the heel with the toes.
  • Shoulder injuries: such as rotator cuff inflammation, which causes pain and tenderness in the upper body.

Plantar fasciitis is a discomfort that interrupts sports practice. His rehabilitation follows simple exercises that can be performed at home.

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And what are the most common injuries in men?

Well, although it is true that women are injured more frequently in sports, there are some factors that increase the risk in men. In particular, male athletes tend to suffer trauma injuries, typically from contact with another player.

Also, as a publication in Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, men have a higher rate of hip and groin injuries. In women, precisely, the anatomical difference of the hips is what reduces the risk.

In any case, like their female counterparts, male athletes often suffer from ankle sprains, ACL injuries, and tendinitis, among others. However, their prognosis for recovery is usually more favorable.

Basic rules to avoid injuries in both sexes

At this point, it is clear that women are injured more than men in sports, since there are anatomical, hormonal and movement differences that increase the risks.

Still, they are not exempt from these problems. Therefore, in both cases the following must be considered:

  • Do stretching and warm-up exercises before starting sports practice.
  • Participate in preseason training in order to gain endurance, muscular strength and physical performance.
  • Respect rest times and recovery.
  • Ensuring a healthy diet and optimal hydration.
  • Use suitable protection elements, depending on the type of sport, to reduce the risk of injury from trauma.

Women are injured more, but there are ways to reduce the risks

The latest research warns of a higher risk of injury in female athletes. However, proper physical preparation considerably reduces the odds.

That is why it is essential to have the support of a professional trainer, a nutritionist and an orthopedic surgeon. Together, these professionals will guide the best strategies to avoid problems.