Women suffer more sports injuries than men
Sportswomen experience “dramatically” higher rates of injury than men because programs designed for “young adult while males” fail to take into account “intrinsic biological differences” between the sexes, according to the Canadian study.
Consequently women are more likely to get injured while competing because their bodies are not able to cope with the demands, said Dr Vicki Harber, of Alberta University’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, who led the study.
Comparing adolescents, she reported: “Girls suffer higher injury incidence rates compared to boys, particularly in sports such as cross-country running, gymnastics and soccer.
“Injuries to the knee are greater in girls compared to boys with soccer having the highest injury rate, followed by basketball, field hockey, softball and volleyball.”
In particular, females have more flexible ligaments and lower muscular strength. As a result women are two to six times more likely than men to sustain anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, which are mainly caused by rapid deceleration or changes in direction.
Women should be taught “sports-specific movement patterns, flexibility and strengthening of muscle groups at multiple joints” to prevent such injuries, she suggested.
She advised: “Many of the injuries women suffer because of this are preventable. Women are not men, just like children are not small adults.
“Training programs are not a ‘one size fits all’.”
Dr Harber also said that the rate of eating disorders among sportswomen was “much higher” than among other women, particularly in endurance sports like long distance running and “aesthetic” sports like ice skating and gymnastics.
This can also lead to periods temporarily stopping, she warned. She has written a guide called The Female Athlete Perspective to address the issues.