STOP! Before you start throwing knives at my head I don’t really think women are wimps. If I did my wife would be waiting for me when I get home to prove me wrong. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Women have demonstrated continued increase in sports endeavors and are much faster, more aggressive and powerful than in past decades. However, secondary to the increased participation in sport, women are sustaining many more injuries.
Females between the ages of 15-25 years are most often injured, with the majority of these injuries are to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Females are 2-5 times more likely than males to sustain an injury to the ACL. This injury is primarily noted in basketball and soccer, but is still prevalent in many other sports such as volleyball, softball and gymnastics. Women over the age of 25 are also more susceptible to recreational sporting injuries compared to males. Many of these injuries are also musculoskeletal in nature, such as ankle sprains, shoulder tendinopathy, and chronic knee pain such as chondromalacia, PFPS and ITB Syndrome. Looking at the glass half-full though,most of these injuries can be prevented with correction of movement dysfunction.
With the increased participation in sport and the commonality of musculoskeletal injuries it is prudent to understand typical movement dysfunction patterns that bring about these injuries. Secondary to genetics, body morphology and muscle recruitment females are susceptible to lower extremity impairment syndrome.
Lower extremity impairment syndrome is a combination of muscle imbalances, joint dysfunction, and poor muscle recruitment patterns from the low back to the foot. The impairment syndrome can be characterized by foot pronation, knee valgus, femoral internal rotation, and lordosis at the low back. When performing functional activities, such as running or cutting, these characterizations are amplified. Ultimately, this leads to ACL tears or the aforementioned chronic pain syndromes.
The good news is these poor biomechanical patterns can be corrected following focused rehabilitation techniques designed to improve muscle synergy as well as joint mechanics. Many studies have been done to show a significant reduction in the incidence of injuries, such as ACL tears, by correcting these impairments. If you are having chronic pain in the lower extremity, it might be a result of lower extremity impairment. This is a good thing, because it can be corrected.