Even a process as simple as walking is surprisingly complicated, as people process large amounts of information and use varying forces to move around obstacles, change direction or simply climb up a step. And when you slip on an icy patch, the need for extremely rapid and accurate muscle response might be all that stands between you and a broken hip.
For some reason, women tend to have knee motions that make them more susceptible to injury. Among other things, when landing from a jump their knees tend to collapse inward more than that of most men. They suffer significantly more ACL injuries during physical activity.
"We're finding differences in nervous system processing that we believe are related to this," Johnson said. "The causes for those differences are unclear, but it may be due either to a biological difference, such as hormones, or a cultural difference such as different exercise and training patterns."
This research was supported by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Research and Education Foundation. Researchers at Marquette University collaborated on the work.
While researchers continue to study what might help address this, Johnson said it's already possible for women to be more aware of these common differences and do exercises that should reduce problems.
Many ACL injury prevention programs incorporate strength, balance, flexibility, and jump training. However, based on these and other findings, women especially athletes should consider training with motions more similar to those of their sport, such as squatting, lunging, jumping or cutting side-to-side.
Use of heavy weights may not really be necessary, Johnson said, so much as mimicking the motions that often cause this injury.
|Contact: Sam Johnson |
Oregon State University