Sports Injuries Increase in Girls at MaturationGender and maturation are two key factors in sports success. In this study, knee motion and motor control of middle-school and high school athletes were compared. All athletes were soccer or basketball players. Males were compared to females.
Landing from a jump was the activity studied. Three-dimensional knee motion was measured in a laboratory. The study included 100 girls and 81 boys. All were on a school sports team. None had a previous knee injury. Knee motion between boys and girls when landing a jump was the same before the children hit puberty. After puberty, girls had much more inward knee motion.
Strength and coordination didn't increase in girls after a growth spurt like they did in boys. In fact, girls showed a decrease in muscle control from early to late puberty. The opposite is true for boys. They gained greater control as they matured.
Girls have a much higher rate of knee injuries than boys of the same age in the same sport. This study shows that girls land jumps differently from boys as they mature. The authors think girls lose coordination and control when these skills don't keep up with bone growth.
The changes in joint position and force of muscle contraction make a difference when landing from a jump. These changes may account for the increased rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female athletes.
Timothy E. Hewett, PhD, et al. Decrease in Neuromuscular Control About the Female Knee With Maturation in Female Athletes. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 8. Pp. 1601-1608.
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