Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Risk factors for women

Knowing about knees
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There are several reasons women are more vulnerable than men to knee injuries, experts say. Among the risk factors:

Anatomy: Women have wider pelvises and smaller ligaments. Their thigh bones run from their pelvises into the knee joints at sharper angles, which puts more strain on the knee. And a woman's intercondylar notch - the notch in the femur through which the ACL passes - is generally narrower than a man's, which puts more stress on the ligament.

Hormones: There's some evidence that hormones influence the flexibility of women's ligaments throughout the menstrual cycle.

Biomechanics: Men rely on their hamstrings to absorb impact and stabilize the knee when they jump, land and pivot. Women rely on the quadriceps - the muscle on the front of the thigh - because their hamstrings are only about a third as strong as men's. That imbalance lets the tibia (shinbone) slide in front of the femur (thigh bone) more easily, which stretches and sometimes tears the ACL. Women are also more likely to land with their knees pointing in or out.

Peggy O'Farrell

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Knowing about knees
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