The results may come as a surprise. For athletes competing in the same sports at the same level of competition, men tend to be injured more often than women.
A 12-month study was made on injuries among cross-country skiers, swimmers, long-distance runners and soccer players. The study found that more male athletes than female athletes reported at least one acute injury at 44% (Men) vs. 35% (Women).
Sixty-nine percent of men versus 51% of women reported overuse injuries. There was only a small difference in gender-related risk for acute and overuse injuries between the sexes. The more significant gender difference in the results is on the location of the injury in the body.
There was also a significant gender difference in the specific injuries in sports. The most commonly injured areas of the body, however, for both sexes were by far the ankle, knee, and back. These types of acute injuries can be caused by a wide variety of sports and activities, from passive activities like walking or jogging, to intensely physically demanding activities like bodybuilding and weightlifting.
When participating in contact sports the number of injuries dramatically increases for both men and women, with torn ligaments and tendons becoming the most common ailment.
Why is it that adult men are becoming injured more often than women? The tendency is to think that women are the ‘fairer sex and are not as resilient when participating in athletic activities. There are a few simple social factors that keep women from experiencing quite as many ‘acute’ injuries as men.
For starters, women have been shown to be far more likely to back off from an activity before it reaches the point of a serious injury. Women are more likely to take an appropriate amount of time to rest. The relationship of “cause and effect” seems to be stronger with women when relating general pain to a more serious injury.
Men, contrarily, are far more likely to work through the pain in the name of even casual competition. They end up with an actual injury instead of just a strain or general pain.
In both sexes, high-stress areas such as the ankles, knees, and back are the most frequently injured. These areas top the charts because adults tend to suffer injuries caused more by repetitive stress than isolated, unpredictable incidents. In other words, the longer pain is ignored the worse the result is likely to be.
While the athletic activity continues, the injury could aggravate from a simple strain to a sprain, possibly a fracture, or another more serious repetitive stress injury.
Why are women at a greater risk for ACL injuries?
How to Prevent Athletic Injuries
How can adult athletes, both male, and female, prevent repetitive stress injuries? It’s of utmost importance to always stretch before and after any kind of physical activity. Take time to stretch out and warm up problem areas, especially joints like the ankles, knees, and back.
Try doing some light squats or push-ups before going straight into a running or weight lifting program.
Other great low-impact activities that strengthen ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the joints are yoga and Pilates. These are offered at many gyms and fitness centers. They help wake up the body before a more strenuous exercise program.
Always drink plenty of water. Remember to see a physician if the pain is ‘acute’ or ‘lingering.’ It’s always better to prevent an injury than to try and heal one later. Pay attention to your body and don’t become part of the above statistic yourself!