Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences

Date:
April 17, 2012
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
Women are more prone to knee injuries than men, and the findings of a new study suggest one cause may be that males and females differ in the way they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force. Men control nerve impulses similar to individuals trained for explosive muscle usage -- like those of a sprinter -- while the nerve impulses of women are more similar to those of an endurance-trained athlete, like a distance runner.

Women are more prone to knee injuries than men, and the findings of a new study suggest this may involve more than just differences in muscular and skeletal structure -- it shows that males and females also differ in the way they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force.

Scientists at Oregon State University found that men control nerve impulses similar to individuals trained for explosive muscle usage -- like those of a sprinter -- while the nerve impulses of women are more similar to those of an endurance-trained athlete, like a distance runner.

In particular, the research may help to explain why women tend to suffer ruptures more often than men in the anterior cruciate ligament of their knees during non-contact activities. These ACL injuries are fairly common, can be debilitating, and even when repaired can lead to osteoarthritis later in life.

More study of these differences in nervous system processing may lead to improved types of training that individuals could use to help address this issue, scientists said.

"It's clear that women move differently than men, but it's not as obvious why that is," said Sam Johnson, a clinical assistant professor in the OSU School of Biological and Population Health Sciences.

"There are some muscular and skeletal differences between men and women, but that doesn't explain differences in injury rates as much as you might think," Johnson said. "No one has really studied the role of the nervous system the way we have in explaining these differences, specifically the way sensory information is processed and integrated with motor function in the spinal cord."

In this study, just published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the scientists found that most aspects of spinal motor control and rapid activation of muscles were similar in 17 men and 17 women that were examined -- with one exception. Men had a higher level of "recurrent inhibition," which is a process in the spinal cord that helps select the appropriate muscle response.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Samuel T. Johnson, Kristof Kipp, Mark A. Hoffman. Spinal motor control differences between the sexes. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00421-012-2363-3

Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417125629.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2012, April 17). Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417125629.htm
Oregon State University. "Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417125629.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins