April 18, 2009

Female Ovulation Cycle Linked To Knee Joint Laxity

Female athletes are more prone to suffer knee injuries than men, and researchers at the University of Calgary may have discovered why.

It appears that females' monthly hormone cycle may affect knee joint laxity, causing them to be at an increased risk of sustaining injuries than men.

Researchers followed 26 women during the course of their monthly cycle to determine its effect on knee joint laxity. Participants were asked to perform several athletic movements like quick cuts, or sharp jumps.

"We found on average, the average person is going to be more lax during ovulation, but it's not true for everybody," said Faculty of Kinesiology professor Darren Stefanyshyn, who helped author the study.

In a series of reports in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and The American Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers from the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary found that 14 of 26 participants had the greatest amount of knee laxity during ovulation, while 10 others had the greatest laxity during the follicular phase and 2 subjects during the luteal phase.

"What this shows us is that the connection between the hormonal cycle and knee laxity is not a cookie-cutter relationship," said Stefanyshyn.

"Individuals have significant differences and I think that finding out why these differences occur could go a long way to helping athletes
understand if they are more at risk and perhaps in designing interventions to help prevent injury."

Stefanyshyn said that women are two to eight times more likely to injure their ACL knee ligaments than men.

"The average woman has to be careful around ovulation," he said.

"But if women are tuned into their bodies, they may realize that they feel different at different parts of the cycle. It might not be ovulation when they feel a little more flexible, a little more lax. Whenever they feel that, that's when they should be very careful."

Additionally, researchers noted that young athletes who have knee injuries are more likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis later in life.


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