Women make up almost half of collegiate athletes across all division levels and NCAA division 1 power 5 conference athletes. As more and more females participate in competitive sports, it is important to know that athletic injuries can occur, and there are differences between female and male athletes.
These differences make it necessary for sports medicine specialists to offer patient-specific medical care and guidance to female athletes.
Understanding Gender Differences in Sports Medicine
The first step in addressing gender-specific considerations is to understand the key differences between female and male athletes.
Some primary differences include:
- Body composition
- Muscle kinetics
- Injury risks
Understanding these differences in a comprehensive way is key to offering better healthcare services to female athletes.
Recent research has highlighted that female athletes face an increased risk of various conditions, such as:
- ACL tears
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Bone stress injuries
- Sport-related concussions
- Sexual violence in sports
A one size-fits-all approach is hardly effective. Female athletes need a targeted approach with gender-specific considerations.
Sports Medicine Services for Women
The approach of sports medicine doctors to female athletes has evolved over time to address their unique needs. Some key differences in the approach include:
1. Understanding Female-Specific Issues
Sports medicine doctors have an understanding of the specific challenges that female athletes may face in areas of bone and muscle strength and reproductive health and hormones. Doctors can address these concerns and provide appropriate care, even if it means collaborating with other healthcare providers.
2. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation
Sports medicine doctors can provide injury prevention strategies tailored to female athletes. This includes addressing biomechanical differences and implementing training techniques to reduce the risk of certain injuries. Strength and conditioning programs, which may be underutilized by female athletes, should be a priority.
For example, while males develop greater shoulder width and muscle mass, females develop greater hip width and fat mass. This can increase their risk for knee injuries. A sports medicine doctor should create a program that focuses on better neuromuscular training in female athletes.
Moreover, in terms of bone health, female athletes are more susceptible to bone injuries or fractures in the lower extremities or pelvis. This is due to factors that range from exercise volume and intensity to muscle strength and menstrual dysfunction. Resistance training has been shown to strengthen bones and help improve bone mineral density.
3. Hormonal Considerations
Female athletes may require specialized care related to hormonal health, and hormonal issues can affect sports performance. For female-specific conditions such as premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea, the sports medicine doctor may collaborate with endocrinologists or gynecologists for greater support for the female athlete’s hormonal health.
4. Nutrition and Performance Optimization
Sports medicine doctors also work closely with female athletes to optimize their nutrition. Female athletes have different nutritional requirements – such as more iron and calcium – to help maintain optimal performance. The doctor may refer to a registered dietitian for optimal meal planning for the athlete.
5. Psychological Well-Being
Recognizing the importance of mental health, sports medicine doctors also address psychological well-being and provide support to female athletes. They may collaborate with psychologists or mental health professionals to ensure holistic care is provided to the athlete.
Sports Medicine Physician for Women in San Antonio, Boerne, Floresville, Hondo, Kenedy, and Live Oak, TX
For a targeted approach to your needs as a female athlete, choose the sports medicine podiatrists at The Podiatry Group of South Texas. We are highly experienced in the care of professional, amateur, and weekend warrior female athletes.
We not only help you prevent injuries during sport and exercise but are also qualified to help improve your athletic performance. Our sports medicine physicians are passionate about helping you achieve your goals in your sport.