Gehring, D., Mornieux, G., Fleischmann, J., & Gollhofer, A. (2009). Females run differently than males – Implications for running injuries? A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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This study determined gender differences in knee joint biomechanics in experienced runners (M = 15; F = 15). 3D-kinematics and kinetics of the knee joint were measured in experienced runners at a running speed of 4m/s. The activations of the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles were determined by the use of telemetric electromyography.

Females flexed their knees 5° less than males. While males exhibited a clear knee joint adduction during the complete stance phase with peak average values of 7°, females showed a neutral or even abducted knee joint alignment with a peak abduction of 3°. The difference was significant. Maximal knee joint adduction moments were comparable between genders. However, the females had a significantly higher knee joint adduction loading during the braking phase, which was mainly caused by the multiple higher medial ground reaction forces than in males. Compared to males, females’ quadriceps activations were pre-shifted (about 15 ms) and peaked in the braking phase.

Implication. In accordance with previous studies females demonstrated a significant greater knee joint abduction, which was combined with increased adduction moments in the initial braking phase. As frontal plane loading is associated with specific running injuries like the patella femoral pain syndrome, the results of this study may help to explain why females are more prone to this kind of injury. Furthermore, the pre-shifted quadriceps activation, related to the reduced knee flexion and therefore stiffer knee joint configuration in females, indicates that gender differences in knee joint control are even present in the sagittal plane.

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