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The new reason to strengthen your knees

kneesBy Bari Lieberman for

If you’ve ever tripped over a few steps, or barely saved yourself from doing a face-plant on the sidewalk, you know the importance of being quick (and staying steady) on your feet. Strong, healthy knees are vital to capable legs—but new research warns that the way women are going about knee strengthening could be upping their risk of injury.

An estimated one in four women experience knee pain on a daily basis, and women are also more prone to knee injuries than men, earlier research has shown. Given that data, researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain this increased risk. After analyzing the jumps of several athletes, they determined that the leaping positions of female athletes increased their odds of injuries, particularly tears of the ACL, one of four major knee ligaments.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

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