Definition and Occurrence
- Due to biomechanical differences, women are more susceptible to sports related injuries than men. The main difference is a woman’s wider pelvis; this female characteristic has been linked to what’s known as a larger Q-angle (Quadriceps Angle).
- The Q-angle is the angle at which the femur (upper leg bone) meets the tibia (lower leg bone). This is measured by creating two intersecting lines; one of these lines is from the center of the patella (knee cap) to the anterior superior iliac spine of the pelvis (the part of the pelvis you can feel on the side of your lower abdomen). The other line initiates from the patellar tendon to the tibial tuberosity (on the tibia just below the knee).
- The Q-angle is best measured by standing, because it replicates the normal weight-bearing forces applied to the knee joint during routine activity. A normal range for the Q-angle while standing is between 18 and 22 degrees and women are usually at the higher end of this range due to having a wider pelvis.
- A Q-angle increase is significant because it places increased stress on the knee joint and it’s also been linked to increased foot pronation (rotational movement) in women.The fact that the q-angle is more pronounced in women than men leads to more stress on the knee joint and makes it less stable when put under stress. This is the reason why women who participate in sports involving, running, jumping and pivoting, are probably more likely to suffer an ACL tear.
- An abnormal Q-angle becomes even more complicated when it presents with a functional or anatomical short leg. Runners often suffer from short leg syndrome, but this “short leg” really isn’t “short.” It only appears that way because of a structural defect, such as an abnormal Q-angle.
Signs and Symptoms
Typically, an increased Q-angle may result in knee pain and a muscle imbalance due to the quadriceps pulling on the patella. Degeneration of the articular surface of the knee can also occur due to a wearing down effect of the cartilage on the underside of the patella. Finally, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries can also occur because of knee instability and stress.
To prevent Q-angle increases, strengthening exercises that increase knee stability, such as the ACL Injury Prevention Project training program, are recommended. Closed-chain exercises, such as wall squats (performed only to 30 degrees of flexion) are also recommended. Stretching exercises that include the quadriceps, hamstrings, iliotibial band (at the upper femur), and gastrocnemius (at the calf) are helpful. Plyometrics, proprioceptive balancing, hamstring activation, knee and hip flexion exercises are also recommended.
The first step is typically a correction of any degree of over-pronation at the foot this is accomplished by using custom-made orthotics or an insert. An emphasis on correct biomechanics is introduced in the form of a rehab program focusing upon the restoration of flexibility to the muscles of the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Strengthening of the VMO muscle (Vastus Medialis Oblique, one of the four quadriceps muscles) is recommended.
Published by: mvpboxing.com