The short answer to the question is: The female hormone estrogen can make ligaments lax, and the formation of women's hips in relation to their knees can make them more vulnerable to knee injury.

"When your ligaments are more lax, you need to be extra careful about the way you move your knees," writes Laura Ross, an orthopedic surgeon at Virtua. "You also have to compensate for what doctors call the 'Q' angle. This represents the angle formed by an imaginary line drawn from the top of the upper leg/outer hip down to the knee."

Ross shares some important information about common knee issues in women, as well as prevention tips:

Chondromalacia patella is "overuse or injury to the cartilage directly under your kneecap," which you may notice as a cracking when you walk or bend. The solution is to strengthen your quadriceps.

Meniscal injuries often come with an "intense, deep-seated pain inside the knee" when you twist your knee sharply without moving or bending your foot. Some of these injuries heal themselves but other require medication, physical therapy or even surgery.

Runner’s knee (iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS) is the inflammation of the "tendon that attaches from the hip to the outer side of the knee," often after long-distance running or walking. ITBS can be prevented by wearing good shoes, stretching and warming up before workouts and stretching, but once you develop it, you'll probably need medication or physical therapy.

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In general, to avoid knee injury, you'll want to make sure you're following proper form if you use weight machines or free weights and ensure you're wearing supportive shoes and stretching properly.

"You can’t overestimate the value of a proper warm-up and stretch before a workout, run or sporting activity," Ross writes. "You need to warm up the muscles with light activities like jogging, jump rope or jumping jacks and then perform either active stretches (stretches combined with movement like a lunge with a trunk twist) or static stretches (standing still doing a hamstring or quadriceps stretch)."

If knee pain is keeping you from your favorite activities, call 888-847-8823 to schedule an appointment with a Virtua orthopedic surgeon.

And remember, this spring as your family might become more active or spend more time outside, Virtua Urgent Care has eight convenient locations and is great for handling:

  • Cold/flu
  • Stomach virus
  • Sore throat or strep
  • Pink eye or earache
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Minor burns and bug bites
  • Minor injuries like sprains, strains and fractures

X-rays are available on-site, and you can walk-in or reserve a spot. Click here to learn more.