Study Shows Adolescent Females Have Less Core Stability than their Male Counterparts

According to research conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in Chesterfield, Missouri, healthy adolescent females have less core stability than their male counterparts -- especially in the coronal plane -- possibly contributing to gender-based differences in non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injury rates. The results of the study were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

Mark Halstead, MD, FAAP, used a proprietary balance system to test the hypothesis that dynamic stability in a healthy adolescent population differs by gender. Seventy-four male and 40 female healthy adolescents of ages 13 to 20 completed a dynamic stability test on the balance system. The standard test lasts up to two minutes, during which the subject attempts to stabilize his or her torso and upper body in response to random movements of the platform on which they are standing. The time that the subject was able to last on the device, as well as the dynamic motion analysis score, which measures total motion in five planes, was calculated for each subject.  Each subject completed three trials on the balance system; the top score for each individual was used for analysis.

According to Dr. Halstead, overall, males lasted longer than females (106 +/-14 seconds) than females (99 +/-15 seconds, P=0.03) and had a lower (better) score (443 +/-128 vs 498 seconds, +/-135, P=0.049).  Significant gender differences were seen in coronal plane translational (272 +/-111 vs 339 +/-130, P=0.01) and rotational stability (354 +/-95 vs 444 +/-171, P=0.005).  There were no significant gender differences in the other planes of motion.

Dr. Halstead concluded that “further research is warranted to investigate the factors which contribute to these differences and whether targeted interventions can modify this discrepancy and potentially mitigate injury risk.”