Female Athlete

Whether she’s a runner, gymnast or soccer player, a female athlete has special needs when it comes to the assessment, treatment, training and return-to-sport recommendations.

Knee Pain

Research indicates females are at increased risk of ACL injuries due to their landing mechanics, when compared to men. Whether patellofemoral or ligament involvement, Midwest Physical Therapy both applies and advances clinical research in treatment. Specific and individualized training programs address muscle imbalances around the knee, and should challenge proprioception and eccentric (lengthening) muscle contractions around the joint.

Back Pain

Low back pain is another area of special concern to the female athlete. One of the key core muscles is the pelvic floor. Often, this is strained in athletes, and thus weak. If it is not stabilizing the pelvis and spine, the athlete is then susceptible to low back injury, which can lead to time out of competition. Incontinence, or bladder leakage with activity, due to weakness in the pelvic floor muscle, is often an indicator of increased risk of low back injury, and thus time out of competition. EMG assisted programs of muscle retraining are beneficial for pelvic floor weakness. More information regarding Physical Therapy for this condition may be found at our Incontinence page.

Foot Pain

 Special assessments and treatments are available to alleviate these concerns and restore the athlete with speed and agility in a pain-free environment. Midwest Physical Therapy is certified to cast for custom orthotics if needed, and provides guidance for proper footwear for the activity desired.

Female Athlete Triad

 This serious health problem involves disordered eating, low bone mass, and amenorrhea (cessation of the menstrual cycle) in female athletes. The condition is most common in sports that emphasize leanness, such as cross country running, gymnastics and figure skating. In the past 25 years, much has been learned about symptoms, risk factors, causes, and treatment strategies for Female Athlete Triad.

The main cause of the triad is energy deficiency in female athletes. This is not just through undereating, but occurs when women do not take in more calories than they burn, which can happen through overtraining.

The most common symptoms of the triad are chronic fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, frequent fractures, cold hands and feet, problems sleeping and restricting food intake. There are many physical problems caused by the triad that require the assistance of licensed physical therapists for prevention, assessment, and intervention.

Individuals suffering from the triad will need a new fitness plan to ensure that they do not burn more calories than they need for their training. Physical therapy can also assist athletes with the triad in sleeping better and recovering from fractures. Osteoporosis is often seen in these athletes (an alarming 23.5% prior to age 25!) following 4 years of amenorrhea, and prevention of this is the driving force behind physical therapy programs addressing bone loading.

Pregnant Athlete

 Athletes who are pregnant require a special level of guidance to maximize their fitness level throughout the pregnancy, without risking injury to their joints, or to their developing fetus.

Board Certified Specialists in Women’s Health have the research backgrounds, and connections to colleagues across the country to provide state of the art, research based treatments and recommendations for patients who are female athletes. Cheryl Wisinski, PT, DPT, WCS is Board Certified in this area and provides individualized recommendations for her female athlete patients.


Click here for references

Hewett TE, Myer GD, Ford KR. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female athletes: Part 1, Mechanisms and risk factors. Am J Sports Med. 2006;34(2):299¬311.

Christo K, Prabhakaran R, Lamparello B, et al. Bone metabolism in adolescent athletes with amenorrhea, athletes with eumenorrhea, and control subjects. Pediatrics. 2008;121:1127¬36