Knee Injuries in Females (Q Angle)

The Q Angle

 

What is the Q angle and why are we supposed to know it? The Q angle is the measurement of the angle between the quad muscle and the patella tendon. This gives information on the alignment of your knee joint. It also gives information on how the quad muscles will function in line with the knee and how the patella (knee cap) will move with the knee joint.

 

Before you fall asleep on me, you must understand the importance of the Q angle and especially how it pertains to women. On average, men have a Q angle of 14 degrees while women have a Q angle of 17 degrees. Women have a naturally wider pelvis compared to men, which is why their Q angle is higher. Unfortunately, the higher the Q angle, the worse it is for the knee.  The reasons include:

 

1) A large Q angle will pull the kneecap laterally and affect your knee’s ability to move up and down appropriately. This will cause maltracking of the kneecap (Which is when the kneecap gets pulled out of balance) and end up wearing down the cartilage behind the knee. A lateral pull on your kneecap can also lead to muscle imbalances, and people with higher Q angles tend to have weaker Vastus medialis Oblique (VMO) muscles.

 

2) Higher Q angles can also alter movement patterns, which will prevent people from moving efficiently. This leads to people having over pronated feet, which will lead to faulty movement patterns. Faulty movement patterns can make the athlete slower and also increase their risk of injury.

                                                             OVER PRONATED FEET

                                                             OVER PRONATED FEET

 

3) Lastly, the greater the Q angle, the greater the chance the person will tear their ACL. Since the kneecap is pulled outwards, the inner knee is overstretched, which leads to instability. This instability increases the risk of ACL tears.

 

The Q angle, a measure of our own anatomy, is a huge reason why we should strength train! This is especially important for women, who naturally have greater Q angles! Strength training can help improve the muscle imbalances and biomechanical problems the Q angle presents. Strengthening the VMO and Gluteus medius muscles are essential to preventing future injuries. With an understanding of the Q angle and its impact on our movement and athleticism, we should encourage men and especially all women to strength train to maximize performance and minimize injury.