Why Female Footballers Are More Prone To Injuries Than Males
Female footballers are more prone to injuries than males, with studies showing that they are up to eight times more likely to suffer a serious knee injury. The most common injuries suffered by female footballers are ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, ankle sprains, and hamstring strains.
While there is no way to eliminate the risk of injury in female footballers, there are several things that can be done to reduce the risk. These include using proper warm-up and cooling-down routines, avoiding high-risk manoeuvres, and wearing supportive footwear.
What type of injuries occur?
Football is a collision sport and as such, players, both male and female are susceptible to a variety of contact injuries. The most common contact injuries are concussions, contusions, and strains/sprains.
Concussions are caused by a blow to the head or body that results in the brain being jarred. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and memory problems. It is important to note that concussions can occur even if the player does not lose consciousness.
Contusions, or bruises, occur when blood vessels are damaged or broken. This can happen when a player is hit with a hard object, such as a ball or another player. Contusions can be painful and may cause swelling and bruising.
Strains and sprains are common injuries in football players. A strain occurs when a muscle is stretched too fair (pulled muscle) and a sprain is a torn or twisted ligament.
Most injuries that are avoidable through the proper procedure are non-contact injuries. The most common ones that occur are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures, hamstring strains and Achilles tendon ruptures. These happen with both male and female football players but are more common in females due to different factors which affect them.
The reasons for the increased injury risk in women are due to several factors, including differences in anatomy, hormones, and warm-up routines. For example, female footballers have a wider Q-angle which makes them more susceptible to knee injuries.
How to predict an ACL injury?
One of the easiest ways to prevent ACL ruptures in football is to introduce specific warm-up protocols for prevention and muscle activation. Research suggests the most common time for ACL injury to occur is the first or last five minutes of a football match. This suggests that warm-up performed does not adequately ‘warm-up’ the muscles and prepare them for game.
Earlier the phrase Q-angle was mentioned. The Q-angle is a representation of a line made from the quadriceps to the mid-point of the kneecap. It is measured when the person is stood due to normal weight bearing forces going through the knee joint. The normal measurement for women should be less than 22 degrees with the knee in extension and for men should be less than 18 degrees with knee in extension. With these measurements alone women are at a higher risk for ACL injury due to the higher degree of angle stretching the ligaments.
This leads into women having a higher chance of suffering from joint laxity issues. Due to the ligament already being pulled, and generally having a higher flexibility rate it leads to hypermobility and standing in what their natural position is over extension, pulling and stretching the ligaments more so.
All these factors do not directly cause the ACL to tear, however a sudden sprinting or change of direction can put that last bit of stress through the ligaments which are already very weak, causing that final tear to occur.
Female athletes have made great strides in the world of football, but there is still room for improvement. One way to help female athletes is to invest in non-contact training programs to help prevent ACL injuries.
You can also follow MSKdoctors blogs that provide information for female football players. Lastly, contacting a coach or other professional for guidance can help you get started in the right direction.