Women in Football: Why do women have higher incidents of injury compared to men.
With the AFL men’s finals now upon us it won’t be long ‘til the footy mad are thinking about the next footy season, AFLW 2018. The inaugural AFLW season was a raging success, and it’s clear it’s here to stay, with expansion on the horizon. We have had an influx of girls and women who are playing footy in the clinic, which means we need to think about what injuries are more common in women’s sport and how do we prevent them.
ACL injury rates have been shown to be 2-10 times higher in women than men when completing the same activity. Why exactly this is has been debated widely, but it’s believed to be a combination of slightly different structural shape in women’s knees and different biomechanics, along with some hormonal influences. Studies have shown that women tend to jump and land with their knees straighter than men, causing higher joint forces on the knee.
This shows that an ACL prevention program that focusses on improving jumping and landing should be effective for women, especially those that play a sport like AFL. There are several programs, such as the FIFA 11+, which is designed so that it can be completed by a team as a warm up before training and games. The program been shown to reduce overall injury rates by up to 35% in the amateur sporting environment.
With women’s footy, cricket and soccer rapidly growing, there’s a changing dynamic in injury prevention and this will bring its own set of challenges and rewards for the sports physiotherapy profession.
Written by Nick Rees – Physiotherapist