Women’s football.. How to minimise your risk of ACL and other injuries!

Women’s football.. How to minimise your risk of ACL and other injuries!

risk of ACLIn recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of women involved in Australian rules football especially since the introduction of the Australian Football League Women’s competition (AFLW).

Football is a great sport and it is great that more women are getting involved! Research though has shown that women are between 2.4 – 9.7 times more likely to sustain a tear or rupture of their ACL than males competing in the same sports. That is a huge statistic!

So why is this so?

One of the main differences between males and females is the shape of their hips. Females have wider hips than their male counterparts to allow for childbirth. This directly affects the angle made between the hip and the femur which makes the knee more susceptible to roll in. Rolling in of the knee when the foot is planted is the most common mechanism of injury for ACL tears. Research has also shown that women are more susceptible to ACL injuries between days 9 to 14 of their menstrual cycle most likely due to changes in hormone levels in the body.

But I want to play footy so what can I do to prevent this from happening!

Information from the AFL identified that there were 13 ACL injuries in the AFL for the 2017 season. This is a small number given the number of players and matches played over the season. So we must remember that the relative risk of an ACL injury is still very low! There are significant benefits of playing sports such as football including those to our physical and mental wellbeing which in my opinion outweigh the risk of injury! Yet, there are a number of steps that you can take to help minimise your risk of ACL and other significant injuries whilst partaking in football:

risk of ACLDynamic Warm Ups

Have a chat to your coach and make a dynamic warm up apart of your warm up protocol! Programs such as the FIFA11+ program have been shown to decrease injuries by 35% and more severe injuries by 48% . This is a huge statistic! Andrew Darcey, one of the senior physiotherapists at Leading Edge has previously discussed what is involved in this program. Find out more about the FIFA11+ program HERE.

Start with non-competitive drills

Football is a relatively new sport and many participants may be coming from individual, non-contact or even non-sporting backgrounds. If you are new to football it is important that you learn the new skills required in a controlled environment before playing games. Learn these skills in a non-competitive environment first and then progress to competitive drills before playing games.

Glute strength

Your glute muscles are very important at controlling rotation at the hip and consequently in preventing ACL injuries. By training your glutes you may also see an improvement in performance! See our blog on the 5 best exercises to fire your glutes!

Functional Screening​

Here at Leading Edge we believe that injury prevention is better than cure! Functional screening by a trained physiotherapist will identify areas of weakness that when corrected through specific exercises may reduce your overall injury risk.

If you would like any information on minimising your injury risk or have sustained an injury you don’t want to happen again you may benefit from an appointment with a Leading Edge Physiotherapist. You can BOOK ONLINE now, or call one of our clinics on (08) 8364 6800 or (08) 8159 1300 to book an appointment.

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