In football, ACL injuries aren’t uncommon. However, the level of ACL injuries occurring in female athletes is a cause for concern. In the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, dozens of its star players have been benched due to an ACL injury.
An ACL injury doesn’t just cause immediate pain, it requires surgery and a long road to recovery. So, why are female athletes more susceptible to these types of injuries, and how can the problem be addressed?
Why Are Female Athletes More Susceptible to ACL Injuries?
Past studies have looked at physical and hormonal differences to explain why women athletes suffer more ACL tears than men. However, there are other factors that could be ramping up the rate of these types of injuries.
The world of sports, clouded by gender stereotypes, often doesn’t give female athletes the same resources or respect, illustrated by 2021’s college-level basketball tournament in the US. Controversy ensued when it was revealed male athletes got a full gym to work out in, while their female counterparts made do with yoga mats and a single dumbbell rack.
As women’s football grows, players face tougher physical challenges, but their training and support often falls short. Crammed seasons, limited strength training, and sometimes less access to expert coaches and medical teams, only make the ACL issue worse.
What is an ACL Injury?
The ACL is like a strong rope in the knee, helping to keep the joint moving as it should. Sudden twists or sharp turns in sports, like dodging an opponent, can put the ACL at risk of injury. If it tears, you may feel a noticeable ‘pop’ and swelling won’t be too far behind.
For athletes undergoing treatment for an ACL tear, it might mean therapy, workouts, or even surgery. In the best-case scenario, they’re looking at almost a year to bounce back. However, 30% of female athletes who suffer an ACL injury don’t return to the same level of play.
Of those who do make a return, 15% might face another tear. Another issue is that an ACL tear can increase the risk of developing painful joint problems like early arthritis.
How Can Women Athletes Prevent an ACL Injury?
There’s no denying the rate of ACL injuries in women’s football needs more attention. From ensuring equal pay and resources to providing training opportunities for female coaches and medical staff – more investment and resources need to be pumped into women’s football to address the current challenges.
There also needs to be more research carried out on women’s health, especially in sports.
Got hit with an ACL injury? Don’t wait to start treatment. Book an appointment with Mr Jonathan Webb today. He’ll create a comprehensive treatment plan to help get you back to the sport you love.