The FA is launching new studies to try and understand why so many female football players experience ACL injuries in the sport. The move comes after 12 players from the Women’s Super League and Championship suffered ACL injuries from the game.
Here, we’ll look at what studies are being carried out to address the worrying trend and what ACL injuries actually are.
The studies being conducted
Current research suggests that women are eight times more likely to develop ACL injuries as opposed to men. The FA want to discover why, carrying out an audit into the illnesses and injuries experienced in the top two tiers of women’s football. As an additional measure, they are also bringing in experts to provide clubs and players with strategies to prevent ACL injuries.
The studies are set to look at the demands placed on female players in the Championship and WSL. It is also going to look at other injury and illnesses female players face in the sport. These include irregular or no periods, alongside energy deficiencies and eating disorders.
Some experts believe that the increase in ACL injuries in women is down to hormonal variations during their menstrual cycle. The fatigue many women experience, can increase the risk of injury.
What are ACL injuries?
ACL injuries relate to a sprain or tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. This is one of the main ligaments located in the knee. These types of injuries are common in sports which require sudden changes in direction and stops.
When an ACL injury occurs, you can typically feel or hear a pop in the knee. This can cause swelling around the area, and it may be too painful to place weight onto the knee. The severity of the tear or sprain can vary, determining which type of treatment should be used.
Why women are prone to ACL injuries
The reasons why women are more prone to ACL injuries isn’t fully known. However, experts do have a few theories.
The anatomy of women is different to men, so this is thought to play a role. For example, the intercondylar notch located at the bottom of the femur, is smaller in women. This could potentially cause issues with how the ACL moves, particularly during twisting motions. Women are also known to have larger hips, potentially affecting the alignment of the knee.
Biomechanics is another potential reason for increased ACL injury risk. While women’s knees are more flexible than a man’s knees, it does leave them prone to hyperextension of the knee. This puts additional strain on the surrounding ligaments.
These are just a couple of differences which could make women more susceptible to ACL injuries. While they may not always be preventable, it is possible to build up the strength and flexibility in the knee. Women who are considering getting into sports should therefore consider programmes which focus on building up knee strength and stability.
If an ACL injury is suspected, early treatment is crucial. If you suspect an ACL injury, call 0203 195 2443 for an appointment with London knee specialist Mr Jonathan Webb at the Fortius Clinic.