I read an interesting article this week on the BBC Sport website that highlighted the high levels of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women’s football. This season alone, there have been 9 ACL injuries – all resulting in a long period out injured. For Rachel Unitt, a Notts County and England player, this is her second ACL injury in 16 months and could spell the end of her career. This is obviously a huge issue and needs to be addressed.
FIFA has recently completed a research study that showed female footballers are between 2 – 6 times more likely to sustain an ACL injury.
They suggested there may be a physiological reason for this, such as:
- Wider hips
- Increased Q angle (measured by the line between the front of the pelvis and the knee cap)
- Under developed muscles – mainly hamstrings and gluteus medius
The study also suggested around 70% of all ACL injuries are non
-contact, meaning they are preventable and can be avoided.
FIFA have suggested following a specific exercise regime to help strengthen and support the knee. This is supported by Physiotherapists and Sport Scientists who work alongside the teams to help prevent injury.
The exercises include lunges, squats, running drills plus core exercises – bridging and clams to help build hamstring and gluteal strength, similar to the exercises we do in our Pilates classes.
FIFA are hoping an increased awareness and dedicated prevention will reduce the amount of injuries for female footballers – we’ll have to wait and see what happens over the coming seasons!