Social Factors on Injury Risk for Female Athletes
The ACL injury rate disparity between male and female athletes highlights the need to consider multiple factors that may contribute to the increased injury risk. An example is the impact of social factors on injury risk (4). These factors include (but are not limited to):
- A lack of resources
- A lack of access to technical and strength & conditioning coaching
- Poor provision of equipment and facilities
- Low training access and exposure for female athletes
- Unsupportive societal attitude towards female participation in sport
Societal attitudes are ingrained and may need a policy shift in cases. For example, in schooling, it may be mandatory for females to wear skirts as opposed to trousers or shorts, which further inhibit the ability to undertake sports and general activity while at school. This change would require a policy shift at some schools for it to be supported
As such, coaches should consider the training history of their players (i.e. how long have they been playing their sport), in addition to ensuring that resources are available for players to have access to injury risk reduction strategies. Furthermore, administrators should promote and ensure equal resource accessibility for male and female players.
- Start an appropriate S&C based program early. The peak incidence of ACL injury in female athletes is between 15-19 years of age, compared with 20-24 years for males, making it imperative that injury risk reduction strategies are introduced early and regularly from 10-11 years of age.
- Strength, power, and change of direction training are all very important components for injury and ACL injury prevention for female players. It is important that these components of a program are included in training and players are monitored for technique and movement quality.
- Focus on technique from a young age. How a player moves, especially preventing the knee from buckling, is very important. Encouraging control of ankle – knee – hip alignment is a fundamental principle for injury prevention.
- Coaches and administrators should consider social factors that may influence the injury risk profile for their players. Ensuring that players have good access to resources, adequate exposure to a program, in addition to consideration of individual training history, may assist in further reducing injury risk for female players.
Fit Clinic offers youth athletes the ability for all the above, we work with our athletes one on one to ensure a reduced injury risk through S&C, as well as, a high level of education is provided. As forementioned, ideally, athletes should be learning strategies from the age of 10, this not only will reduce injury risk, but also improve on-field performance.
If you or your child would like to know more information on how Fit Clinic can assist in reducing injury risk & improving performance please call us on 1300 397 497.
Montalvo AM, Schneider DK, Yuk L, et al. “What’s my risk of sustaining an ACL injury while playing sports?” A systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 2019;53:1003-1012.
Crossley KM, Patterson BE, Cluvenor AG et al. Making football safer for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of injury prevention programmes in 11 773 female football (soccer) players. Br J Sports Med 2020;54:1089-1098.
Soligard T, Myklebust G, Steffen K et al. Comprehensive warm-up programme to prevent injuries in young female footballers: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2008;337:a2469.
Parsons JL, Coen SE, Bekker S. Anterior cruciate ligament injury: towards a gendered environmental approach. Br J Sports Med E Pub ahead of print: 22 Feb 2021. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103173.
Kryger KO, Wang A, Mehta R, et al. Research on women’s football: a scoping review. Science and Medicine in Football E Pub ahead of print: 8 Jan 2021. doi: 10.1080/24733939.2020.1868560.