Experts warn that a career-destroying “tsunami” of knee injuries is plaguing the women’s game.
The number of incidents involving damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is also “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to doctors.
ACL injuries typically take six to nine months to fully recover after reconstruction. But in some cases, players face a year-long wait before they can return to their sport.
Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir became the latest player to suffer the injury last week, prompting renewed calls from players, fans and coaches for more research into why this type of injury is more common in female footballers than in men. the men.
Meanwhile, top-flight footballers have admitted to being “scared” and “worried” about the risk of serious injuries.
Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir last week became the latest player to suffer the injury, prompting fresh calls from players, fans and coaches for more research into why this type of injury is more common in female footballers than in men. the men.
It comes just days after Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir became the latest player to suffer the injury, rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament playing for her country against Belgium on Tuesday. Pictured is Caroline Weir injured during the match at Hampden Park on September 26.
Weir became the latest player to suffer the injury, tearing her ACL while playing for her country against Belgium on Tuesday.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast, surgeon Nev Davies, an expert in treating knee problems, said there has been a “tsunami” of cases in women’s football at grassroots level.
He said: “The data we are receiving, not just from the UK but from around the world, talks about an endemic of ACL injuries and obviously we hear about elite football and the Lionesses because that is in the media.”
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing this tsunami of ACL injuries.”
ACL injuries occur when there is a partial or complete tear, stretched ligament, or detachment of the ligament that connects the femur to the tibia.
But data from campaign group ACL Women Football Club suggests that up to 195 elite players have suffered the same fate in the last 12 months.
Earlier this year, Lioness captain and Arsenal defender Leah Williamson joined teammate Lioness and Arsenal forward Beth Mead in missing the World Cup after both damaged their ACLs.
Studies focusing on football have shown that women are six times more likely to suffer ACL injuries compared to men, and 25 percent less likely to return after recovery.
The British Orthopedic Association has described the number of injuries reported in top-flight women’s football as “just the tip of the iceberg”.
It says there has been a “rapid” increase in the number of younger amateur athletes suffering ACL injuries, with the largest increase seen in teenage girls.
Critics have blamed sportswear manufacturers for increasing the risk of injury.
Earlier this year, Lioness captain and Arsenal defender Leah Williamson also joined teammate Lioness and Arsenal forward Beth Mead in missing the World Cup after both damaged their cruciate ligaments. Pictured is Leah Williamson after suffering an ACL injury in April.
The British Orthopedic Association has also described the number of injuries in women’s top-flight football as “just the tip of the iceberg”. It says it has seen a “rapid” increase in the number of younger amateur athletes suffering ACL injuries, with the largest increase seen in teenage girls. Pictured, Leah Williamson in April 2023
Studies focusing on football have shown that women are six times more likely to suffer ACL injuries compared to men, and 25 percent less likely to return after recovery. Pictured, Beth Mead returned to training in September after missing the World Cup due to an ACL injury.
Many football boots do not take into account the fact that women’s feet are shaped differently to men’s, meaning that female players may wear shoes that do not fit properly and may increase the risk of injury.
Women also run in a different way than men, but the tacks are designed around the male movement.
Limited research suggests that some hormones can loosen ligaments, increasing the risk of tearing.
A 2019 study found Joint stability can be affected when estrogen increases in the menstrual cycle, which usually occurs in the second week.
writing in the diary Frontiers in physiologyAmerican researchers said that the use of oral contraceptives can compensate for hormonal changes and decrease the risk of ACL rupture.
However, other research has suggested that there is no change in knee displacement in relation to a woman’s cycle.
Physiotherapist Tom Bradley, owner of Warrior Sports Rehab and Come Back Club in London, told the daily express: ‘The ACL controls the rotation between the shin and the thigh. Women have relatively wider hips than men and their knees tend to be on the inside of the hips, so there is already an element of rotation.
“Therefore, there is a greater propensity for that ligament to be stressed due to the anatomical shape of a woman’s leg.”
Other factors contributing to frequent ACL injuries at the elite level could also be due to scheduling and fatigue, he suggested.
‘“If a player is fatigued he may not have the same muscle strength to support himself and that could be the reason why he goes,” he added.
Many players in women’s soccer’s top flight have bounced from the Euros to the domestic season to the World Cup, and critics say FIFA and UEFA must intervene to allow enough recovery time.
Last year, England coach Sarina Wiegman also said that FIFA, UEFA and federations around the world “have to do something” to address the growing number of ACL injuries.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast, Birmingham City defender Siobhan Wilson also said it was “no coincidence” there were so many in such a short time.
He added: “People are finally realizing this is serious.”
“When you suffer an injury that prevents you from doing the only thing you know, you feel like you lose a little bit of your identity.”
WHAT IS AN ANTERIOR CRUCIATED LIGAMENT INJURY?
An ACL injury is a tear or sprain to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The injury usually occurs during sports that involve sudden stops, changes of direction, and jumping and landing, such as football or basketball.
ACL tears are common among young athletes, with 200,000 injuries occurring each year in the U.S., according to the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine.
The prevalence of the injury in the UK is unknown.
Many people hear a “pop” coming from the knee when the injury occurs.
Other symptoms may include:
- Severe pain and inability to move the joint.
- rapid swelling
- Feeling of instability or “giving way” when supporting weight.
ACL injuries are more common in women due to differences in anatomy, muscle strength, and hormonal fluctuations.
Shoes that do not fit well; equipment in poor condition, such as skis; and playing on artificial grass also increases the risk.
ACL injuries increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee, even if they have surgery to reconstruct the ligament.
Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may involve rest and rehabilitative exercises.
- Rits T
- Yoce: every two hours for 20 minutes while the patient is awake
- copression: a wrap or band around the knee
- myelevation: lie down with your knee resting on pillows
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to replace the torn ligament with a segment of tendon.
Fountain: Mayo Clinic