More than 50 teams started out, but just a few remain…FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer heats up this week as the finals approach—go Team USA!
We’re sure to see some amazing shots from these talented ladies – passes through opponents that ‘thread the needle’ and game-winning goals – but what we don’t want to see are serious injuries.
Soccer injuries are very common, and unfortunately, we see them quite a bit at Texas Orthopedics.
What are the most common soccer injuries affecting women?
Ligament strains, sprains, fractures, tendonitis, ACL tears, and concussions are the most common injuries in female players. These lower extremity injuries result from kicking and quick cutting and weaving movements on the feet.
ACL tears are frequently cited as the most common injury suffered by female soccer players with research showing that they are four to eight times more likely to tear this ligament over men.
What is an ACL tear?
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a central component of the knee joint connecting the upper thighbone to the lower leg. Rapid movements, a sharp collision with someone or something, or a stiff landing after a jump can cause the ligament to painfully snap or tear. The tear is often described as a popping sensation or buckling in the knee relinquishing any stability in the joint.
According to board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Danney, it’s true that women are more susceptible to ACL tears than men. “There are anatomic and biomechanical differences that make females more prone to ACL tears than their male counterparts,” says Dr. Danney.
Specifics on women’s susceptibility to ACL tears include:
- Bones tend to be more fragile due to female hormones
- Tendency to jump/land with straighter knees than men places more stress on the joint
- Alignment of female knees show they buckle slightly more inward than the male knee joint–again causing more stress with any movement
How can you protect yourself from soccer injuries?
Dr. Danney says that proper stretching and warming up before a game along with neuromuscular training can reduce the risk of ACL tears of up to eight times.
Concentrate on exercises to condition and strengthen the foot, ankle, and knee in preparation for these quick movements required on the field.
Knowing how to land if you trip or fall is also important—don’t lock your joints or keep them straight and stiff.
Additionally, always be aware of the players surrounding you…the closer you are to others, the greater the risk is for a serious collision.
The good news is that Dr. Danney says with proper rest and healing, the rate of re-injuring the ACL is a slim 10 to 20 percent.
(Adapted from US Youth Soccer)