Women's Sport: FA working to reduce ACL injuries in women's football

After twelve players in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and Championship have injured their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) this season, Telegraph Sport reports that the FA has launched new studies to find out why these injuries are so common in the women’s game.

With research suggesting that women are up to eight times more likely to injure their ACL than men, the paper reported that the FA are looking to audit the injuries and illnesses in the top two tiers of the women’s game. 

According to Telegraph Sport, the FA are also enlisting experts to provided strategies for clubs and players focusing on the prevention of ACL injuries and how to rehabilitate if and when these injuries occur.

The studies will look at the demands placed on the women who play in the WSL and Championship and will extend beyond just ACLs to look into other issues players may face. These include relative energy deficiency in sport which has a range of symptoms including disordered eating and irregular or no periods.

Professor Mark De Ste Croix who is in the Female Athlete Scientific Advisory Group told the Telegraph: “Given there are different resources at different clubs, even in the WSL, there’s such a disparity between some of the clubs in terms of the resources that they have.

“Those clubs that are closely aligned to their male teams tend to have more resources. Lots of them don’t have ­full-time sports scientists who are daily monitoring GPS data so they can look at the loading on the players, not ­overdoing it or on the flip side, being under prepared or not ready.”

It is thought that hormonal variations during the menstrual cycle and fatigue can have an impact on sportswomen’s tendency to injure their ACL and De Ste Croix thinks that how the players move may have a role to play too.

He said: “We’re probably sure that fatigue plays a role in the likelihood of ACL injuries, but how we go about monitoring that is difficult.”

“One of the ways to reduce the risk of an ACL is relatively simple: getting the girls to land correctly or to cut and rotate well. We call it ‘general movement competency’ and this is influenced by growth and maturation in both boys and girls.

“However, changes that occur to both hip width and things such as increased circulating oestrogen form part of a complex puzzle that contributes to girls being classed as high-risk athletes.”

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