Did you know that female AFL players are 9.2 times more likely to rupture their ACL’s than male AFL players?
Thats pretty serious. So, thats for every 1 ACL injury to a male AFL player there is 9 girls or women being injured.
There are many factors that are in play here, as to why.
1. Hormonal factors: When some women/girls are in certain parts of their menstrual cycle, its been shown that the ACL is at more risk of damage.
2. Biomechanical factors – your hip to knee ratio or angle is the angle that is made from where your femur (thigh bone) and where your knee is. Girls generally have a higher risk of internal rotation at the knee joint, which is one of the most common mechanisms of “non-contact” ACL injuries. This is where there is no physical contact by anyone else.
3. The acceleration of girls to contact sports has been postulated as a reason. WHY? Because you could argue that if a girl has only just begun a contact sport career, say at 14 years of age and is playing professional football at age 18, thats only 5 years of play prior to entering the big league. Its the time spent building your base, skills, fitness especially that has not been done.
This off-season PLEASE if you play AFL and you are a girl or woman, INVEST time in a program that protects your knees and your body. Getting stronger and working on specific exercises that are known to reduce the risk of knee injuries is something that is essential for you. An ACL injury sustained in a non-elite environment is both costly and can be very lonely. You cannot run for a long time, and playing football again can seem almost impossible if you do not have the support around you to know how to get back on the paddock.
Rachel Warcon, Exercise Scientist at Vector Health is running a program especially for girls and women who play contact sport starting in October 2019.
There are clinics for school-aged children and teenagers in the Setpember School holidays, where you can learn what and how to do exercises to help prevent knee injuries and improve your physical capacity on the field.
For more information please go to: