Why are women more likely to suffer from ACLs (and why is it only talked about in football and not other sports like cricket? - ME+U

Why are women more likely to suffer from ACLs (and why is it only talked about in football and not other sports like cricket?

An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is a tear or sprain of the ACL, which is located in the knee. The ACL connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, and is really important. Usually, ACL injuries occur during sport and are one of the most common types of knee injury.

The first thing people might think of when they hear the term “ACL injury” is a female footballer, so is it really true that women are more likely to suffer from ACL injuries?

In short, yes. Women and girls have been found to be between three and six times more likely to suffer from an ACL injury (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/social-not-just-biological-factors-key-in-increased-knee-injuries-girls-women). A specific cause for this hasn’t been determined, but there are lots of contributing factors. Some of these factors can include female athletes being coached in the same way as male athletes, which can cause hyperextension, which leads to ACL injuries. Female athletes are, obviously, just as capable of achieving sporting greatness as male athletes, but there is evidence to suggest that using the “one size fits all” approach to coaching and training might be actually aggravating these injuries. Making sure that training, equipment, and coaching facilities are adapted to suit individual athletes, as well as regular physio monitoring, are essential in ensuring female athletes’ career longevity.

Why are ACL injuries only really discussed in women’s football?

Fundamentally, awareness of how prone female athletes are to picking up ACL injuries has been raised thanks to the exponential growth in interest in women’s football. In the UK, the successes of the WSL and the Lionesses has helped highlight issues faced by women in sport, and as a result, more women and girls have been inspired to take up football.

Whilst this is all positive in terms of participation and engagement and highlighting the importance of health within sport, “unfortunately, it has come hand in hand with a rise in significant knee injuries in girls and young women, at a rate that outstrips their male counterparts. It is not just footballers who are experiencing this phenomenon, as anyone who engages in a pivoting sport such as netball is at risk, however football injuries account for nearly half of all ACL reconstructions performed in the UK.” (The British Orthopaedic Association https://www.boa.ac.uk/resource/how-to-tackle-the-increased-rate-of-acl-injuries-in-women-s-football.html)

How can the risk of ACL injuries be reduced?

Despite there being over 20 years of research into ACL injuries, we are still struggling to reduce these statistics. Some ways in which we can reduce the risk of ACLs include:

  • Ensure that your shoes support your foot shape, heel, and instep
  • Train and strengthen your muscle groups evenly
  • Pay attention to your diet and nutrition for healthy bones and muscles
  • Practice good technique when training
  • Don’t over-exercise or work out when exhausted as this can weaken technique

How do ME+U address women's foot health?

By creating womens cricket shoes that are specifically designed with women's feet in mind, ME+U have built the first ever bespoke women's cricket shoe. They support the natural shape of women's feet and allocate for women typically having a higher foot arch than men. These shoes are comfortable and designed to last, as well as reduce injuries such as strains and ACLs. 

For improved foot health buy ME+U womens cricket shoes 

ME+U - the inclusive cricket shoe brand

ME+U not only design womens cricket shoe but they also design and sell Mens Cricket Shoes. In the Mens range: Mens All Rounder Cricket Shoes and Mens Cricket Bowling Shoes

About Charlotte Ashton ME+U's Guest Blogger:

Charlotte Ashton is a womens cricket writer who has set up Is That Middle? (link is https://isthatmiddle.wordpress.com/), a digital magazine dedicated to women's cricket in all of its forms. As a woman who has grown up playing cricket in lots of different environments, I wanted to share my passion, experiences, and knowledge of the women's game to elevate and highlight just some of the remarkable stories in cricket. To access is it middle go click here!