With the AFLW commencing its second season in 2018 it is prevalent that the number of girls getting involved in football is on the rise. With this comes the awareness that with high contact and agile sports there is a much higher risk of injury. Studies have shown women are around five times more likely to tear their ACL than men playing the same sports – which became very real when two of AFLW’s biggest names went down with knee injuries last weekend.
Former St Kilda club doctor Rohan White explained the theories surrounding the proliferation of knee injuries.
“There are biomechanical issues in that women, they’re built differently to men, they’ve got wider pelvises, the actual ligament itself can be smaller in women. The little notch it sits in is often narrower, so there is potentially a more shearing effect when the knee is put under stress.”
“There’s other biomechanical issues, such as the strength of the quadriceps and the hamstrings, which often male footballers have spent a lifetime developing and so forth. They often have the support around the knee, which potentially women who are more recent to the game don’t have.”
FIFA 11+ is an ACL injury prevention program is a series of simple warm up exercises designed reduce players rate of ACL injury.
Many sports which require frequent pivoting activity, such as netball, basketball and football should implement this warm up routine before training and games. The series of exercises will improve strength in the lower limbs and core, provide greater neuromuscular control and awareness throughout a range of motions.
The exercises take around 20 minutes to perform, and involve
•Plyometrics (explosive exercises)
Ideally, it should be completed at least twice per week (once at training, once prior to a match).
Many studies have confirmed the effectiveness of the FIFA 11+ program, showing a significant reduction in knee injury rates of around 50% in females.
For individuals that have undergone an ACL reconstruction it is often advised that they adopt these exercises after around 6 months post surgery, in order to prevent a new injury to the ACL graft.
La Trobe University is conducting a pilot ACL injury prevention program implemented by Melbourne-based AFLW teams in hope to reduce the incidence of these injuries. Until this study is completed we recommend using FIFA 11+ as a guideline for warm-ups and injury prevention.
The manual can be dowloaded here.