4 Safety Reminders for Female Soccer Players
Dec 21, 2022
Women face a higher risk of specific injuries due to anatomical differences. Unfortunately, women’s leagues, from the amateur to elite levels, have done a generally poor job of educating women who play the game about these risks. However, there are some vital reminders for women to heed when playing the beautiful game, reminders that will save them pain and lost time. This post will examine them.
1. Focus on leg strengthening
Strong, powerful, and conditioned legs are prerequisites for both men and women soccer players. But girls and women need to focus more on leg strengthening. Women’s leg anatomy differs from men's in some ways, the most significant difference being the structure of the hips and thighs.
The Q-angle is a measurement of the angle formed between the quads and the knee joints. Women have wider Q-angles since they tend to have wider hips than men. Wider Q-angles puts more strain on the knees, which can result in leg injuries.
How women soccer players can strengthen their legs
- FIFA 11+ neuromuscular exercises: FIFA has recommended a series of exercises that make the nervous system more efficient at recruiting muscle fibers, reducing injury risk. The FIFA 11+ can help condition leg muscles to withstand more force and sudden cutting movements.
- Nordic hamstring curls: A study found doing Nordic hamstring curls could reduce the risk of hamstring injuries by 51%. So consider adding some of these to your weekly training routine.
- Lunges: Balance is an essential factor for avoiding leg injuries. Fortunately, lunges help increase balance and core strength, as well as your abductor and adductor muscles, which, when properly conditioned, stabilize your leg muscles.
Don’t forget to add other workouts, such as traditional weighted squats and deadlifts. They build a ton of strength and mass that can keep injuries at bay. And some other exercises, such as jogs and sprints, help condition your legs to withstand those runs and cuts in games.
2. Incorporate neck exercises into a training routine
Here’s another way men and women differ — their necks. Men typically have greater neck strength and mass than women, making them less likely to get concussions from heading the ball or colliding with another player.
Weaker muscles can’t absorb as much force from an impact, leaving the skull and brain more vulnerable to damage. That’s one proposed reason why women suffer more severe symptoms and effects from concussions than men do.
But the good news is that neck muscles can get stronger like any other muscle. It’s just a matter of training them with the appropriate neck exercises.
Neck exercises to perform to lower concussion risk
- Side-to-side bends. This exercise involves gently bringing your ear toward your shoulder on each side.
- Side-to-side rotations. This exercise involves players slowly twisting their heads from side to side.
- Dumbbell shrugs. This exercise involves holding a pair of dumbbells in each hand and then raising the shoulders (and arms) while keeping them straight.
Other exercises involve more indirect movements that can still strengthen the neck. That said, it’s best to experiment and work with a strength and conditioning coach to find the best ones.
3. Wear chest protection where possible
Chest injuries don’t get much attention, but women should consider them. A hard hit to the chest can result in breast injuries that lead to nagging pain and occasionally hematomas that need medical treatment. The fix for this one is simple — wearing an armored crop top. It’s one of those underrated pieces of women’s soccer protective gear that can reduce torso trauma. For example, our Storelli BodyShield armored crop top is a prime example, and we recommend it to teenage and young adult women who play.
Storelli’s BodyShield armored crop top features
- Impact-resistant padding—Absorbs up to 90% of impact forces that could lead to injuries.
- Turf-burn-resistant materials—Protects the skin against the friction of sliding on turf (or grass) that could lead to turf burn injuries.
- Sweat-wicking fabrics—Minimizes the amount of sweat soaking through the fabric to keep players dry and prevent chafing.
4. Wear soccer concussion headgear
Last but not least, we recommend all players wear soccer headgear, if and where possible. For women, it’s wise to wear headgear because their risk of severe concussion symptoms and effects is higher, so it doesn’t hurt to use one.
Now there seems to be some skepticism about the efficacy of concussion headgear. We’ll say this: soccer headgear can’t prevent concussions 100%, but it can significantly reduce the impact forces that normally lead to a concussion. And lab studies confirm this.
When Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab researchers tested our ExoShield headguard, they found it could reduce head trauma by as much as 84%. Additionally, our headguard is the only one of its kind with an ASTM certification, which a product can only attain if it has demonstrated its ability to increase safety.
Storelli ExoShield headguard
- Impact-resistant—It contains engineered foam that helps reduce g-forces that contribute to head trauma and injuries.
- Military-grade materials—It contains materials used in helmets worn by the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
Making women’s safety a priority in soccer
Compared to their male counterparts, women’s safety in soccer has been neglected for too long. It’s one of the reasons why concussion research on women is lacking and why the USWNT will only be able to play on grass in 2023. But even if the focus isn’t there, the resources and tools are.
Here at Storelli, we’re committed to providing girls and women who play soccer with all the knowledge and gear they need to stay safe on the pitch. It’s our goal to help create a level playing field where women can unleash their inner beast without compromise.
Looking for women’s protective gear? Browse our women’s soccer gear selection for full-body, head-to-toe protection!