Youth: Women Footballers Who Overcame Injuries
Jan 25, 2021
*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*
Women’s soccer has become one of the most exciting and most watched sports in the world. These athletes have inspired young players to follow their dreams to reach the highest level in soccer. Many professional players faced adversity along the way in the form of serious injuries.
In this post, we’ll look at three inspirational female athletes who have overcome their injuries and hope to show young athletes how they can reduce their injury risk along with some practical lessons on recovery.
Alex Morgan is a star on the Women’s US soccer team. She is probably one of the most recognizable players on the team and was awarded the “Best Female Athlete Award'' at the ESPYs. She’s had multiple injuries in her career, including an MCL sprain and hamstring injury. Her most serious injury, however, was an ACL tear as a high school soccer player.
Following her injury, Alex had knee surgery, recovered and focused on rehab. Remarkably, she was playing again in five months. Her story is inspiring because she was able to recover from a severe knee injury, get successful treatment and went on to play soccer at the highest level.
Lang debuted for the Canadian women’s team when she was only 15 years old and played for Canada in the World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She suffered two serious ACL injuries in her right knee, and the pain was excruciating. Kara Lang was one of the brightest stars in Canadian Women’s soccer before her injuries forced her retirement in 2011.
Her story is incredibly inspiring because after announcing her retirement at age 24 from multiple ACL injuries, Lang decided to come back to professional soccer three years later.
In an article for Sports Net, she explained that the decision was a personal one and that she felt she hadn’t reached her full potential. “A lack of confidence held me back,” Lang says. “And as much as this rehabilitation process has been about physical work, a lot of it has been about the mental work. I’ve learned self-belief is what makes the difference.”
Claire Rafferty initially blamed herself for her ACL injuries. The former England International and Chelsea left-back sustained her first ACL injury in her left knee when she was only fifteen years old. Rafferty spent years in rehab after having knee surgery to repair it. In 2011, she ruptured the ACL in her right leg. She injured it again in 2013 in a match against Everton after a bad landing.
Claire is working with a research team at the University of Roehampton to understand ACL injuries’ underlying biomechanics and how female athletes can train more effectively to prevent injuries. They hope to add to the data to help coaches understand why women are far more likely to sustain ACL injuries in soccer than men.
According to Andrew Greene, a senior lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics at the University of Roehampton, who is working with Rafferty, “Women participating in team sports are four to six times more likely to get an ACL injury, depending on the task.” He also explains that most of the existing research focuses on men’s soccer injuries, and this research is not applicable to women as their injuries are very distinct.
They hope that more research will help professional players understand how to prevent future injuries for young players. Thanks to Claire, we’ll all have a better understanding of the underlying biomechanics of ACL injuries.
These three athletes show true grit and perseverance in the face of adversity and are an inspiration to young athletes looking to overcome their injuries. At Storelli, we want young athletes to play at the top of their game and carry equipment to help. For high-performance protective gear and equipment, take a look at our Women’s Collection today.