Youth: 4 Common Women’s Soccer Injuries & How To Reduce the Risks

Dec 29, 2020

*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*

Women’s soccer is more popular than ever, with over 30 million women playing soccer worldwide. It is a well-loved sport and often considered a low-risk, with many health and social benefits for players.  Recent studies have shown a risk of injury and a significantly higher risk of injury for female players. 

In this article, we’ll look at the most common soccer injuries for women and what players, coaches, and parents can do to reduce the risks for young players. 

Most Common Soccer Injuries For Women

The reason women soccer players are more at risk for specific injuries has to with their physiology. Many researchers think this is related to hormone shifts and differences in muscle size compared to men.

  • Men release large amounts of testosterone during puberty, which protects their growing muscles. Women have a low testosterone level that doesn’t keep up with their growing muscles and creates a muscular imbalance, making them more susceptible to injuries.
  • Women also have a wider pelvis, which creates a larger Q angle where the femur and tibia meet. This angle puts greater force on the ACL, which can lead to more injuries. 

Here is a list of the most common soccer injuries for women’s soccer:

1. ACL Injuries

ACL Injuries are a common risk for any soccer player. An ACL injury is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament - which is one of the main ligaments in your knee. It most often occurs through sudden stops or shifts of direction and lateral movements and when jumping and landing, all of which are very common in soccer. 

Women are especially at risk for ACL injury. A research study found that ACL ruptures in women were 1.3 times more likely than in men. And ACL injuries take much longer to heal than other types of injuries and account for the most time lost. 

The reason that women are especially susceptible to ACL injuries has to do with their physiology. Researchers in the department of orthopedic surgery, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium “Women have a greater Q-angle, smaller ACL size, narrower intercondylar notch, and increased medial posterior tibial slope.”

How To Prevent Them

Training and exercise to strengthen and stabilize ACL muscles can help, but the most useful thing you can do is stretch before any exercise. Activities like single-leg balances, jump squats, and lateral squats work all work to strengthen the ACL. Also, training players to avoid placing their knees in vulnerable positions when landing or doing cut in maneuvers can reduce the risk of injury. 

2. Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are another common soccer injury for women. They make up 12.8% of all soccer-related injuries in women’s soccer. Ankle sprains occur when a player makes direct contact with another player, like during a collision or jumping for a header. They are also most likely to keep happening, so players need to pay attention to conditioning and rehab.

How To Prevent Them

Ankle strengthening exercises help injury prevention, and they can be done while you watch tv, or sit in class. The best ones include ankle circles, calf raises and moving your ankle in a pattern such as writing the alphabet. 

3. Concussions

Concussions happen when the brain is shaken or knocked against the skull. This type of injury can occur in a collision with another player or a fall. Surprisingly, concussions ars common in women’s soccer as in men’s football (NCAA, 2015). Concussions are serious brain injuries that can affect players long term.

How To Prevent Them

Awareness is key to preventing concussions. Players should be mindful when going for headers or when reaching for a ball. Tucking the chin and keeping the neck flexed when falling can protect the brain from whiplash 

Soccer protective gear, such as soccer headguards, can offer some protection for concussions in the case of collisions. The ExoShield Headguard has been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries by 84%. It is designed to fit men and women and is made with military-grade foam to protect your head without affecting your game.   

4. Quad and Hamstring Strains

Hamstring and quad strains account for 11.8% of all soccer injuries and are among the top forms of injury for women soccer players. They happen when players go in for a slide or collide with another player’s lower body. Also, you are more likely to strain your quad again if you’ve been injured before. 

How To Prevent Them

Stretching and rest are critical for quad and hamstring strains. You should always warm-up before practice and cool down after a game to keep your ligaments limber. You can also use some of the same ACL exercises to strengthen your quads and hamstring, such as single-leg balances and squats. Padded goalie pants such as Women’s Bodyshield GK legging 2 are specifically designed to prevent injuries to the lower body from turf burn and falls. 

At Storelli, we take injury prevention seriously. If you are looking for more soccer protective gear for women and younger players, look at our training section for the latest soccer protective equipment.
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