When are Women Most Likely to be Injured Playing Sports? Here’s the Answer

As the popularity of female sports has thankfully risen, a pattern has emerged that seems to suggest women are more likely to become injured through their participation than men. And, while work is ongoing to determine if that really is true, one thing that science can prove is that the female menstrual cycle seems to play a crucial role in the risk of being sidelined. Fortunately, breakthrough studies are empowering women to keep giving it their all.

There is already that women are far more likely to be struck with a cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury than their male counterparts. (source: ). The evidence shows that females could be 2.8 times more likely to tear an ACL than a man through soccer, and 3.5 times more likely in basketball. Of course, biologically speaking, there are physiologic differences between males and females, not least of which is . But, while hormones could play another obvious factor for influencing female injury, there wasn’t a major study that could explain why hormonal differences could lead to injuries, until now.

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Women are six-times more likely to suffer a muscle injury in the days before their period

from a study (source:  ) that monitored Women’s Super League soccer players, discovered that females were six-times more likely to pick up a muscle injury in the days before their monthly period. “We did this long-term monitoring study, which is really rare in women’s sports,” explained Dr Georgie Bruinvels, a senior author of the study at University College London, as . “To marry up injury data and menstrual cycles, it is novel yet it’s crazy that other people aren’t really doing it.”

Surprisingly, the women were at their lowest risk of injury during their period than in the two weeks before it. In the proceeding days, during the ‘pre-menstrual phase,’ players were six-times more likely to suffer an injury. Knowledge is power however, when it comes to making decisions around which players to choose for which games, and with the popularity of female sports like football and basketball on the increase, both coaches and players know that money is at stake when injuries occur, so being able to make decisions around when a player is at their fittest is essential. ’Everything you read about in the media is about being ‘on’ your period and getting injured on your period, and its detrimental effects to female footballers,” Barlow said. “I think this really showed that actually this phase where people are on their period – what we call phase one – was actually the lowest for injury risk. So, I think it was just helping to break the taboo that it’s not a case of either on your period or not, it’s a whole cycle that you go through, four phases. I hope this will lead to better conversations between players and coaches to help break down some of the taboo around the menstrual cycle.” Dr Bruinvels added: “I feel like the narrative needs to be, in a way, positive around this. We’re seeing something; females are different. Females are more variable than males. But let’s, like, do something about it and support our female athletes better.”


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