By Ken Reed

It’s a fairly well-known fact in the world of sports that female athletes suffer ACL injuries at a much higher rate than their male counterparts, especially in sports with a lot of cutting and contact, like soccer and basketball.

In fact, women soccer players are up to six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men.

There are multiple theories as to why females suffer these injuries more than males (e.g., menstrual cycles, width of hips, the shape and volume of women’s feet, etc.) but, to date, there is little scientific evidence supporting any of these theories.

“We published a paper about a year ago which showed that, in sport and exercise science research, only about six percent of the studies are done exclusively on females – meaning they study things that are happening to the female body – so we don’t have a lot of research on female athletes,” says female health specialist Dr Emma Ross.

The discrepancy in the amount of exercise and sport research done with female athletes — especially when it comes to injuries — is something that quickly needs to be addressed.

In 2022, there were 293,105 male athletes and 229,060 female athletes participating in NCAA sports. The numbers are even closer in high school sports. Given those facts, it’s ridiculous that only six percent of exercise and sport research dollars are exclusively done on females.

“I think it’s important that we, as a collective, try and get more done for ACLs and research into it,” says Arsenal and England soccer star Beth Mead, the victim of a serious ACL injury. “I think it is way too common in the women’s game. If that ever happened in the men’s game, a lot more would have been done sooner.”

For sure.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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