A program for Female Australian Footballers
Female participation in football is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide. However, the physiological, psychological and social benefits of sports participation can be offset by injury. Commonly in football, Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee are immediately disabling, take a significant amount of time to rehabilitate and are associated with an increased risk of early onset post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
ACL injuries in females have been identified to be 2 to 5 times more likely when compared against men in other field based sports.
In AFLW it is even higher at 5 to 6 times more likely than AFL players. This is a considerably high number and a number of modifiable risk factors have been identified including training backgrounds or experience, landing strategies, sport-specific skills, training load and footwear or ground surface.
Team based exercise injury prevention programs have been previously tested in Netball (Netball Knee) and Soccer (FIFA 11+) with a reduction of injuries demonstrated. Prep-to-Play developed by La Trobe University is an injury prevention program focussing on improving strength, balance, and whole body biomechanics during activities similar to non-contact ACL injury mechanisms (such as changing direction or landing from a marking contest).
Prep-to-Play is currently being utilised by local women’s football teams in the Geelong region to determine its effectiveness at reducing injury. Prep-to-Play has four distinct components which include a dynamic warm up, football skills, strength exercises and education. Furthermore, this injury prevention program is aimed at being football coach driven during training and game days.
I will be assisting La Trobe University in implementing the Prep-to-Play injury prevention program across the Geelong region. This program interests me due to my previous experience working with female sporting teams including Port Melbourne VFLW, Geelong Falcons NAB League and Geelong Supercats NBL1. I have unfortunately witnessed the impact a serious knee injury can have on a female’s sporting career, and I am motivated to see this injury burden and risk in female athletes reduced.
My previous physiotherapy experience working with teams has given me the skillset in diagnosing knee injuries and designing an evidence-based rehabilitation pathway consistent with patient goals and beliefs. I am available for consultation at Corio Bay Health Group at the Geelong clinic Monday to Friday.