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Supporting female performance in sport and fitness
Supporting female performance in sport and fitness

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Session 6: Injuries and the female athlete


As the number of females participating in sport and fitness has increased, trends have been identified in the types of injuries that occur more frequently in female athletes than male athletes. At the start of this session you will hear from Dr Emma Ross, of The Well HQ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , explaining which injuries are most common in females and what can be done to help prevent them.

In this session you will be exploring these injuries in more detail and assess their causes as well as what a coach or fitness trainer can do to make the athlete less susceptible to such injuries.

By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • understand why female athletes are more susceptible to specific injuries than male athletes
  • appreciate how changes in hormone levels may impact on injury prevalence
  • improve awareness of how coaches and trainers can help female athletes to reduce the risk of injury.

There are anatomical, physiological and hormonal factors that can predispose male and female athletes to different types of injuries and varieties in the severity of symptoms. These factors start with hormonal changes that occur at puberty where males experience increases in testosterone that strengthen muscles and make them more effective at supporting joints.

In females the rises in oestrogen levels at puberty cause muscles to become more flexible and joints less stable, increasing the risk of injuries from this stage onwards (Bompa and Carrera, 2015). At the other end of the lifecycle, females experience the menopause where oestrogen levels decline. Since oestrogen plays a role in muscle repair and regeneration (including maintaining bone density), injury risk presents differently in females across their lifespan (Enns and Tiidus, 2010).