Have you also noticed that AFL football has really been attracting a large number of girls and woman recently?
I love to see everyone getting out and becoming involved with sports and fitness activities; it’s so important for helping us stay healthy throughout our entire lives.
It’s so good to see that after so many years of excluding women, the sport has finally embraced the huge demand for women’s AFL.
Our genders should never dictate what we can or can’t do: it’s awesome to see so many girls and women out there kicking the Sherrin.
With the increase in women taking up AFL, I have started seeing many of my sporty female clients, present with a range of new injuries.
Historically, many women have played netball, a sport with very different movement patterns and physical stresses compared to football.
I see many super fit netballers who never get injured playing netball that are suddenly getting injuries with their new football career.
Being fit for one sport does not necessarily mean you will be fit for all sports.
Taking the time to prepare your body for the different actions of a new sport is important to help prevent injuries.
Overuse injuries occur when part of the body experiences load or stress beyond that which it can cope with.
This can occur with a sudden increase in training load or volume or by starting a new activity.
The actions of football are very different from netball.
Firstly, there is much more running in football compared with netball.
Netball typically consists of more short sprints with changes in direction while in football, there is more long distance running involved.
More running means there is more repetitive stress applied to muscles, joints, and ligaments that, in an unprepared body, can cause injury.
I have started to see more overuse injuries caused by poor running mechanics.
Another big difference between football and netball is the foot-ground contact.
In netball, shoes are designed to allow for a pivot to occur at the forefoot allowing the player to land and quickly rotate to change direction.
In football, however, the foot is fixed to the ground with players using cleats or sprigs for grip on soft, often boggy turf.
The lack of twisting capacity while wearing football shoes places a larger strain on both the knee and ankle so great care needs to be taken with sudden direction changes.
Another issue with football shoes is that most players will only have one pair of shoes for all conditions.
At the elite level, football teams will often use a range or football shoes to match the playing conditions of the day.
In wet, long grass conditions, a longer cleat or sprig will be required for grip compared to drier, short grass conditions.
Research has confirmed using more than 1 pair of shoes to mix up the load on your feet helps to reduce injury rates.
Having two pairs of football boots with different sprig profiles for different playing conditions will help to reduce possible injury rates.
Another source of potential injury is the full contact tackling that occurs with football.
Now, I have seen some rather nasty contact injuries occur in netball when two players rush towards a loose ball.
One of the differences in football, however, is that as one player rushes to tackle another player, that player is expected to ‘break’ the tackle or play the ball on quickly to their teams' advantage.
These sudden movements often involve a lot of rotations of the body or direction changes which massively increases the risk of injury of joints like knees, ankles and the many smaller joints in the feet.
Many of my clients who play netball use ankle braces due to a history of, or concern about, ankle sprains.
The research is pretty clear on the biggest risk for an ankle sprain is having had an ankle sprain in the last 6 months.
Now, I can’t remember the last time I saw a footballer playing the game while using an ankle brace.
I would always encourage my clients playing football with a history of ankle sprains to, at the very least, tape their ankles to protect themselves.
Lots of people love football.
It's great to see so many women now involved in our national sport.
Here is my Top 3 for anyone starting a new sport:
At Complete Podiatry, our team can provide you with advice about the right shoes, injury management strategies and teach you how to best prepare your body for Football.
Click here to book an appointment now and let us help keep you on the field playing the sport you love.
Complete Podiatry, Owner and Principal Podiatrist