Leah Williamson

Mr. Shah Punwar recently attended the ‘Sports Knee Surgery’ event in Edgbaston, focusing on ACL prevention and rehab. There, an insightful interview unfolded between Leah Williamson, the England Lionesses captain, and Austin Healey, an ex-England Rugby player who has undergone total knee replacement surgery.

Williamson’s experience with an ACL injury, a common injury among women in football, was a focal point of discussion. Coincidentally, Healey also experienced an ACL injury ahead of a World Cup game. She highlighted the challenges and the importance of proper rehabilitation and injury prevention in sports.

Here, we explore some key takeaways from the event, and why women are more susceptible to ACL injuries in high impact sports.

Female football players suffering ACL injuries

Williamson ACL InjurySharing her own experience with an ACL injury, Leah shed light on the critical issue of this being so prevalent in women’s football. Women can suddenly find themselves playing football at elite level from the age of 18. This differs to men, who can begin a structured athletic development programme from the age of 9.

Another aspect is the importance of a proper warm-up before activity. Healy and Williamson discussed how crucial it was to adopt proper warming up protocols from a young age. Now, after the success of the lionesses and with more girls encouraged to take up football, this is more important than ever.

“At school we all do PE, so introduce it there, and make it second nature,” said Williamson.

Her ACL injury, like many others in high-level sports, was exacerbated by the demanding schedule of games, which often does not allow adequate time for rest and recovery. This rigorous scheduling can increase the risk of injuries, making prevention and proper rest periods crucial for athletes.

What is an ACL Injury?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments that help stabilise the knee joint. An ACL injury is a tear or sprain of this ligament, often occurring in sports that involve sudden stops, jumps, or changes in direction.

These injuries can be debilitating, requiring extensive rehabilitation and, in some cases, surgical intervention. The recovery process can be lengthy and challenging, which makes effective treatment and rehabilitation strategies crucial.

ACL injuries typically occur when the knee is forced into an unnatural position, often during high-impact or rapid-movement sports. This excessive stress can cause the ACL, which is crucial for knee stability and smooth joint movement, to stretch or tear.

The severity of an ACL injury can range from a mild strain (where the ligament is slightly stretched) to a complete tear, where the ligament is split into two parts. Recovery and treatment plans vary based on the severity of the injury and the person’s overall health and activity level.

Why ACL Injuries Affect So Many Women in Sports

ACL injuries are particularly prevalent in women’s sports, with athletes in football, skiing, bouldering, and netball often affected.

Factors that increase the risk include:

  • Anatomical differences
  • Hormonal influences
  • The biomechanics of movement in women

Leah’s experience and Healey’s insights at the Sports Knee Surgery talk, highlight the importance of understanding proper warming-up exercises for ACL prevention, and total adherence to prehab should surgical treatment be needed, as well as the rehab which follows.

If you have experienced an ACL injury, schedule an appointment with Mr. Shah Punwar today. With his extensive experience, he can assess the injury and recommend the best treatment plan to help ensure the best recovery. Early intervention is crucial to help you get back to the sport you love.

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