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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

Physioworks Health Group Physiotherapist Millie Berkhout, who is the current team physiotherapist for Collingwood AFLW and VFLW teams (since 2017), discusses why a high level of injuries are occurring in woman’s football.


Over the last two-three years there has been a large increase in participation in elite and community women’s football at both junior and senior level.

Health care professionals working in the female football environment are focusing on injury rates, including conducting research and reporting looking at aspects unique to females and how we can work to reduce or avoid injury.

The AFLW 2018 Injury Report showed that the two most common injuries leading to missed time in women’s football at the AFLW level are Concussion and ACL rupture – a pattern that is echoed in other contact sports involving women. The Report stated:

  • Concussion: There is 3.2 injuries per 1000 player hours in AFLW compared to just 1.5 injuries per 1000 hours in AFL (men)
  • ACL rupture: The rates are even more alarming; with 4.31 injuries per 1000 player hours in the AFLW compared to 0.7 per 1000 hours in the AFL (men)

There are many factors that lead to these injury differences; including:

  • Concussion: One of the key differences is neck strength
  • ACL rupture: Females are more susceptible due to a wide range of factors including differences in hormones, anatomy, strength, biomechanics.

As physios we are working with the athletes (and the clubs) to try to change the factors which we have control over, including strength and biomechanics (in particular jump and land technique).

As a physiotherapist working in an AFLW environment, I am contributing to a research study with Latrobe University called “Developing an optimised knee injury risk reduction training program for elite female Australian Rules Football players”.

New guidelines are being developed though this study to show a group of exercises that any females taking part in football should follow as a preventative for ACL rupture. These types of exercise programs should then be put in place all the way down to the community female football level.

If you are a female playing football, or any other contact sport (as many of these injury factors are similar across various codes) a basic screening by a physiotherapist at Physioworks Health Group can help develop and tailor a program to help you reduce your risk of injury, while also improving your strength and your performance.

Contact your preferred Physioworks Health Group clinic.