Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports at the high school and collegiate levels. In fact, there are nearly 15 times more female wrestlers in high school now than there were in 1994!1 If you don’t already have a women’s wrestling program or a female wrestler on your team, it’s just a matter of time until you do.
What You Need to Know
As the sport continues to gain traction, it’s important for coaches, parents, and others in the wrestling community to recognize the different health challenges facing female athletes. For instance, did you know females are more prone to the most common sports-related injuries?2
So why are they more susceptible to injuries? It could be because of basic anatomy differences. Females typically have:
- Less muscle mass and more body fat
- Looser ligaments
- A wider pelvis causing misalignment of the knee and ankle
- Flatter feet
- Narrower space in the knee for the ACL to run through
- Higher likelihood of calcium and vitamin D deficiencies2
Another thing that can contribute to higher injury rates, particularly bone-related injuries like stress fractures, is an issue called “The Female Athlete Triad.”3,4
Let’s take a closer look at The Female Athlete Triad:
- Insufficient energy availability. This means there are more calories being expended than consumed, which can affect energy levels and performance. Be aware that this condition may be associated with an eating disorder.2,4,5
- Menstrual dysfunction. Intense exercise, not getting enough calories, and an unbalanced diet can lead to amenorrhea (the absence of periods). Amenorrhea can cause headaches, pelvic pain, and acne; it can even lead to serious complications like osteoporosis and infertility.5,6
- Osteoporosis. Bone loss, or osteoporosis, can result from low estrogen levels, poor nutrition, and calcium deficiency. Bone loss can increase the risk of bone fractures and other injuries.4,5
Preventing Injury & Encouraging Healthy Habits
Encouraging good nutrition is one of the most important ways you can help your female wrestlers stay healthy, avoid injury, and perform optimally. Some athletes may benefit from supplemental vitamins or minerals. Calcium and iron are especially important.7
Injury prevention programs that include things like muscle development, strengthening, and balance improvement can also help.7
To address The Female Athlete Triad, avoid setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to body weight and body image.5 If you’re concerned about eating disorders, learn to recognize the signs. You can view signs of anorexia here and signs of bulimia here.
Don’t Forget Skin Protection
Preventing skin infections is another important part of keeping all your wrestlers healthy. The good news is, there’s an easy step you can take to give them the skin support they need — add advanced hygiene with Theraworx Protect. Applying our non-toxic, no-rinse solution before and after practices and meets supports your wrestlers’ natural skin barrier.
1. Women’s wrestling facts & resources. NWCA website. http://www.nwcaonline.com/growing-wrestling/growing-womens-wrestling/womens-wrestling-facts-resources/. Accessed December 13, 2017.
2. The gender gap in sports injuries. Harvard Health Publishing website – Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-gender-gap-in-sports-injuries-201512038708. Accessed December 13, 2017.
3. Barrack MT, Gibbs JC, De Souza MJ, et al. Higher incidence of bone stress injuries with increasing female athlete triad-related risk factors: a prospective multisite study of exercising girls and women. Am J Sports Med. 2012;86(4):350-355.
4. Sport injuries: are women more at risk? Pharmacy Times website. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2014/june2014/sports-injuries-are-women-more-at-risk. Accessed December 13, 2017.
5. The female athlete triad. American College of Sports Medicine website. https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/the-female-athlete-triad.pdf. Accessed December 13, 2017.
6. Amenorrhea. MayoClinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20369299.
7. 5 common sports injuries in young female athletes. Throne Research website. https://www.thorne.com/education/health-lifestyle/ART-20258051/5-common-sports-injuries-in-young-female-athletes. Accessed December 13, 2017.