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Warrior Girls

Warrior Girls

Yet, another eye-opener of a book is Michael Sokolove’s Warrior Girls. Sokolove looks into the alarmingly high rate of injuries in girls participating in sports and investigates why this is happening. With the advent of Title IX which opened the door for women to reap the benefits of playing sports in college, the discovery and subsequent discussion of the high rate of injuries to girls has been met w/ mixed feelings. For those proponents of Title IX, there is a fear that any discussion that suggests that girls are not capable of playing sports will damage all of the gains made in the last 30 years. So even top officials w/in women sports are reluctant to admit that this is an issue. However, one can’t argue the facts that Warrior Girls brings out

  • Girls are 8 times more likely to rupture their ACL’s than boys.
  • They are more prone to concussions
  • They are also more likely to suffer from “Overuse” injuries such as Shin splints, stress fractures and back pain.

Combining research w/ personal accounts of girls who have suffered serious injuries, he is able to weave together a compelling argument that this discussion needs to happen NOW. Other points of interest…

  1. Physically and bio-mechanically, girls are very different than boys. Girls walk and run more upright than boys (the whole carrying a baby thing), they have a higher center of gravity which changes their running form, and they have wider hips which changes the angle to their knees. Some research also suggests that the muscles in the legs work and react differently than in boys. Even though physically they are different, all of the training, exercises and conditioning is done with a boy-centered approach.
  2. More research needs to be done as to the causes of ACL injuries. Researchers know what happens in certain cases, usually a change in direction that causes the ACL to rupture but there are many other seemingly innocent moments on the athletic fields where this injury occurs. Seems that very small changes in the biomechanics of planting a foot… w/out the needed slight-angle-bend to absorb the shock…instead landing more flat footed and placing all of the force on the knee… seems to be another cause. What causes those small changes which cause the injury? More research needs to be supported.
  3. There have been some very effective preventative exercise programs/initiatives started but these have been met w/ low enthusiasm. These programs involve a 30 minutes exercise/stretching/jumping sequence that teams should use prior to their practices/games. For those teams that utilize the program, the rate of ACL injuries to those girls drops substantially and pretty much disappears. This suggests that these programs work. However, coaches and even the players find it very difficult to give up the time in practice to do the program. Perhaps they would rather give up their entire season to surgery and rehab?
  4. Where are the parents? In cases where girls suffered multiple ACL injuries, their parents stated that they knew it was dangerous for their daughter to return to sports so quickly but that they couldn’t do anything to stop them. Their daughters were too driven and too stubborn to stay on the sidelines. I guess that the parents found it too difficult to say, “no” to their daughters in order to protect them. Who is calling the shots at home?

Big picture is that there has been this acceptance in women’s sports that 25% of their team members will have a catastrophic ACL injury… it’s just the way it is. What Sokolove’s main point is that this is NOT the way it has to be and with discussions, further research and prevention programs, girls will be able to participate in sports w/out the fear of crippling themselves.

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