When it comes to the world of Strength & Conditioning there’s a lot of information to wade through in regards to the exercises female athletes could or should be doing? Our customers will often ask questions related to equipment that they purchase and recently we’ve been getting more questions around equipment for female athletes. With the rise and rise of professional women’s sport we’ve reached out to Sean Baker, owner of PEAQ Conditioning, a passionate Strength & Conditioning Coach who is helping raise standards in the industry. He is also currently blazing the trail of closing the gap between male and female athletes.
Sean -There is a significantly higher rate of ACL injuries in female athletes compared to their male counterparts. What are some of the preventative measures female athletes can take?
In the early stages of society realising that female athletes posed significantly higher risks of injury, it was assumed that this increased risk was caused only by the physiological make-up and biomechanics of the female anatomy (Hips/Knees etc..).
As research continues to delve deeper into these issues, we are finding that this is only one piece of the puzzle.
Muscular strength is strongly correlated with helping to prevent injury and has therefore been prioritised when working with female athletes. On top of this, more recent research is suggesting that the number one issue leading to injury (for both Males and Females, but Females in particular) is Neuromuscular control.
For those that have never heard of it, the difference between Strength and Neuromuscular Control is as follows:
Muscular Strength – A muscle’s ability to be able to produce a maximal amount of force in one contraction.
Neuromuscular Control – A complex interacting system that results in an ability to purposefully produce or reduce force, based on the desired outcome.
For ACL rehab/prehab in particular, we are seeing an integration of Strength and Neuromuscular training being implemented, in order to provide females the best opportunity to maximise their performance, without injuring themselves.
Initially to develop a female athlete’s lower body strength, we would focus on some the the following key movements-
– Romanian Deadlifts
– Landing Mechanics
– Running Mechanics
From there, to translate this lower body strength into full body movements, we progress to Olympic Lifting Exercises. Beginning with exercises such as High Pulls/Jump Shrugs and when ready we progress onto Cleans, Snatch and Jerk variations. These types of exercises all require an initial lower body movement (eg hip, knee and ankle extension), before catching with your upper body. I suggest that you aim to complete these exercises under Coach supervision to ensure technique and safety are paramount.
They take a little while to master, however are really effective in maximising your long term athletic development.