Athletes Want Robust Support and Education Around All Aspects of Women Athlete Health

The Kyniska Advocacy Group has conducted a report on the health of women athletes called The Athlete Health Survey.

“769 UK athletes were surveyed, these women represent a wide range of abilities and activities. This report summarises findings from the sample population and presents evidence-based recommendations for UK sports stakeholders.”

The Athlete Health Survey was developed and distributed by Pippa Woolven (founder of Project RED-S and former elite athlete), Kate Seary and Mhairi Maclennan (co-founders of Kyniska Advocacy and current elite athletes). Their athlete-led organisations advocate for progressive policies and safe, sustainable practices in sport.

Some of the issues looked at in this study include: “the menstrual cycle and its four distinct phases; the effects of natural versus hormonal methods of contraception on athletic performance; and how nutrition, training and recovery methods can be tailored to help female athletes prevent injury, illness, and optimise performance.”

While we are happy to confidently say that strides have been made and the Visibility Gap is closing. The media, supporters and corporates are coming to the party. Women’s games are selling out with attendance records being broken across the globe. There’s still room for improvement however, from South Africa to England to Australia, women’s sport is seeing an increase in participation and investment.

With that said, with involvement of female athletes being at its highest level, we have no blue print or manual on how to deal with women’s health in sport. Everything we are seeing now is all new so there’s very little data to extract from and learn from. Which is why such studies are very crucial.

Most recently, Janine Beckie called for better research into the prevalence of injuries in women’s football. This following the devastating news that she won’t be playing in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Studies have found that women are up to six times more likely to sustain the injury. However, Beckie says that statistics like these shouldn’t be normalized. “I do believe that if the same thing happened even with Arsenal’s men’s side with probably their three best players, that should be enough for a: ‘Why is this happening? Look into this,’” Beckie told Reuters.

Availability of educational resources about female athlete health is improving, but sport stakeholders too often provide or publish them without paying specific attention to who is receiving what education, when, and whether it is even effective at preventing female athlete health related illness/injury.

With only 4% of participants receiving structured support from sport’s National Governing Bodies, it is clear that athletes are not finding the education they need through their sport, and are instead being forced to seek information elsewhere.

Speaking to the athletes specifically, the report states that athletes want robust support and education around all aspects of female athlete health, and that this support should be holistic and multifaceted.

“Our respondents specifically stated the need for better education around female anatomy and physiology, including the pelvic floor, musculoskeletal system, development of strength and injury prevention. They wished for more education on the menstrual cycle, including the four phases, common impacts women experience, and how to adjust training and nutrition to mitigate symptoms and better support their training.”

We hope that such studies are shared the world over so that we know where improvements are needed because at the end of the day, what precedes everything and is the health and well-being of women in sport. Men already enjoy that support. Let’s give afford women that same opportunity particularly if scientifically, they are more injury prone than others in certain aspects. But also women go through menstruation and child birth, care for them needs to take that into consideration.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/605d19d2a8f7856656d40fab/t/644a3ed2ab1dff42e83a9307/1682587351813/The+Female+Athlete+Report+2023.pdf

 

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