England vice-captain Jordan Nobbs calls for more research on injuries during menstruation

England's Jordan Nobbs is calling for more research on injuries sustained during menstruation. (Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates /Getty Images)
England's Jordan Nobbs is calling for more research on injuries sustained during menstruation. (Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates /Getty Images)

England national team vice-captain Jordan Nobbs will miss the World Cup in June due to a ruptured ACL she sustained in February, and her injury experience has opened her eyes to the lack of sports research dedicated to women.

Nobbs, who plays for both the English national team and for Arsenal, told the BBC that she ruptured her ACL the day she started her period. Until then, she’d had no idea that women suffer more ACL injuries than men do, and those injuries often happen during menstruation due to the release of a hormone that increases flexibility.

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Why that isn’t a widely known fact may be due to the underrepresentation of women in sports research. A 2016 survey of sports medicine research papers found that out of 188 papers submitted over a two-year period, 42 percent of participants were women, but only four percent of the papers studied women only. And just a minute percentage of studies on injury and performance were done on women only. In fact, some studies that are done on mostly or only men have their results applied to both men and women.

That can mean that women don’t have the information they need when it comes maximizing performance, preventing injuries, and recovering from injury. And while Nobbs isn’t saying that her ruptured ACL happened because she had started menstruating, she knows it could have been a factor.

Nobbs is calling for more research on women in sports so she and others can have the knowledge to know how to handle their bodies at various times. And given the number of women playing professional sports around the world, knowledge about the incidence of knee injuries (or any injuries) and menstruation can only help women stay healthy. Via the BBC:

"But I think, how much do our clubs and physiotherapists and scientists know about when we're on our menstrual cycle?

"There does need to be more research put into place and more knowledge, so they know when people go out to training they've done as much as they can to reduce the risk of a knee injury."

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