Background: In contrast to the high number of studies about soccer injuries in men, epidemiologic data in high-level female soccer players are scarce.
Purpose: Analysis of injury incidence in elite female soccer players.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: There were 165 female soccer players (age, 22.4 +/- 5.0 years) from 9 teams competing in the German national league, who were followed for one complete outdoor season. Their trainers documented the exposure to soccer on a weekly basis for each player, and the team physical therapists reported all injuries with regard to location, type, and circumstances of occurrence. An injury was defined as any physical complaint associated with soccer that limited sports participation for at least 1 day.
Results: There were 241 injuries sustained by 115 players (70%) reported; 39 injuries (16%) were owing to overuse, and 202 injuries (84%) were traumatic. Overall, 42% of the traumatic injuries occurred during training (2.8/1000 hours of training; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-3.4) and 58% during matches (23.3/1000 match hours; 95% confidence interval, 19.1-27.5); 102 of the traumatic injuries were caused by a contact situation, whereas 95 occurred without any contact. Most injuries (80%) were located at the lower extremities, concerning mainly the thigh (n = 44), knee (n = 45), and ankle (n = 43). Ankle sprain (n = 37) was the most often diagnosed injury. There were 51% minor injuries, 36% moderate injuries, and 13% major injuries. Eleven anterior cruciate ligament ruptures were observed during the season.
Conclusion: The results revealed a high injury incidence rate in games as well as a comparably low incidence rate during training. An important finding of this investigation was the frequent occurrence of anterior cruciate ligament ruptures. Preventive measures should thus focus on the high prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament tears, mostly occurring in noncontact situations.