The female body is unique and has many physiological differences to their male body. At SportsCare, we respect and acknowledge that there are differences between male and female bodies that influence on our physiotherapy and exercise interventions. In this blog, we’re talking all things Women in Sport: some of the physiological differences, empowering women and girls with information they need to perform, and we explore some of our staff’s achievements in women’s sport.
Not only are there differences to our physical make up, such as typically smaller bodies , but there are also differences in body composition. Female bodies will typically have lower muscle mass, lower bone mass, and a higher percentage of body fat compared to male bodies.
These physiological differences usually become evident in different bodies’ specific responses to various levels of training and competition. However, research has shown that men and women experience similar relative strength gains when training under the same program.1
While training for females is not drastically different to that which is designed for male athletes, there are some factors and adjustments that can assist female athletes in their performance and health.
‘Power to the Girls’ Information Sessions:
Female athletes may not always completely understand all there is to know about the different factors to consider for sport and exercise.
After noticing a lack of public information available for girls and women training, Georgia Clayden (SportsCare Physiotherapist) and Angharad Llewellyn (Canberra local, AG World Champion Triathlete, and SportsCare client) invited female athletes to join them in July 2022 to share information on how to get the most out of their bodies. The session provided insightful knowledge for female athletes to better manage their nutritional needs, physiotherapy, injury prevention, and strength and conditioning while training.
Angharad says that too many young female athletes are lost to their sport before they get the opportunity to excel.
“I want to provide young female athletes with the knowledge that I wish I had at the same age,” said Angharad.
“We lose many talented athletes in their younger years, often due to injuries or being burnt out. Not all senior athletes have come from a high-performance pathway and I want to give all athletes the opportunity to be better and increase their longevity in their sport.”
Some of the topics covered in the session included:
Common injuries in female athletes
- Bone Stress Injuries (BSI) and stress fractures are overuse injuries associated with repeated loading on bone by strenuous weight-bearing activities (such as running, jogging, or marching) and inadequate recovery periods
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, or “shin splints”
- Tendinopathy is usually a type of overuse injury, where the tendon is repeatedly strained until tiny tears form.
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease or Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Syndrome
- Sever’s disease (also known as calcaneal apophysitis).
Team sport participants:
- Ankle sprains
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries.
Female specific strength and conditioning basics
- Optimising training time + methods
- Pelvic floor
Power to the Girls sessions are held throughout the year at the Dickson Woolley St clinic. Contact the Woolley St clinic for more information regarding the information sessions with Angharad and Georgia.
Working with women in sport in Canberra
In 2018, SportsCare and Physiotherapy partnered with the UC Capitals after two seasons providing high-quality support to the team.
Principal Partner of SportsCare and Physiotherapy, Louise Roantree, said she saw great and long-term potential in supporting one of Canberra’s biggest women’s teams.
“As a local business of 21 years, we are always keen to support local teams and clubs within the Canberra community. It was an easy decision and it’s a privilege to support a high-performance team such as the Capitals.
“The players are consistently professional and respectful of the physiotherapy service provided, which really makes our job easier. The opportunity also means supporting women in sport which aligns with our advocacy in our daily practice.”
We are very excited to continue working with the Caps in Season 2021-22, with Rob and Sophie supporting the team from Canberra.
SportsCare also works with a number of local teams, providing physiotherapy and sports training services to local elite female teams, including University of Canberra Rugby 7s, Arawang Netball Association, Molonglo Juggernauts Football Club, Gungahlin United Football Club, and more.
Last year, Louise chatted with UC Caps superstars Keely Froling and Marianna Tolo about performance, rest and recovery, mental resilience, and leadership.
Asked about what makes a good leader, UC Caps co-captain Marianna said it’s important to recognise your strengths and consider what you can bring to your team or environment.
“With Kelsey (Kelsey Griffin, co-captain with Tolo), we complement each other well, and she has different strengths, and I have different strengths, and I think it’s important to focus on what makes you “you” and what you can bring to the team or to the environment.”
Keely says that her captains lead by example and show the rest of the team what is expected of them on and off the court.
“You know, our leaders Kelsey and Tolo are our hardest workers, and that makes such a difference. When your leaders are working hard, then you have to go to that level otherwise it’s like you get left behind,” said Keely.
“You can see that on the court, you can see how hard they play. Things like diving on loose balls, getting those rebounds, and the crowd is seeing that and obviously as a teammate you’re seeing that too, and it makes you think ‘I need to, if not perform at that level, then at least try as hard as you can.”
Some SportsCare staff have experience competing at a high level
SportsCare staff are not only leading the way in Physiotherapy, but many of them either currently compete in their sport of choice at a high level, or have in the past, and are now bringing this first-hand knowledge and experience to their work.
This includes, but is not limited to, some of our staff identified below, who bring first-hand knowledge, skills and experience to our SportsCare clinics.
Michaela Leonard has experience in several sports including Little Athletics, swimming, horse riding, basketball, CrossFit, OzTag, rugby league, and most recently rugby union. In 2021, Michaela was named as captain of the Brumbies Super W team, and she is a current Wallaroos player (Australia’s national women’s rugby union team).
Georgia Clayden has played both netball and AFL at a high level and was ACTAS Scholarship recipient for netball over approximately 10 years. As a Physiotherapist, Georgia is interested in youth and adolescent injuries and is passionate about helping girls and women understand their bodies and how to get the most of out of their training. Georgia runs the Power to the Girls information sessions with local triathlete Angharad Llewellyn.
SportsCare Partner Lou Roantree is a former Dragon Boat athlete with 2 bronze medals with the Australian Aurora’s team at the 10th IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships in Florida and at the 8th International Club Crew Championships in Hong Kong Whilest holding a seat in the Women’s and Mixed crews, she joined the Men’s team in races to provide leadership and a more level-headed mindset. Lou also was selected to lead the teams as captain at both championships. Lou brings her resilience and mindset to the clinic as an Accredited Hand Therapist, Physiotherapist and business leader.