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Some of the world’s best female lacrosse players recently battled for the title of World Champion at the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship, hosted this year at Towson University. Women from over 30 countries competed in the event that began on June 29 and ran through July 9. The competition is considered the Olympics of lacrosse, given that it only happens every four years.
In partnership with USA Lacrosse, sports medicine experts from MedStar Health are honored to provide medical coverage for the summer-long series and two other premier lacrosse competitions, including the following:
- Women’s World Festival (June 30-July 8)
- Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse, season two (July 11-August 14)
This ‘Summer of Lacrosse’ is exciting, and it’s also an opportunity to highlight lacrosse injury prevention. Preventing injuries in women’s lacrosse requires a different approach than in men’s. While they’re both intense games with the same objective, there are significant differences in the rules, playing field, and level of contact, and injury patterns vary based on age, gender, and level of play. Although women’s lacrosse is considered to have less risk of injury than men’s lacrosse, it’s important to take steps to prevent injuries, whenever possible.
Men’s and women’s lacrosse are both fast-paced, intense games. But the rules and equipment are different. On the #MedStarHealthBlog, learn tips from two sports medicine experts on preventing injury in women's lacrosse: https://bit.ly/3P7aD1q.Click to Tweet
Lacrosse-specific injury prevention tips.
In women’s lacrosse, common injuries include ACL tears and muscle sprains. That’s because the fast-paced game requires frequent pivoting, cutting, and dodging, with or without contact. Other injuries include concussions, lacerations, and contusions, which can occur from incidental contact with the stick, ball, or another player. You can’t always eliminate the risk of injury, but the following tips can help you to reduce your chances of getting significantly hurt.
1. Wear well-fitting eye protection and mouthguards.
Although not required in other countries, girls and women in the U.S. are required to wear eye protection during lacrosse. This mandate surfaced in 2004 for all levels of female lacrosse play and has nearly eliminated sight-loss injuries in the women’s game, when worn appropriately. In addition, contusions around the eyes and nose decreased ten-fold since the ruling. Protective eyewear must be certified by the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) and fitted appropriately, which means:
- The front of the goggles should be wide enough for the face so that it rests along the temples and the forehead
- The band is tight enough for the goggles to be snug, but still comfortable
There are several different brands that meet the requirements, but most include a metal cage over the eye. It’s important to wear protective eyewear anytime you are near active play, even if you are on the sideline or warming up. In partnership with US Lacrosse, we’ve created both written and video instructions for effectively donning and removing proper-fitting goggles.
Well-fitting mouthguards are also important protective gear that can help to prevent injuries to the mouth and teeth.
2. Consider the pros and cons of protective headgear.
Women’s injury prevention warrants other protective equipment specific to the female lacrosse game. Men’s lacrosse involves plenty of intentional body-to-body contact, but most concussions and head injuries that occur in girl’s and women’s lacrosse happen from incidental stick and ball contact. Now, women can choose to wear an ASTM-certified protective headgear, which is similar to a soft bike helmet and can be worn at any level of play. Florida is currently the only state that mandates protective headgear for girl’s lacrosse played in public school.
Early research suggests headgear may reduce head injuries and concussions, however more studies are necessary. Headgear in other sports, like football or hockey, is proven to reduce the incidence of skull fractures and similar injuries. If we can validate that headgear definitively decreases concussions in women’s lacrosse, these findings will be unique and could lead to different protective mandates.
3. Perform research-backed warm-up exercises.
Players should be acclimatized to their sport, which means it’s important to warm up before play and cool down afterwards. Appropriate warm up ensures the muscles are ready to play before practice and game. Like other sports with ACL injury rates, USA Lacrosse has developed recommendations that help to ensure balanced muscular strength and coordination before intense play in a program called LAXPREP.
4. Know the injury philosophy of the coaching staff.
One way parents can help reduce the risk of serious injury is by being good consumers. If your child plays in a club or recreational lacrosse league, you should know how the coaching staff handles injuries. We recommend finding a team that has an emergency injury action plan and necessary medical equipment, like an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), at practice and games. This ensures the right equipment is nearby and ready to rescue an athlete suffering from cardiac arrest or other serious conditions.
5. Participate in a variety of sports, especially in younger years.
Kids should be playing lacrosse because it’s fun and they’re learning valuable lessons, like sportsmanship and perseverance. Young kids particularly should avoid focusing on a single sport and instead play several sports. Multi-sport participation is proven to reduce ACL injury and help kids to be better, healthier athletes.
MedStar Health’s unique partnership with USA Lacrosse.
For over 25 years, MedStar Health has partnered with USA Lacrosse to care for lacrosse athletes across all levels of play. This state-of-the-art care is delivered in the national headquarters for USA Lacrosse at MedStar Health Medical Center at Hunt Valley and around the world. In addition to exceptional clinical care, both organizations work together to conduct research and educate on injury prevention, ensuring safe, enjoyable play for lacrosse athletes in the U.S. and internationally. And, these same experts providing care for the lacrosse pro’s offer the same compassionate, personalized sports medicine care to the community at convenient locations in Baltimore and the surrounding region.