The health of sportswomen is being highlighted as a major concern in the sports industry. Recent statistics reveal that only six percent of research conducted in sport science and medicine in 2020 focused exclusively on females. While injuries, such as ACL tears in women’s football, have drawn attention to the need for more research and resources, there are other important topics that need to be discussed, including menstruation, menopause, breast support, and pelvic floor health. Prominent sportswomen like Beth Mead, Dina Asher-Smith, and Eilish McColgan are advocating for more research on how menstrual cycles affect performance.
Some progress has been made in certain areas, such as tracking menstrual cycles to tailor training programs in women’s football and rugby teams. However, the lack of research on women’s health is primarily due to various factors. Women have monthly hormonal cycles on top of their daily rhythms, making it more challenging to study them at specific times. Moreover, many women may be hesitant to volunteer for research or may not have been asked to participate. Bridging this research gap requires conducting more studies on females and presenting the evidence in a practical manner that can be applied by coaches and practitioners.
To address this issue, organizations like The Well HQ are working to educate and influence policymakers about the importance of understanding and studying women’s health. The goal is to mandate and include women’s health in global governing bodies, national governing bodies, and continental governing bodies. By doing so, there will be dedicated budgets, personnel, and guidance to support research and implementation of women-specific practices in sports.
In addition to injury prevention and performance optimization, issues like proper breast support are also essential for women athletes. Wearing a well-fitting sports bra can improve performance by as much as four percent. Overall, it is crucial to bridge the research gap and ensure that female athletes receive the support and resources they need to excel in their sports and maintain their health.