Your pelvic floor is the epicentre of everything for a female athlete

We have to have general conversations around playing surfaces and types of footwear, or menstrual cycles, but they’re each merely a part of the conversation. Why are only eight per cent of all sports scientists in football women? Similarly with physics, medics and analysts, we need experts in women’s bodies.So there has to be education, from experts, and I fundamentally don’t believe there are enough experts in all the fields within most women’s clubs to have a multidisciplinary approach to putting together the right programmes, to keep players on the pitch and reduce the chances of injuries.As an entire industry, women’s sport lacks expertise. It seems to me as though we have a lot of people coming into the women’s game with relatively little experience in their fields, whereas for example in the men’s Premier League, they largely bring in experts at the top of their field because they can afford to pay for the best.I don’t believe anybody else out there will do anything at the level we do it at, at Chelsea. But that’s about hiring the best staff in the right positions, and everyone working as a team to be able to keep everyone on the pitch, and our communication is critical with it as well. For example, it’s often easy to ignore some small symptoms about hip pain, if you’re not experienced enough, and you might tell someone to keep pushing – then all of a sudden a stress fracture develops. But with proper knowledge of women’s bodies, you can avoid injuries being caused by other injuries.It’s not possible to completely remove injuries from sport – there are always risks in competition – but it’s about minimising risk. You need to know what the red flags are and understand them, and not ignore them.You have to track everything, and track the minutes players are playing, track how many games they’ve played per calendar year, track when they pick up their injury processes, spot the red flags, and it’s so multi-factorial that it requires high-level skilled multi-disciplinary teams to be able to solve that.We’ve wanted to lead the way at Chelsea for this reason because we want people to invest in expertise in women’s fitness and women’s sport. So we have a women’s health coach. We have a pelvic floor coach. We have movement programmes designed to help the players deal with different phases of their period. It’s all individualised to each player and their body, and we believe in these things, wholeheartedly.You might be reading this asking, “Why do they have a pelvic floor coach?” Well, your pelvic floor is the epicentre of everything for a female athlete especially. There are huge issues with leakage with women. More than 50 per cent of all athletes will have leakage issues, because their pelvic floors are not as robust as others. Everything in your core is developed from how robust your pelvic floor is, because of what we have to manage with our hips. Those muscles control everything from peeing to giving birth to engaging our lower stomach muscles to be able to thrive as an athlete, so a woman’s pelvic strength is so critical.Of course we are talking about injuries now partly because England are missing one of their most important players, Keira Walsh, for Tuesday’s World Cup game against China. We don’t yet know what the full extent of her knee problem is, but thankfully it is not an ACL injury.Her absence is undoubtedly a huge loss for England – as we saw in the second half of England’s win against Denmark. Denmark’s press put England’s backline under pressure in the second half, because they weren’t as afraid to concede the spaces that Keira Walsh was in. We all wish her a speedy recovery.However, injuries have ruled a lot of players out of this tournament, and they ruled key players out of last summer’s Euros too, and these problems aren’t going to go away until we have more experts across the industry, and a multi-faceted approach tailored to each individual’s body.Hayes on the World Cup: Japan have impressed but it’s still wide open

Recommended For You