Why girls should be Vikings too
Girls can (and should) be heroes too.
Boys are pushed outdoors to climb trees, get muddy and throw things, whilst girls are encouraged to wear dresses and have tea parties indoors. A sweeping incendiary comment if ever there was one, but now I have your attention!
Why should boys get to have all the muddy, outdoors fun?
And why in university level sports do women suffer more serious non-contact injuries than men?
What do these two, seemingly unrelated, things have in common?
And why should parents care?
It has to do with some interesting conclusions that are starting to appear now that researchers have more facts and figures about athletes, both amateur and professional.
What is an ‘non-contact injury’?
Pretty much what it says on the tin. An injury that happens when there is no physical contact with another athlete/obstacle. An example could be when a tennis player suddenly changes direction at high speed and their knee goes POP! Or when a volleyball player lands and suddenly their knee/ankle gives out.
A non-contact injury can also be when someone runs for the bus and twists their ankle, jumps off of a high object and hurt their knee, or throws an object and suddenly their elbow/shoulder hurts. It can even be a twisted ankle/knee/hip when you slip on ice.
What’s this all got to do with kids?
Sports scientists are now starting to discover that kids who engage in sports from a young age and move into professional sports tend to be less susceptible to these kinds of injuries. This makes sense; athletic kids that become athletic grown ups are tough. Obvious, right?
They also see that athletic kids who continue sports for fun/recreationally are also kind of robust/unbreakable adults. Still kind of obvious.
Kids that don’t do sports/physical activities and become adults that don’t do sports/physical activities, well they tend to have all manner of health problems anyway. But we’re not talking about them… yet.
But it’s the kids that don’t do sport and who start to do sport in later life that tend to get hurt quite a bit!
This last category, also tends to be largely made up of girls. Especially girls who join university sports teams.
So why are girls more likely to get hurt?
This is where, to be honest, it gets a bit fuzzy. It’s kind of clear at this point that kids that run, climb, jump and throw become physically durable athletes. But that still leaves us with the question of: Why do more women (as a percentage of participants) get hurt in University level sports than men? Even men who didn’t take part in organised sports as boys?
Current thinking is that the girls are not doing something in their single digit years that the boys are. Something to bear in mind here is that we’re talking in a macroscopic sense, and that yes there are girls who are brought up exactly the same as their brothers. But these girls tend to be the exception rather than the norm (and vice versa with the boys).
So what is it that the boys are getting to do that the girls aren’t (and I bet you’ve figured it out by now already).
The Science Bit
Research has shown that in university sports, female athletes are more susceptible than males to certain shoulder and knee injuries.
In terms of statistics this idea is based off of a correlation rather than a known causation. Let’s use the shoulder because it’s practically the same between boys and girls whereas with the knee we need to account for the difference in hip construction (girls have wider hips than boys).
Using baseball, because there is a lot of data available from that sport, there are shoulder adaptations which take place when a player starts young. This means that experienced adult players’ shoulders are a bit ‘different’ from non-players’.
In males, the difference between pro’s and non-playing Joe Public is apparent but not staggering. The difference between women pro-level and non-playing Jane Public is colossal!
The comparison between women’s amateur university and pro-level shows a lack of this adaption too. Many of the university players only picked up the sport latterly in their teens.
The assumption then is that the women are missing something in their early physical development that males are getting because a greater percentage of men show a level of this shoulder adaptation than women. This later fact being universal regardless of sports.
In short the assumption is, if young girls (under 11 years) are encouraged to run, throw, jump and climb as much as boys there’s a good chance this statistic would become a thing of the past.
There’s a reason for the saying: “Throws like a girl.”
This is because most girls lack the shoulder adaptation from a young age that creates a ‘throwers shoulder’. Most boys are encouraged to run, climb and throw so have this adaptation (to some degree at least).
The Knowledge Bomb
Girls should be encouraged to run, climb and throw so that they are less susceptible to injuries as they grow up. In fact forget this being about just girls, ALL children and their adults should be encouraged to run, climb, jump and throw.
It’s never too late to start moving well and develop a degree of strength. We’re not talking Hulk level here, but enough strength to prevent hurting our knee or back because we tripped over.
Why Girls should be Vikings too!
Little Vikings isn’t just fun, games and pretending to fight Dragons. All of the games in the class are selected to help prepare children to become both injury proof and to create a foundation of movement, coordination, strength and endurance.
Lots of kids’ activities can support both of those goals, especially Judo, Gymnastics and Rugby. But in none of those do you get to steal eggs from a Dragon or build a Yurt!