Women 'play soccer through injury'
Women footballers ignore injuries in an effort to prove they are tough enough to play the game, research has suggested.
The claims that sportswomen push through high pain thresholds follow a study with England's women's football team and puts their robustness down to psychological and sociological factors that affect the way they experience pain, injury and risk.
Scientists at the University of the West of England in Bristol believe women have an ethos of "toughing it out".
Sociologist John Bird, who headed the research team, said: "I looked at the factors that affect the way girl and women footballers understand, discuss and manage their pain and injury and how far they disclose pain and injury to support staff.
"I found that girl and women players often minimise pain and injury when they talk about injuries they have had. They believe they have to ignore injuries, for example, to keep their place on the team or to support the team. They come to see pain and injury as an 'occupational hazard'."
Mr Bird carried out 41 interviews with players and support staff from the England women's team, an FA Centre of Excellence, an FE college team and a Football Academy team. Players ranged in age from under 10s to adult players. He said he found women would want to play despite injury or would lie about having treatments so they could say they were fit.
"I discovered a complicated set of reasons why players continue to play even when they are injured or in pain," he said. "They believe they have to be a risk takers, they want to keep their place on the team and don't want to let others down."
The research also found women tend to be negative about players who do give in to injury.
"In the elite system, between the ages of 8 and 9, when they start, and 14-15, the girls are socialised into an understanding of pain and injury, learn to normalise pain and become tough risk takers," he said.
"Whilst these factors may equally apply to boys' and men's football, the women's game has fewer rewards, poorer facilities and because the game is associated with masculinity, women often feel they have to prove themselves by, for example, being more tolerant of pain than the men. I discovered that there is a lot of pain and injury that does not get reported, and is accepted by the players."