Soccer is one of the most popular sports among youth and adults alike. This fast paced, highly athletic sport requires dedication and intense training from its participants. Soccer is a sport in which players run and change direction frequently which can lead to stress on the body. Whether you play for an organized team or enjoy playing recreationally there is always a risk of injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, doctors treat more than 477,500 soccer related injuries each year.
Preventing Soccer Injuries
Here are some tips for how to avoid injury while playing soccer:
Shin guards protect the lower leg which the most common place for soccer injuries to occur. Shin guards should be worn at every practice and game.
Always warm up all the major muscle groups before playing. Muscles are more susceptible to injury when they are cold. Stretching should be done with warm muscles after or independent of activity, as stretching cold muscles also can cause unhealthy strain.
Protect your knees
Proper technique when jumping and changing directions can mean the difference between injury and a safe season. Maintain proper body alignment by keeping knees in line vertically with toes, and the distance from one foot to another should be the same as the distance between knees.
Building up leg muscles, especially hamstrings for females, and general strength is vital for preventing injury. Conditioning programs should focus on strengthening the core and legs.
Don’t play through the pain
Pain is the body’s way of warning that something is wrong, if you are in pain you should allow your body time to heal. Overuse and playing while in pain can lead to a potentially permanent injury.
Common Soccer Injuries and Conditions
Achilles Tendon Rupture
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and its cord-like structure connects the lower leg muscles to the heel bone. This tendon is vital for walking and moving the foot. When the tendon experiences repeated or excessive force, the result can be a tear, or rupture, in the Achilles tendon.Learn More
Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
Whether from overuse, weakening of the bones from osteoporosis or traumatic injury, the bones in the foot and ankle can be subject to breaking. These can be full breaks or simply small stress fractures, causing pain and difficulty with activity.Learn More
The ankle joint is held in place by ligaments which stabilize it. When these ligaments are stretched beyond what they can bear from a sudden twist, turn or rolling of the ankle, the result is a sprain. Depending on the severity, this could even include the ligament being torn.Learn More
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome primarily affects individuals who tend to overuse their knees such as runners, cyclists, skiers and others whose activities involve running and jumping. It encompasses a group of conditions that impact the area surrounding the kneecap. This results in damage, strain or inflammation of the structures, which leads to pain.Learn More
Knee Ligament Injury (ACL, PCL, MCL)
The majority of stabilization in the knee comes from the ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are made up of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which cross to form an “x” shape inside the knee. The collateral ligaments provide additional stability on the inside of the knee through the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and outside the knee through the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The LCL is not addressed in the following information, as it is seldom injured. Ligament injuries can come from sports-related movements such as pivoting, jumping, stopping quickly, or a direct impact to the knee. These injuries can happen to people of many ages and activity levels, and is by no means limited to athletes.Learn More