The winter soccer season is often our busiest time here at the clinic due to the number of soccer injuries that we see. Soccer involves physical contact, and lots of quick start-stop movements which can lead to injury. Injury is more likely to occur during competitive matches rather than training. Here are some of the most common soccer related injuries.
Hamstring strains are very common in soccer, particularly in players who have tight hamstrings that don’t get stretched enough. Running at high speeds or over-extending your leg to kick for a ball that is slightly out of reach can cause injury to the hamstring. It is important to do regular hamstring stretches to maintain optimum flexibility in your leg.
Ankle sprains can occur in soccer due to an awkward land or jump that causes the foot to roll under the body, or running on uneven ground. This can overstretch the ligaments and tendons, and in more severe cases can cause tears or full ruptures. If you have had previous ankle sprains without proper post-injury rehabilitation you are more likely to sprain your ankle again, and run the risk of developing chronic ankle instability. This is why it is vital to strengthen your foot and calf muscles, as well as train the stability of your ankle by performing balance and proprioception exercises.
Knee meniscus injury
The meniscus of the knee is the cartilage that sits between your thigh bone and shin bone, providing cushioning and shock absorption for forces that go through the knee. The meniscus can be torn if the foot is planted into the ground and the knee twists in an awkward direction, such as landed from an awkward jump. Knee strengthening and stability exercises should be performed to help prevent this from happening.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be damaged when the knee experiences a sudden change of direction under load and the lower part of the leg continues to move forward relative to the thigh. This can cause the ligament to tear. To prevent this from happening, it is important to strengthen the muscles around your knees and hips, so that they are better able to control and stabilise your knee during sport. Specific soccer drills involves changes of direction and stop-start motions should also be practised.
A calf strain or tear can occur with running at high speeds, quick changes of direction and stop-start movements. It is more likely to occur in those who have tight calf muscles and people who do not warm up properly before playing. Regular calf stretching and strengthening is important to ensure the calf is able to cope with the demands of sport.
Tips for preventing soccer injuries
Good flexibility of your lower limb muscles including your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, is important in preventing injury. You should be stretching your muscles before and after playing.
Before you get out onto the soccer field, it is vital that you warm up first to prepare your body for the game. Spend 10-15mins doing some stretches, a light jog, and soccer specific drills including changes of direction, stop-start movements, and short sprints.
Maintain good strength and endurance:
Strong muscles are better able to cope with the demands placed on them, meaning they are less likely to be injured. You should be performing strengthening exercises for your knees, hips, ankles, and lower back to help prevent injury.
If you play soccer and are experiencing any niggles or pain, please don’t hesitate to contact us! It is better to get it sorted sooner rather than later, to prevent the problem from getting worse and potentially putting you out for more of the soccer season. Give us a call on +61 02 9875 3760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.