5 Common Soccer Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Soccer is the fastest growing team sport in the United States and the most popular sport in the world. There’s many reasons soccer is such a popular sport—it’s easy to learn, it requires very little equipment, virtually anyone can play and it’s really fun.
While not nearly as dangerous as full contact sports like hockey or football, soccer does carry some injury risk.
The most common soccer injuries are sprains, strains, overuse injuries, bone fractures, and head injuries. Here, we’ll examine these common injuries and include some tips on how to avoid them.
Avoiding General Injury
All physical activity carries some risk. These tips will help you avoid injury. Before playing or practicing soccer, players should:
- Know their physical condition
- Engage in a warm up routine that prepares muscles and ligaments for activity
- Hydrate before, during, and after activity
- Wear appropriate and properly fitting equipment—cleats, shin guards, ankle wraps, etc.
- Examine the field to ensure it’s in good condition
- Ensure the coach is prepared to handle minor medical issues
- Have contact information on hand in case of moderate to severe injury
5 Most Common Injuries
Sprains are one of the most common soccer injuries. These ligament injuries typically occur in the ankle, lower leg, or knee. Because soccer requires pivoting and lateral movements, these injuries can occur during normal activity.
The most common cause of sprains tends to be a poor playing surface. Unevenness, divots, and other field issues can cause irregular movements that can lead to sprains. Improper warm up and lack of necessary strength can also lead to sprains.
How To Avoid Sprains
Field examination, proper warm up, and strength training can help you avoid this common injury. Wrapping ankles, knees, and legs can help safeguard your body from injury in case of awkward movements. Proper fitting cleats ensure your foot and ankle maintain solid alignment and help avoid sprains.
Using ankle braces is a good way to add extra protection to the ankle and foot. Knowing how to wrap an ankle for soccer is also important. A wrap can be used to protect an injured ankle or to avoid injury.
Sports knee braces, wraps, and stabilizers can help protect knee injuries from occurring, can help treat existing minor knee injuries, and can even improve joint function to help avoid future injuries.
The main difference between a sprain and a strain is where the injury occurs. Sprains refer to ligament damage. Strains refer to stretching or tearing of muscles or tendons. After sprains, strains are one of the most common soccer injuries.
These injuries typically take place in the groin, hip, quadriceps, or hamstring. Because soccer requires fast running, quick starts and stops, and rapid change of direction, strains are a common injury.
How to Avoid Strains
Maintaining flexibility and strength are the best ways to avoid strains. Regular exercise, stretching, and a proper warm up routine will help you avoid these often painful injuries.
Aside from good physical conditioning, proper equipment can help you avoid strains. Good cleats with appropriate spikes will help players maintain balance and avoid undue pressure on muscles and tendons. Compression sleeves, wraps, and braces keep joints and muscles in place, helping avoid strains and other injuries.
3. Overuse Injury
Overuse injuries are just what they sound like—injury caused by overuse and fatigue. Soccer requires a lot of running, twisting, turning, and kicking. These repetitive actions can put stress on muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones leading to injury.
Overuse injuries also include injury caused by fatigue. When tired or weak the body isn’t able to protect muscles, ligaments, and tendons as well, putting them at greater risk for injury. Some of the most common overuse soccer injuries include shin splints, patellar tendinitis (knee strain), and Achilles tendinitis (ankle strain).
How to Avoid Overuse Injury
Obviously, the best way to avoid an overuse injury is to not overuse your body. But how do you know when that happens? Matches and training require a lot of movement—the best way to avoid these injuries is to give yourself rest days. Strength training paired with rest days gives you the best chance to avoid these injuries.
If you do start to notice discomfort or mild pain, take a day or two off. Let your body heal. Use of compression sleeves can aid in the healing process by taking stress off the circulatory system.
Wraps and braces can add extra protection during training to alleviate unnecessary stress and keep you body fresh and ready for the rigors of a match.
4. Bone Fractures
Bone fractures are typically caused by contact. The most common bone fracture injuries in soccer happen in the foot, ankle, or lower leg. These injuries often occur when a player attempts to kick the ball but strikes another player or when two players collide.
How to Avoid Bone Fractures
The best way to avoid bone fractures is to wear protective gear. Shin guards with energy absorbing foam protection can help absorb contact and avoid bone fracture.
5. Head Injuries
Head injuries occur in soccer during a player collision or during improper heading of the ball. Head injuries include cuts, contusions, and concussions.
How to Avoid Head Injuries
Proper equipment can help players avoid collisions. Proper cleats can help speeding players make fast stops or changes of direction. Mouth guards can help protect teeth, lips, and the tongue.
Strengthening neck muscles, practicing proper technique for heading the ball, and engaging leg muscles can help players avoid head injury during heading.
Protect and Prevent
Soccer is a fun, rapidly growing sport for athletes of all ages. However, with all activity, there is some risk of injury. Using proper equipment that protects the body is a great way to avoid many of these common soccer injuries.
Maintaining proper physical condition, following a good warm up routine, examining the playing field for dangerous irregularities, and wrapping ankles and knees can help you avoid injury and enjoy the game of soccer for years to come.