Spring is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing… soccer season starts soon! To help prepare for the upcoming season, we wanted to highlight a few injuries soccer players might be at risk for, and then go over some exercises they can do to prevent those, and other common soccer injuries. It’s important that athletes recognize what specific injuries they’re at risk for, and how to prevent those injuries so they can stay on the field and out of the doctor’s office.
Soccer players require a wide variety of muscles to help them cut, pivot, accelerate, decelerate, change direction, jump, and land. The glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core need to be strong for the athlete to sustain and improve their overall speed, strength, endurance, power, balance, and reactive ability. If these muscles aren’t properly trained and used, the athlete is at a higher risk for injury.
Common soccer injuries:
Knee: Torn ACL
Injury Prevention Specialist Jen Morse explains, “research suggests an athlete is at risk for a tear when the hamstring group is too weak in relation to the quadriceps muscle group. In order to decrease this risk, it’s important that athletes increase strength in both of these muscle groups, as well as correct asymmetries between the left and right side. Most athletes are also unaware of how to hinge at the hips. A hip hinge movement pattern is essential to taking off, landing from a jump, and changing direction. An improper hip hinge results in a loss of power and possibly increases the risk for injury.”
These sprains often occur from frequent lateral cutting/pivoting movements, improper landing technique, or slide-tackles to the ankle.
Clashing head to head with another player, heading the ball with poor form, or banging the head against the ground can all result in head injury.
Lower leg extremities: Fractures
Although fractures in general may be somewhat rare for soccer players, lower leg fractures (specifically the tibia and fibula) are the most common.
Shin: Shin splints
Constant pounding on the ground in cleats on hard surfaces (especially turf) can result in shin splints.
Exercises to help prevent injury:
Dynamic warm-up 1 – carioca
Dynamic warm-up 2 – open the gate, close the gate
Dynamic warm-up 3 – lateral hops
Knee – assisted single leg squats
Hip – Russian hamstrings
Hip – physioball leg curls
Glutes/quad – step downs
Core – front plank
Balance – single leg uneven surface
Athletes, don’t forget to wear proper equipment! Make sure your cleats and shinguards fit in order to reduce the risk of injury. Although mouth guards may not always be required, they are always highly recommended.