A Look At Common Soccer Injuries
Soccer, or, as its known in Europe, futbol, is one of the most loved sports in the world. The number of soccer players in the United States has been steadily increasing, reaching almost 16 million participating athletes in 2017. With the number of players increasing, it should be no surprise that the rate of soccer injury is high – especially as children get older and level of play intensifies.
Most Common Soccer Injuries
Soccer injuries can happen to athletes at any level and at any age. Activities like sprinting, pivoting, kicking and slide tackling can put athletes participating in this sport at risk of injury. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common injuries in soccer.
Ankle sprains are towards the top of the list when it comes to common soccer injuries, which occur when the ligaments in the ankle stretch or tear. Caused by impact or an awkward landing, these injuries can be anywhere from mild to severe, and will often put players on the sidelines until they have properly healed. The symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
- Pain around the joint, typically on the outside of the ankle
- Bruising and swelling
- Limited range of motion in the ankle
- Difficulty or inability putting weight on the affected foot
Depending on the severity of the sprain, recovery could take several days to several weeks.
Also known as a hamstring strain, this type of injury occurs when the muscle is torn near where the tendon attaches to it. With overuse, a soccer player may end up with a pull or strain, both of which are painful but minor injuries. It’s important to treat these conditions quickly, however, as a larger tear or rupture can cause serious damage. Symptoms of a pulled hamstring often include:
- Tightness in the back of the leg
- Difficulty or inability walking
- Pain and swelling
- Pain worsens when bending the knee
- Muscle spasms
These injuries can require a two- to six-week absence from sports. They also have a fairly high recurrence rate, especially in the first few weeks after returning to play.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament in the center of the knee responsible for front-to-back and rotational stability of the knee. This injury can happen in a few different ways, including:
- Movements like pivoting or kicking the ball across the body
- Slide tackles that force the knee to twist
- Planting the foot to change directions
- Landing awkwardly after impact, typically with the knee extended
Many athletes report hearing a popping sound at the moment of injury, followed by sharp pain, heavy swelling, and instability of the joint. Treatment for this injury can include rest, physical therapy, and possible surgery to repair the tear.
Plantar fasciitis is an injury that affects the bottom of your foot, where a band of tissue runs from the heel to the base of the toes. This tissue supports the arch as you stand, and stretches under pressure, sometimes too much. All the running and movement involved in a typical soccer match can cause the tissue to tear over time, resulting in irritation, inflammation, and heel pain. Conditions such as high arches, flat feet, or overly tight calf muscles put athletes at risk to plantar fasciitis.
It’s not uncommon for head injuries to occur during a soccer match. Head-on collisions, for example, come with a great risk of concussions. In fact, after American football, soccer poses the most significant head health risk. Concussions describe a mild form of brain trauma, with clear symptoms usually involving headache, loss of consciousness, dizziness, and often memory loss.
Speaking of collisions, colliding with other players on the field can have very harmful results. While often only resulting in cuts or bruises, collisions with another player can result in painful fractures. Injuries to the upper extremities like the hand, wrist, and arm can happen and usually occur from falling or after player-to-player contact.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soccer Injuries
How To Prevent Common Soccer Injuries
While it is it is not always possible to prevent these types of soccer injuries, you can help avoid them with warm-up activities like:
- Properly warming up before practices and games
- Stretching before and after practices and games
- Cross training to strengthen supporting muscles
- Avoiding overuse or repetitive motions
Can You Play Soccer With An Injury?
Like all sports, being able to still participate with an injury heavily depends on what the injury is. Some of the injuries above are not serious, while others require long absences from the sport and even potential surgery. For instance, since soccer involves a lot of running, any injury to the leg, ankle, knee, or foot may make it difficult or impossible to participate.
Can You Play Soccer With A Cast?
If a soccer player experiences an injury to the upper extremities like the hand, wrist, or arm, such as a fracture, and are required to wear a cast, they may still be able to participate. While the verdict heavily depends on the guidelines of the association, many athletes are still allowed to participate as long as they have an efficient cast guard or cast padding to protect others on the field from the hardness of a cast. Additionally, written authorization from a medical doctor or orthopedic specialist in order to be able to compete in an event.
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