Soccer is a high-impact sport, which means bumps, bruises and other injuries can occur on the playing field. Some injuries happen suddenly during activity. Others result from overusing one part of the body. Whenever pain is resulting from a particular movement or activity, the player should stop. There is never a good reason to try to work through the pain of an injury. Continuing the activity only causes more damage.
Assessing the severity of an injury can be difficult. When in doubt, seek the advice of a doctor. Injuries may cause:
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of strength
For minor soccer injuries, think PRICEMM- Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Motion and Medicine. This will help limit swelling and further tissue damage, maintain range of motion and return the athlete to the playing field as quickly and as safely as possible.
Common Soccer Injuries:
- Contusions (bruises) can be minimized by wearing appropriate protective gear, including shin guards.
- Groin strains are caused by tight adductor muscles. Following a stretching and strengthening program during the pre-season can help athletes avoid serious injury.
Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive use of certain muscles and are common to young athletes at the peak of their growth potential.
- Sprains and strains, particularly ankle sprains, are the most common types of soccer injuries. A sprain is any injury to aligament, which connects bone to bone.
Seek immediate medical attention for any of the following:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and cartilage tears are being seen more frequently among soccer players. Female players are especially at risk, because of weaker quadriceps and hamstring strength, muscle-firing patterns, the shape of their thighbones, estrogen ratios and sometimes poor pre-season conditioning. All athletes should stretch hamstrings and quadriceps and participate in strength-building exercises for these muscles, to help prevent serious injury. ACL injuries most often result from open-field, "plant-and-twist" motions. Adolescents have a high risk reoccurrence and a high potential for premature arthritis. Surgery is often necessary to repair ACL damage.
- Concussions are caused by a blow to the head. Symptoms may include confusion, short term memory problems and loss of consciousness.
- Fractures are breaks or disruptions in a bone. They may occur from one blow (acute) or from repetitive use (stress fracture). The severity ranges from mild hairline cracks to compound fractures breaking through the skin.
- Hip and pelvis injuries canresult from sudden bursts of movement, such as corner kicks. These are actually injuries to growth plates (areas in the bone where bone growth occurs and muscles attach), which remain open until the late teens (after puberty). Avoid injury with proper pre-season and pre-event stretching of the leg and hip muscles.