By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
There are a range of potential injuries soccer players can experience, but many happen because of the nature of the sport. Soccer is considered a contact sport and a large amount of injuries happen because of collisions, which are usually with another player.
Here are some common injuries players may experience.
An ankle sprain describes the stretching or tearing of the ankle’s ligaments. These are the tough “bands” of tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. There are two types of ankle sprains: an eversion and inversion sprain. An eversion sprain is when the ankle rolls outward and an inversion sprain is when the foot twists upward, but the ankle rolls inward.
Sprains can happen from landing from a jump after heading a ball or when involved in a slide tackle. They can simply happen from tripping on the field.
To treat a sprain, it’s important to remember rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Physical therapy is also another avenue athletes can take to get advice on how to treat and rehab the injury.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. There are three levels of strain: grade one, grade two, and grade three. Grade one is mild and can heal quickly on its own. Grade two is a partial tear and takes time to heal. Grade three is a complete tear and takes months to heal.
Common symptoms of a muscle strain can include sudden, sharp pain, bruising, and swelling. Pushing through these injuries can be harmful, so it’s always best to take a short period of rest. If the pain, swelling, or bruising doesn’t go away, then it may be time to see a physiotherapist.
Knee Ligament Injuries
There are many ligaments in the knee that can be injured and the mechanism of injury to each ligament is different. Some of the ligaments in the knee include the ACL, MCL, LCL, and the PCL.
The ACL is most commonly injured by a sudden twisting motion with a planted foot. MCL, PCL, and LCL injuries usually happen because of a direct blow to the outside, back, or inside of the knee.
Treatment varies depending on how severe the injury is. Physical therapy is the first line of treatment, but if it’s severe enough, surgery may be needed.
This is another common knee injury, but it happens to the cartilage resting between your thigh and shin bone. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber, allowing your thigh and shin bone to glide against each other without causing joint damage. The typical causes of meniscus tears are traumatic injury to the knee and a degenerative tear.
A traumatic injury to the knee may involve quickly twisting and turning on a bent knee joint, and a degenerative tear happens as people age and the cartilage in their joints weakens. Physical therapy is a great way to get advice on how to treat and rehab the injury.
A lot of soccer injuries are from overuse, overtraining, poor conditioning, or not properly warming up. Here are some ways athletes can reduce the risk of injury:
- Warm up for at least 30 minutes before the game or practice.
- Check the playing field for things like holes, puddles, rocks, or trash that could cause an injury.
- Avoid playing during harsh weather conditions or after it rains when the field could be slippery and muddy.
- Make sure to give athletes time after an injury. Even if it’s a minor injury, rushing back to game play may increase the risk of re-injury.
- Practice healthy habits like eating well and getting the proper amount of rest.
- Make sure athletes are wearing the proper equipment like shin guards and footwear.
If you suspect an injury, book an appointment with one of the experienced clinicians at the Sport Manitoba Clinic.
Burger, MD, R., & Fine, MD, K. (n.d.). Soccer Injuries. Retrieved from University of Rochester Medical Center: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/orthopaedics/sports-medicine/soccer-injuries.cfm#:~:text=Shin%20splints%20
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. (2023). Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Retrieved from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/injury/anterior-cruciate-ligament-acl-injury#:~:text=An%20anterior%20cruciate%20ligament%20injury,hinge%20joint%20called%20the%20knee.
Johnston, D. (2022, November 28). Prevention & Treatment for Common Soccer Injuries. Retrieved from Active Approach Health & Welness Centre: https://www.activeapproach.ca/soccer-injuries/#:~:text=Most%20studies%20report%20that%20the,thirds%20of%20all%20soccer%20injuries.
Nike. (2022, August 31). The Most Common Soccer Injuries, Explained. Retrieved from Nike: https://www.nike.com/a/common-soccer-injuries
University of Utah. (2022, September 7). Set a Goal to Prevent The 5 Most Common Soccer Injuries. Retrieved from University of Utah Health: https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/2022/09/set-goal-prevent-5-most-common-soccer-injuries
UPMC. (2023). Soccer. Retrieved from UPMC: https://www.upmc.com/services/sports-medicine/for-athletes/soccer