Soccer injuries cover a wide array of complaints and can involve every part of the body. From concussions (head trauma) to plantar fasciitis (foot pain at the bottom of the heel), soccer players are prone to them all. Some of the most common soccer injuries are:
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears
Knee pain, swelling and tenderness on the inner side of the knee are the usual symptoms of this common soccer injury. It can be caused by an awkward landing after a jump, by stopping too suddenly from a sprint, by an abrupt change in direction or as a result of a fall. There may also be difficulty walking or straightening the knee. The athlete needs to stop all activity when this happens and apply ice to the knee. Splinting the knee in a brace and elevating it will also help. ACL tears almost always require surgery followed by an intense course of physiotherapy rehabilitation to restore function, range of motion and strength. The athlete may have to wear a brace to stabilise the knee in the initial stages following surgery.
This can occur from a sudden blow to the head during a fall or during play. Concussions may be mild or severe and symptoms may range from confusion to loss of consciousness. In every instance, medical attention should be sought as even mild concussions can have serious consequences later on. Any dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, excessive sleepiness, loss of appetite, nausea or pins and needles and numbness experienced within a few days of a fall or collision may be the result of a concussion and need to be examined immediately by a health professional.
Hamstring pull or tear
This is a common soccer injury and can range from minor strains to serious rupture of the hamstring muscle. It is characterised by a sudden, sharp pain at the back of the thigh that may disrupt your movement. Straightening the leg all the way will also be difficult. This type of soccer injury can be avoided by warming up properly before play and by keeping the leg muscles strong and flexible. If you do suffer a hamstring injury, you need to rest the leg and apply the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) until the swelling and bruising subside. A physiotherapist can help you stretch and strengthen your muscles to improve performance and prevent injury.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
This term refers to pain under and around the kneecap and is also called Runner’s Knee. Because the patella can move in different directions, inadequate muscle strength, overuse or poor biomechanical posture and function can affect the alignment of the patella and cause knee pain. A player suffering from this type of pain needs to rest from soccer and do some type of low-impact sport such as swimming or cycling while undergoing a physiotherapy prescribed rehabilitation programme to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and help prevent re-injury. Strapping of the knee and orthotics worn in the shoes may sometimes also be needed to correct alignment of the patella.
This is a type of soccer injury that manifests itself in generalised pain along the inside of the shin bone. Shin pain can be caused by trauma, repeated stress on the leg as a result of over-training, excessive running on hard surfaces or poor biomechanical posture and function. Beginners are prone to this type of soccer injury as their muscles, bones and joints are not yet accustomed to the effects of this high-impact sport. Proper warm-up and cool-down are important in preventing this type of injury, as well as stretching and strengthening of the calf muscles. Also, if you overpronate, you may be advised by your physiotherapist to wear orthotics in your shoes to correct your alignment and put less stress on the shin. Resting from soccer while you recover from this injury and getting yourself under the care of a capable physiotherapist are the best steps you can take.
For these and other types of soccer injuries, please come in and see us, or give us a call.