Most Common Soccer Injuries: Everything you need to know from Your Podiatrist

Common Injuries | Related Factors | Treatments 

soccer injury

Do You Call it Football or Soccer?

Soccer or, football, as officially called by Fe ́de ́ration International de Football Association (FIFA).
Considered to be one of the most popular sports that accounts for 240 million amateur players and 200,000 professionals in the world.
Although soccer/football is considered to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable games across countries.
The risk of injuries to players is still unavoidable and the rate of incidence is actually on the increase

 Common Soccer/Football Injuries

Soccer definitely requires a large amount of physical and
mental effort.
It is not too difficult to overuse common soccer moves and
wind up with a serious injury such as a stress fracture, ACL tear, torn meniscus, or ligament strain.
Not surprisingly, the most common soccer injuries are made up of knee and ankle injuries.
Research shows that every elite male soccer player incurs approximately one injury per year that limits game performance.
While female football players have only a few incidences of injury.
Also, soccer players aged 17 to 18 year old appears to have a similar or even higher rate of injuries compared to adults
During the competition season, the most frequent injuries affecting
professional soccer players include:
  1. Trauma – affecting the thigh and calf muscles, knee joint, and ankle and foot region.
  2. Overuse and non-contact injuries such as running and turning.
The most common types of injuries include:
Strains – occur when there is overuse, overexertion and overstretching of soft tissue.
It is usually less severe than a sprain and commonly results in the deformation of tissues when stress is applied.
In soccer players, muscle strains in the thigh and calf muscles are usually common.
Sprains – refers to the injury resulting in severe stretch, stress or tear in soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons or joint capsules.
It usually affects the dominant side of the soccer player.
Mechanism of injury usually involves forced inversion of the ankle during jumping and kicking.
Other injuries results from running, cutting and tackling activities during the game. 
Contusions – an injury that occurs when there is bruising from a direct blow that leads to capillary rupture
Fractures – a form of injury wherein a bone is impacted by a force or pressure that leads to partial or complete breakage.
It usually happens in soccer players when there is a direct force or pressure in an area that is not stabilized and can be easily fractured

Factors related to Soccer injuries

 In high-impact sports, it is unavoidable that the player may have a reoccurrence of his/her injury.
Intrinsic (internal) risk factors that predispose an athlete to re-acquiring injuries may include:
  • the previous history of sprain
  • ankle instability
  • foot type and size
  • reduced strength of lower extremity
  • anatomic mal-alignment
  • laxity of joints. 
Extrinsic (external) factors include the playing environment and shoe type and design.
During the game, performing side steps, jump landings, directional changes and straight running promotes more pronation and medial stress in the ankle and foot region which is a predisposing factor in having an injury.
It is proven in the studies that proper footwear plays a vital role in preventing re-injury in soccer players.
Traditional soccer boots provide traction with the ground which is very important in the performance of each player.
However, recent studies showed that surface traction could also be a risk factor for injury.
Excessive traction promotes forces that can subsequently lead to twisting of joints above the foot.
Whereas, if no traction is present, athletes tend to experience difficulty in maintaining their balance upon turning, twisting or running on wet surfaces.
Studies confirmed that reduction of rotational force could
reduce the rate of injury
because the torque between the footwear and playing surface
combined with
the type of shoes, weight of the player, foot stance and playing environment are connected with each other.
Choosing proper footwear is also important. This can provide better sensory feedback which can increase the playing performance of an athlete.
Improper selection of footwear could compromise an athlete’s game performance and could increase the risk of having an injury

So How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Injury?

Risk factors that could result in injuries to soccer players can be reduced by following modifications, exercises and treatments:
  • Before the game, players must always perform warm-up exercises that would mainly focus on stretching and body conditioning that will improve the overall flexibility of the upper and lower extremities.
  • After the game, cool-down exercises must also be regularly incorporated to reduce the risk of having muscle soreness.
  • Proprioceptive exercises must be performed. This will enable proper joint function in sports activities. Wherein muscle receptors have their own way of stabilising their function.
  • Proper sports equipment especially footwear must be used to prevent injuries.
  • A good playing field should also be considered to prevent slippage and balance-related injuries.
  • Players must be adherent to game rules and regulations

Treatments & Rehabilitation for Common Soccer Injuries

Treatments for soccer injuries will vary depending on the diagnosis and severity of the injury.
Given that the most common types of injuries are muscle strains, sprains, contusions and fractures.
The rehabilitation process would be the most important intervention to get back in sports, following an injury.
Below is the list of management and interventions that could be recommended to speed up the process to maximal recovery:
  • STRETCHING EXERCISES – promotes flexibility in soft tissues which helps in decreasing the risk of possible muscle tear and soreness.
  • STRENGTHENING EXERCISES – increases the muscle power and strength of upper and lower extremities. The stronger the muscle, the greater stability it will provide in withstanding multidirectional force and stresses.
  • PROPRIOCEPTIVE EXERCISES / ANKLE STABILITY EXERCISES – athletes who had a previous history of ankle sprain have a higher risk of recurrence. It is proven that proprioceptive exercises to promote ankle stability plays a vital role in maintaining balance and postural control in each individual because it is interrelated to joint kinaesthesia, position sense, muscle reaction time, and visual and vestibular functions. The more joint stability is established, the less risk of recurrence of injury.  
  • TAPING AND BRACING – evidence showed that utilization of prophylactic ankle taping or bracing is beneficial to individuals who have a history of ankle sprain and instability in terms of reducing risk and prevention of further injuries
  • CUSTOM ORTHOTICS- The best form of keeping an ankle stable in a soccer/football boot is custom orthotics. The orthotic device works for your ankle stability by restricting the overuse and over-pronation of the feet. By stabilising the ankles, the knees will also be guided to reduce the risk of over-use-related knee injuries. Knee injuries include ACL injury, meniscus tearing and patella tracking syndrome.
Unisoles specialise in providing high-performance custom orthotics for athletes. With a carbon fibre shell, you’ll have a lightweight spring in your foot. Working to protect you by stabilising your feet and ankles.
Move around the field with better performance and reduce your risk of over-using muscles and overloading joints.

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