Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the World, played by men and women, children and adults alike. Whether playing for fun, or playing professionally, there are a variety of injuries that can occur in soccer players. Soccer-related injuries are either acute (occur suddenly) or happen as a result of overuse and repetitive motions.

Playing soccer puts a tremendous amount of stress on the lower extremity, particularly the knee and ankle joints. The most common type of soccer injury is an injury to the ligaments in one of these joints, or to the muscles in the leg. Knee injuries, particularly to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in female soccer players are one of the most discussed and researched topics in sports medicine.

Injuries to the knee, or any joint, can often become complex if other structures like the ligaments, tendons, or articular cartilage are also damaged. Which injuries are most likely to occur often depends on the level of play, for high level players hamstring strains are the most common reason for loss of playing time, while in lower level players ankle sprains are the primary reason. A medical professional should always be consulted to properly diagnose soccer injuries and determine the right course of treatment.

Soccer Injury Prevention and Performance

The best way to avoid soccer related injuries is to be trained in proper technique and mechanics. Additionally, proper training and conditioning so that players are prepared for the demands on the game whether playing recreationally or competitively is crucial to avoiding the occurrence of injury. Players should also be properly outfitted in the necessary protective equipment.

Other ways to avoid injury include:

  • The “athletic position” or “get down” or “hips and knees flexed” are all common terms used to encourage proper positioning to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Lowering the center of gravity is a major factor in decreasing the risk of injury while increasing sports performance.
  • Successful prevention programs combine core strengthening with neuromuscular motor control training. Controlling the position of the knee in landing and cutting is the principal goal of these programs.
  • The basic ingredients of a prevention program may include:
  • Warm-up: slow running including running forward, forward and backward, lateral, zigzags, and figure eights.
  • Stretching: calves, hamstrings, hips, thighs all should be included.
  • Plyometrics: jumping drills to teach and learn body control when landing from jumps and hops.
  • Agilities: shuttle runs of various distances to encourage body control.

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