Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world and its popularity is only increasing!  The US women’s national team has been dominating the competition for several years now and young kids, both boys and girls are being motivated to be part of the success.  But as with all sports, soccer comes with the risk for injury. Here are 5 of the most common injuries that can happen with soccer and ways to decrease your risk.

Overuse injuries

Overuse injuries are becoming more prevalent as more kids have increased the level of their soccer training and game play. These injuries include shin splints and patellafemoral pain.  Shin splints are associated with pain usually on the outside of your shin bone and is brought on with running and jumping. This is due to small tears in the fibers in the shin. When you experience this pain, it is important to get treated quickly to prevent a stress fracture from developing. A shin splint can be treated in just a couple weeks, but a stress fracture often means 6 weeks without activity.

Patellafemoral pain is the fancy name for pain at the front of the knee. The pain is due to more stress on the tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shin bone than it is prepared for. Common causes are running, jumping and kicking. This is another injury that is important to be treated early so it does not progress. There are typically muscle imbalances that need to be corrected to prevent future pain.

Sprains

The next big category of soccer injuries is sprains. This can occur in any ligament in the body, but often happens in the ankle and knee of soccer players. Ankle sprains are especially concerning in the young athlete, because if not treated properly they can linger and cause long term issues. Knee sprains can range from mild MCL/LCL strains to full ACL tears. The treatment varies with each but all are important to get checked out. Physical therapy can help retrain your muscles around the joint to better support them if the ligaments are stretched out.

Strains

We have covered muscle strains in several articles so be sure to check them out for a full breakdown. Common muscle strains in soccer players include the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf and hip flexors. There are varying degrees of injury with each so it is important to have your injury assessed by a trained professional. Strengthening muscles is a key way to decrease injury risk. If you are new to a sport, schedule a free consultation with a physical therapist to gauge your injury risk.

Concussions

Concussions are another big category of injury in soccer players. These have become more common particularly because testing has improved. Between heading the ball and collisions between players, the head is at risk to various degrees of stress. There is much more research out today showing the impact concussions can have on life so concussions are not to be taken lightly. There are several physical therapists who are trained specially to deal with concussions and its side effects. In the past we were told rest was the only way to recover, but we now know there is a lot that can be done to speed up recovery and minimize the impact a concussion will have on your daily life.

Fractures

Broken bones are not as common as the above injuries in soccer, but they still happen. Unfortunately, there is not as much you can do to prepare for this type of injury. Balance training can help decrease your risk of falls and strengthening will help provide some cushion to any blow you may face, but sometimes bad luck happens. A fracture typically requires a period of immobilization before resuming light activity. It is important during the stage to work with a PT to safely build your strength back up before getting on the field.

Soccer is a great game, but like most sports there is always a risk for injury. If you are just beginning, or resuming a season after a long time off, set up a free consultation with one of our physical therapists to ensure you are at your best.