Soccer Injuries & Prevention Overview
Soccer is among the most popular sports in the world. As with many sports, injuries are of concern, especially for players, coaches, trainers and parents. Injuries impact a player’s ability to train and compete in the sport, but of equal or greater concern is the affect of injury on the individual’s general health and wellbeing,
Being informed about soccer injuries is perhaps the first step toward prevention. First, injury rates are higher during competitions than during training. This is due to the higher intensity of play during games compared to practice or training situations. Overall injury rates are higher for female players than male players, which may be related to differences in motor control strategies or skill levels between girls and boys. In general, players will lower skill levels are more prone to injury.
The most common mechanisms of injury are tackling, running, being tackled, shooting, pivoting (changing direction), jumping and landing. These movements expose the body to either to excessive forces, or challenge the ability of the player to adapt to rapidly changing conditions on the field.
The most common body regions injured are the knee, ankle, upper leg, groin and hip. The ankle in particular is the most common joint injured among youth players. And the most common types of injury are ligament injuries (sprain), muscle or tendon injury (strains), contusion and fracture.
There are many different approaches to injury prevention. General strength and conditioning programs are most common. Sports specific training programs are also widely available. These may involve an evaluative component, where the player is scored on functional test before beginning the program. This way, the player can address specific impairments of joint range of motion, muscle strength, muscle length and motor control. Control of movements is increasingly recognized as an important aspect of injury prevention.
There is little research to support one prevention approach over another, however there is wide agreement that injury prevention is worth the time invested. After all, players want to be spending their time engaged in their sport, and everyone wants to enjoy good health.
Marcia Miller Spoto, PT, DC, OCS
Reference: Olsen L et al. Strategies for prevention of soccer related injuries: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2004; 38: 89-94.