From major leagues to local peewee teams, soccer is more popular than ever. There’s no doubt this international sport is fun — and an excellent way to get regular aerobic exercise. But, as with many forms of physical activity, it comes with its risks, too.
Soccer players are especially prone to several different types of injuries. Here’s our guide to some of the most common soccer injuries and a few simple tips on how to prevent them.
Common Soccer Injuries
Soccer sprains, strains, tears
Soccer injuries, including sprains, strains, and tears, are the most common among soccer players. Cartilage tears and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the knee are also common risks. Athletes might also sprain or strain their wrist, thigh, calf, or ankle during play, endure a groin pull, or even dislocate a shoulder.
Overuse injuries in soccer
An overuse injury occurs when the same muscle is used in the same manner repeatedly. Some of the more common types of overuse soccer injuries include shin splints (which causes soreness in the calf), patellar tendonitis (which causes knee pain), and Achilles tendonitis (which causes pain in the back of the ankle).
Fractures and stress fractures
Falls and direct blows from player-to-player contact can result in broken bones. Soccer players are also more likely to experience a stress fracture, which develops when overuse weakens the bone.
Concussions in soccer
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can lead to memory loss, irritability, sleepiness, and other serious complications. Players who incur multiple concussions have a higher risk of death, so immediate medical attention and avoidance of contact sports and crucial.
Preventing Common Soccer Injuries
Soccer players may be able to prevent soccer injuries with the following tips:
- Remain in good physical condition to reduce your risk of injury
- Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before play and stretch your muscles afterwards
- Wear shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles, rather than soccer shoes with removable spikes
- Sport a pair of shin guards on the pitch to reduce your chance of injury
- Evaluate the playing surface, goals, and ball to make sure they are in good condition
- Take breaks and mix up the type of sports you or your child play to prevent overuse soccer injuries
- Listen to your body and take a rest or see your doctor if you experience pain during or after playing
To schedule an appointment with a sports medicine expert, call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678) or visit the UPMC Sports Medicine website.