Updated June 2021
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 prone to several different types of injury. Here’s our guide to some of the most common soccer injuries and a few simple tips on how to prevent them.
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Top Injuries and Conditions to Know
Soccer sprains, strains, tears
Injuries like sprains, strains, and tears are 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.
Core muscle injuries from soccer
A sports hernia, or athletic pubalgia, is an injury to the core muscles that is often caused by planting the feet and twisting quickly, tearing the soft tissue around the groin. All that twisting and zig-zagging on the soccer field is one of the leading causes.
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 in which the brain shakes inside the skull. It can lead to fogginess, irritability, sleepiness, confusion, and other serious complications over time. Concussions can occur in soccer from a direct knock to the head or from a hit to the body with energy transferred to the head, like whiplash.
Lisfranc injuries in soccer
The Lisfranc joint, found in the midfoot, connects the tarsal and metatarsal bones. The joint can be injured both from contact – such as when a player’s foot is stepped on – or noncontact, such as the foot twisting unnaturally. Potential Lisfranc injuries range from sprains to dislocations and fractures, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. They are rare and sometimes confused for more minor foot and ankle injuries, but they often require surgery and months of rehab.
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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 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 play to help prevent overuse injuries.
- Listen to your body and take a rest, or see your doctor if you experience pain during or after playing.
To learn more about UPMC Sports Medicine or schedule an appointment, please call 1-855-937-7678 or visit our website.
About UPMC Orthopaedic Care
As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. As leaders in research and clinical trials with cutting-edge tools and techniques, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics.