Association football or soccer is the world’s most popular sport with over 240 million registered players worldwide and many more recreational players.
Most football injuries affect the lower extremities, which are defined as the groin and pelvis, hip and thigh, knee, calf, foot and ankle. Research shows that most football injuries are caused by trauma, such as a collision with an opponent or landing awkwardly from a jump but can also be due to overuse and develop over a period of time.
The Top 5 football injuries that occur and that we see and treat regularly at Back In Action UK are:
1. Sprained ankle.
- Caused by the ligaments in the ankle being stretched beyond their limits-normally from a twist inwards. Sprains are classified into three grades. Symptoms vary depending on the grade but include varying degrees of pain especially on movement, swelling and bruising and in the most severe cases, the inability to weight bear.
- Treatment should begin immediately following injury using the P.R.I.C.E method: Protection of the injury. Rest up for a few days, apply Ice to help with pain, Elevate the leg and apply Compression to give the ankle stability. Consult your physiotherapist to help with strengthening and balance exercises and guide your return to sport.
2. Hamstring strain.
- During sprinting activities in football the Hamstring muscles can be forcibly stretched beyond their limits and the muscle tissue can be torn. A tear in a muscle is referred to as a strain and, depending on its severity, it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.
- The Hamstring muscles work over both the hip and knee joint and can also become susceptible to injury due to fatigue.
- To help prevent these injuries warm up, prior to matches and training. A good warm up should last at least 20 minutes – starting gently and finishing at full pace activity. Practising sport specific activities helps tune coordination and prepare mentally for football.
- Hernia and groin problems are common in football where the pelvic region is subject to large stresses during kicking, sprinting and turning. Two common conditions that affect footballers are an Inguinal Hernia and Gilmore’s Groin (also known as a Sports Hernia)
- Core Strength and stability exercises given by your physiotherapist can improve muscle function across the trunk and pelvis. This improved muscular strength and stability can help to counteract the large forces that are applied to the lower abdomen and pelvis and in turn this can reduce the risk of developing a hernia.
4. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear.
- The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) lies deep within the knee joint, connecting the thigh bone with the shin bone. Its function is to prevent excessive forward movement of the shin in relation to the thigh and also to prevent excessive rotation at the knee joint. The ACL can be injured in several different ways during football, most notably by landing from a jump onto a bent knee then twisting, or landing on a knee that is over-extended. Direct contact on the knee from opponents can also cause damage to the ACL.
- During the immediate aftermath of an ACL injury use P.R.I.C.E treatment and immediately consult your physiotherapist for an assessment.
5. Knee Cartilage Tear.
- A torn cartilage occurs fairly frequently in football. The term cartilage tear is slightly misleading; since it is the meniscus within the knee that is actually damaged. There are two menisci within each knee joint that are made from tough fibrocartilage – hence the use of the term cartilage for this injury.
- As the knee joint bends, the thigh bone usually rolls, spins and glides on the top surface of the shinbone. However, if there is rotation caused by a twist whilst the joint is bearing weight, the menisci can get jammed and nipped in between the two bones. If the force is sufficient, a tear of the meniscus can occur.
If you’ve been injured playing-book an assessment today at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully you will be back playing asap!