Soccer is becoming more or more popular in the United States. With the sport’s increased popularity comes an increase in injuries. While injuries will happen, here are some tips for preventing and treating three common soccer injuries:
Recently, U.S. Soccer announced plans to ban headers for players 10 and younger and to limit headers to practice only for players 11 to 13. According to several studies in recent years, soccer, specifically girls’ soccer, comes in second to football in the number of reported concussions.
Despite headers being labeled as leading to concussions, most soccer concussions are caused by other things, including knocking into other players, hitting the ground, or hitting the goalpost. Soccer is a physical sport where players have a lot of contact with each other. Because of this, it can be difficult to fully prevent a concussion. Being aware of your surroundings and not taking unnecessary risks can decrease your chances of getting a concussion. Diving headfirst toward a ball which is near the goalpost could be dangerous.
Many soccer players take chances, even when they know it might result in an injury. If you are a soccer player who suffered a concussion or you suspect you may have a concussion, the most important first step is to get out of the game. If there is vomiting, dizziness, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, or other related symptoms, call 911 right away. Otherwise, ice wrapped in a washcloth should be applied to the head, and an acetaminophen, such as Tylenol can be taken. No matter the severity of the concussion, the player should visit a doctor and should not return to playing until cleared by the doctor.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) provides stability to the knee. ACL tears happen most often to female athletes and are most common when an athlete lands flatfooted instead of on the balls of the feet. Twisting and when the feet and knees go different directions can also lead to an ACL tear. The best practices to reduce your chances of suffering an ACL tear are to properly warm-up, practice landing on the balls of your feet when jumping, and do exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee.
While RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and taking anti-inflammatory medication will help with an incomplete ACL tear, surgery is required if there is a complete tear. Physical therapy is a common treatment for an ACL tear. It might be several months before the player is able to play soccer again, and the continued use of a knee brace is common for those coming back from an ACL tear.
Another common soccer injury is shin splints. Symptoms include pain along the front portion of the lower leg as a tightness or inflexibility of the calf muscles. The pain often increases when running, jumping, or performing weight-bearing exercises.
Proper stretching, properly warming up, slowly increasing your workouts, and wearing good shoes can help prevent shin splints. Unfortunately, like many injuries, one of the best treatments for shin splints is taking a break from soccer. If you do not consider taking a few days off as practical, doing strength and stretching exercises, taping your shins, and wearing good shoes can help relieve the pain. If possible, it is also a good idea to at least decrease the intensity of your training.
If you have been injured while playing soccer, contact us. We can help treat an assortment of common soccer injuries.