One of the fastest growing team sports in the United States, for boys and for girls, is soccer. It has long been one of the most popular sports in the world, and now the youth of America are catching up on the love of the game. Just as the popularity of the sport rises, so do the number of injuries associated with playing this fast-paced, demanding sport.
The most common injuries in soccer are located in the lower extremities. These injuries can come in the form of a kick to the leg or an awkward twisting of the knee. They can range from something relatively simple, such as overuse of a muscle, to rupture of a tendon or a broken bone.
Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
The best way to cure a soccer injury is to prevent it. While no one can guarantee an injury-free sporting event, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the likelihood that an injury will interfere with the game’s action. Some of the best steps our budding soccer stars can take to prevent injuries are listed here:
- See your doctor. Before beginning participation in any sport, you should get a physical examination. Be sure to follow any recommendations your doctor gives you.
- Don’t go cheap on the safety equipment. When it comes to the equipment you wear when playing, make certain you’re using cleats and shin guards that fit properly and are made of sturdy materials. Improperly fitting equipment can cause blisters, bruising on the shins and ankle sprains. Sever’s disease (heel pain) can be a game changer for male athletes between 10 and 13 years old if not properly cared for. Orthotics designed for soccer cleats generally resolves the problem.
- Use an awesome warmup routine. When it comes to soccer, just doing the traditional “stretch and hold” techniques usually don’t cut it. For a soccer game, the warmup should include common soccer movements. There are multiple websites devoted to demonstrating various warmup routines targeted toward young players.
- Protect those ACLs. For young female soccer players, knee injuries are more likely, especially a tear to an ACL. Most of these traumatic tears are non-contact injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented with an adequate warmup regimen. During the off-season, jump training programs can give great training in proper landing and direction change strategies.
- Prevent overuse of unprepared joints. Complaints of pain in the hips, knees, or feet and ankles are often associated with overuse. Many of these types of injuries are a result of overtraining. In some cases, an athlete may have a deficiency in mobility or strength in the affected joint.
Persistent pain should be evaluated by a sports physical therapist or sports medicine professional. Prevention can include exercises and stretching regimens to increase the range of motion and mobility in the joints. This is especially effective with hip and ankle mobility. Playing on multiple teams can also lead to overuse injuries.
- Bring on the water. One point that cannot be stressed enough is the need for proper hydration. It is critical to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke or other heat-related injury. Dehydration can result in a performance deficit, something no young soccer player wants. A weekend tournament schedule places your young soccer player at increased risk if he or she is not properly hydrating through the event.
Be sure that your pre-season training gets you in the best shape for the demands of the coming season. This will also go a long way toward seeing you through the entire season injury-free.