Soccer Injuries – Their Treatment, Management & Prevention

A soccer player in action

Soccer is a sport that demands balance, agility and speed in large amounts. It is a great sport for people at all ages who want to stay in top condition. However, even though the soccer injury rate is somewhere between 20% and 50% of that of American or Canadian football, injuries can still occur. As with any other sport or recreational activity, the best strategy for countering injuries is to avoid them in the first place. Central to this approach is a regime of off season training and pre game warm ups. 

Warm ups, for example, should include bouts of progressively more intensive cardio and stretching as well as practice in passing, shooting and sprinting. This will ensure that your body’s muscles, ligaments and tendons are fully acclimatized to perform the types of movements that will be required of them once the game is underway. The result will be a lower risk of soccer related injuries during the game. Depending on your level of competition, a properly designed off season training program can include weight training  as well as sprinting and jumping exercises over a period of several weeks.

Common Soccer Injuries

However, if a soccer player gets an injury, it is likely to be one of the following:

The soccer related soft tissue injuries listed above, once incurred, can be treated by an appropriate selection of ankle, knee, calf or wrist braces that will stabilize the injured joint and allow it to heal with less risk of re-injury.The risk of concussion and of oral and dental injuries can be controlled to some extent by using a mouth guard.

Using Adhesive Tape To Treat A Soccer Injury

Soccer is a sport that requires almost continuous running for 2 consecutive 45 minute periods, as well as plenty of stopping, starting and changes in direction. This level of athletic endeavor can leave even the fittest athlete with sore muscles, ligaments and tendons. Over time, it can also lead to tearing or rupturing of these structures and to knee and ankle sprains. Soccer players can use adhesive tape to provide supplemental support to weak and/or injured knees and ankles during a game or training session. By stabilizing their knees or ankle in this way, they reduce the risk of making the injury worse and also give their damaged soft tissues an opportunity to heal.

The advantage of taping over most ankle or knee braces is its low profile and ability to conform to contoured areas like the knee. This in turn allows players to wear the tape inside shoes or under clothing without any significant restriction of movement or loss of range of motion. A soccer player who chooses to tape his or her ankles during games or practice will provide them with extra support without compromising mobility or range of movement.

Choosing The Correct Tape

When choosing the type of adhesive tape to wear, soccer players have a range of alternatives. They can choose a light elastic adhesive tape for minimal support and the least restriction of movement. An example of this tape would be DynaPro StretchLight. This type of tape can also be used over a regular zinc oxide tape for supplemental support. On the other hand if a joint is particularly weak and requires the strongest taping  support available, a rayon based tape like DynaPro Rigid Athletic Tape would be a great choice. 

In between these two extremes, a soccer player can choose a zinc oxide based adhesive tape with a cotton backing. DynaPro Porous Athletic Tape would be an ideal choice. It is breathable, hypoallergenic and 100% latex free for maximum wearing comfort. 

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Elastic Adhesive Tapes

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How An Ankle Brace Can Be Used To Treat Soccer Injuries

For a soccer player, an ankle support can provide support and stability to the ankle during play and help it to withstand the stops, starts and sharp changes in direction required of soccer players. To be suitable for use during play, the brace must be low profile enough to fit inside the player’s soccer cleats without feeling uncomfortable. 

In soccer, ankle sprains can be either related to inversion with plantar flexion (i.e. turning the toes in while pointing them towards the ground) or to eversion with dorsiflexion (i.e. turning the toes out while pointing them upwards). Depending on its design, a good ankle brace worn while playing soccer can provide support to the ankle and help to prevent both these types of movements.

In addition to wearing ankle braces to proactively prevent injuries while playing soccer, players may choose to wear them after experiencing an ankle injury (typically an ankle sprain). Typically, in the aftermath of an ankle sprain or other similar injury, an individual may experience instability or weakness in the joint. Even if there is no instability or weakness, a soccer player may lack confidence in the strength of the ankle and its ability to withstand the demands of the game. An ankle brace can help protect the ankle from re-injury.  It will also help the player to focus on his or her soccer without being distracted by concerns over the possibility of ankle re-injury.

Choosing An Ankle Support

  • As we have mentioned above, a low profile ankle brace will more easily and comfortably  fit inside tight soccer cleats. They are therefore preferable, other things being equal.
  • Some ankle supports come with built in anti microbial protection. This gives them the ability to withstand unpleasant odours (such as perspiration) as well as unsightly stains. These ankle braces will also be preferable for use while playing soccer.

Suggested Ankle Braces

Use Kinesiology Tape To Help Treat A Soccer Injury

Soccer players can suffer from any of several overuse injuries as well as from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  The repetitive stress injuries include ankle and knee sprains, back pain and shin splint pain. Soccer players can benefit from the use of kinesiology tape to treat many of these injuries. For example, ankle and knee strains are a common risk for soccer players due to the large amount of running required and the rapid acceleration and deceleration that is also involved. These strains can be treated by the proper application of kinesiology tape. In another example, soccer players often suffer from achilles tendinitis due to the force of hitting the ground repeatedly during the extensive running involved. This condition can also be treated via application of kinesiology tape.

Application Instructions

When applying kinesiology tape to a soccer related injury, care should be taken to apply the tape properly. Some of the key factors to remember include:

  1. Apply a test strip of tape to your skin and wait for about 24 hours before starting the actual application. This is a good way to ensure that you will not have an allergic reaction to the tape.
  2. Make sure you identify the target muscle you intend to treat;
  3.  Clean and dry thoroughly the area to which you intend to apply the kinesiology tape.
  4. Remove excess body hair from the area;
  5. Apply the tape about an hour before you begin any athletic activity.
  6. In applying the tape, follow the directions you have received from your physiotherapist or other healthcare advisor. Typically, for maximum benefit, kinesiology tape should be applied in a particular way in relation to the muscle you are treating.

Kinesiology tape is meant to remain in place for periods of 3-4 days or more and can be worn even during soccer play. You will then have the therapeutic benefit of the tape when you need it the most.

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How Calf, Thigh & Shin Supports Can Help Treat Soccer Related Injuries

Soccer players spend extended periods running almost continuously and are frequently required to accelerate sharply or to change direction or stop abruptly. This can lead to shin splint injuries that are the result of stress on your shin bone and on the tissues that connect the muscles in your shin to the shin bone. Extensive running or a sudden increase in the intensity, frequency or length of workouts can give rise to this problem. It is an overuse injury that is best treated by allowing your body to rest and self repair. Shin supports are a valuable accessory in this healing process and will help you return to the soccer field that much sooner.

The primary type of shin support that you should consider as a soccer player afflicted with these injuries are shin splint supports. The better shin splints will provide compression to your shin and promote blood flow through the area. This blood flow brings fresh oxygen and other nutrients to the injured tissues and accelerates their healing. They also reduce the stress on these tissues to aid the healing process. An example of a shin splint support with both these properties is the Bio Skin Shin Splint.

Other Treatments

There are some other treatments besides wearing shin supports that will help you get back on the soccer field sooner:

  • Ice your shin daily, every 3-4 hours for periods of 20-30 minutes at a time.  You can use a cold compress like the DynaPro Hot & Cold Compress for this purpose.
  • Consider purchasing insoles for your shoes that can mitigate the problem;
  • You can also consider anti inflammatory pain killers, if the pain is really severe. However, beware of the side effects and possible addictive qualities of these medications.

Calf/Thigh/Shin Supports to Consider

Why You Should Use Compression Shorts To Manage Certain Soccer Injuries

Soccer is a fast paced sport requiring players to sprint, twist sharply, accelerate and decelerate with out notice. The results of these many challenges to the body include stressed hip and groin muscles, ligaments and tendons. Over time, the pressure on these structures can produce injuries like groin or hip flexor strains. These are usually overuse injuries brought on over time, but they can sometimes also be acute injuries that appear suddenly as (for example) a result of a tackle or a lunge to intercept a pass.  In either form, the best approach to treat these injuries is to allow the injured tissues to rest and heal themselves naturally. A groin support like compression shorts can be a useful accessory for a soccer player looking to recover from these injuries.

The benefits of compression shorts for soccer players include a reduction in the incidence of delayed onset muscle soreness, quicker recovery from fatigue and joint stabilization. Other benefits are an improvement in the supply of blood and oxygen to the compressed muscles, ligaments and tendons. The shorts stabilize the muscles and ligaments of the hip and groin area and help to prevent re-injury.

Other Advantages

For a soccer player, compression shorts also offer the following advantages:

  • They are low profile enough to be worn under a soccer uniform. Consequently, the player can wear them to soccer games or practice;
  • They do not constrain the mobility of the player or interfere with his or her play in any way;
  • For a male soccer player, compression shorts will hold a protective cup that reduces the risk of damage to the male genitalia. There is no need to wear an athletic support for the purpose;
  • A soccer player with no previous injuries can still benefit from wearing compression shorts. The shorts will reduce excess vibration of muscles and other soft tissues in the hip and groin. This will itself be an important factor in reducing the risk of injury.

Compression Shorts To Consider

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Using Hip/Groin Supports To Treat Soccer Related Injuries

Soccer players are prone to suffer hip and groin injuries due to the fast pace of the sport and the abrupt changes in speed and direction it requires. Two of the primary hip/groin injuries befalling soccer players are hip flexor and groin strains. Treatment of these injuries requires resting the damaged ligaments and muscles to allow them an opportunity to heal. As a result, hip & groin supports for soccer players can play a valuable role in injury recovery. They can stabilize and support the hip and groin structures during the recovery period and reduce the risk of re-injury and delayed recovery.

Besides compression shorts, the most popular hip and groin supports for injuries such as hip flexor sprains and groin strains are groin wraps like the Bio Skin groin wrap. These allow precise targeting of the compressive support to the site of the soccer player’s hip or groin injury. The player can also wear a low profile support during play to provide continuous support to the hip or groin. If the soccer player can wear the hip or groin support during games or practice, the hip/groin will be getting support when it needs it most. This is obviously a positive factor that improves the rate of recovery and reduces the risk of relapse.

Other Treatments

In addition to wearing hip or groin supports, a soccer player can take the following steps:

  • Apply ice or a cold compress to the inside of the thigh (groin strain) or to the hip (hip flexor strain);
  •  If the pain is severe, take anti-inflammatory pain killers. However, care should be taken to avoid taking these medications long term. There is a risk of side effects and possible addiction if they are taken over a prolonged period. Seek advice from your doctor in choosing the amount and frequency of dosages.
  • Once your doctor indicates you are ready, you should commence a series of stretching and strengthening exercises to rehabilitate the injury.

If followed correctly in conjunction with use of a hip or groin support, the above steps should have  your hip or groin injury healed quickly and leave you ready to get back on the soccer field.

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Using Braces To Treat Soccer Related Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are unfortunately an all too common occurrence in soccer, due to the pivoting and quick direction changes that the sport requires.The majority of these knee injuries are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus tears. Although maintaining a high fitness level and learning good jumping and landing technique will contribute to a reduced risk of injury, they will nevertheless happen. The consequences of these injuries can also be quite serious – for example, ACL tears can keep professional players out of action for periods of between 6 and 9 months. Recovery from ACL or meniscus tears requires allowing the injured tissues to rest. There are many knee braces for these soccer injuries that will help by providing support to the injured tissues and allowing them the opportunity to heal with less risk of re-injury. 

You can find some guidance on how to choose a knee brace for meniscus tears here. In addition, you can find some guidance on how a knee brace can help you hear from an ACL injury here.

Once the soccer player is ready to return to the game, he may need to continue using the knee brace for a short period until he or she regains confidence in the knee. In addition to giving him/her confidence, a knee brace can perform a functional role in protecting the knee from potential re-injury until it is once again strong enough to withstand the demands of soccer.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Knee Injuries In Soccer

As the saying goes, “an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure”. The best strategy for countering injuries in soccer (or any other sport) is to reduce the risk of their occurrence in the first place. Here are some tips for doing this:

  • Follow proper warm up and cool down exercise routines;
  • Wear proper soccer cleats, as these are specifically designed to facilitate the sharp cuts and changes in direction that are integral to the sport;
  • Hydrate properly before, during and after play. This will keep your level of concentration/focus high, and reduce the risk of an injury due to a careless move.

Following these tips in your approach to soccer can reduce the risk that you will incur an injury that may lead to a need to wear a knee brace.

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How The Right Brace Can Help Treat A Soccer Related Wrist Injury

A wrist support can be a useful aid to healing  wrist injuries that may be experienced during a soccer game. Wrist injuries are commonly caused by players falling onto an outstretched hand. However, they can also result from contact with another player or a collision with a fixture such as a goal post. If the wrist injury results from a fall that the player attempts to break with his hand, the result can range from a contusion to a ligament injury to a sprain and finally to a wrist fracture at the most serious end of the range. If the soccer player has suffered a contusion or wrist fracture, there is not much that a wrist brace will do to help. However, if he or she has suffered a wrist ligament injury or sprain, a wrist brace can play an important role in recovery.

The purpose of the wrist support would be to stabilize the injured ligaments or other soft tissues and give them a chance to heal fully and properly. Even after healing is complete, it may be useful to continue wearing the wrist brace for a while after the player has resumed playing soccer.

If the soccer player has not previously injured a wrist, a wrist brace can still help to support the joint in the event that he or she attempts to break a fall using the wrist. By doing so, it will reduce the risk of a wrist injury occurring in the first place.

Wrist Fractures

In certain cases, if the soccer player has fractured his or her wrist, compression gloves are a form of wrist support that can also be useful in treating the injury. They will provide compression and support to promote successful healing. However, we should emphasize that a wrist fracture is a serious medical event and you should seek assistance from a qualified medical professional as a matter of urgency. Follow the advice he or she provides and wear compression gloves only if and when he or she recommends this.

Wrist Braces To Consider