What injuries are the most common for footballers and how can you prevent them?

by Football XI Editorial | Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

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The World Cup is in full swing and right now, there’s no better time to get outside and have a kick about … but don’t get crocked!

Here, we’ve outlined the most prevalent injuries that can see you out of action for several games and detailed how you can work to reduce the risk for an all-round safer and better on-pitch performance…

Injuries to the groin area

Groin pain and strain is a bad injury to have in most sports, particularly football. If you strain your groin, you’ve basically over-extended your abductor muscles, found in your inner thigh.

If a groin injury happens to you, it’ll make even walking tough. For prevention, completing a decent warm-up is key to avoiding a strained groin. Make sure you stretch your inner and outer thigh muscles daily and see if you can also get regular sports therapy or massage treatments to keep these muscles flexible. A strong core enhances pelvic stability, which will also reduce the chance of groin strains, so do plenty of planks and crunches as part of your basic workout routine. Resistance bands are also very handy for strengthening your inner thigh muscles and preventing groin strain.

Hamstring problems

This muscle type is often discussed in professional football and players can be out of action for a while with hamstring problems. Your hamstring is found at the back of your thigh and runs from the hip to the knee. If you tear your hamstring, you could be out of action for a while, however, if you simply pull your hamstring, you should be fine to continue.

Don’t run the risk of missing vital training sessions — did you know that, reportedly, people who already have back issues are more prone to strained hamstrings? To avoid this injury, loosen your back with exercises such as lumbar rotation stretches (lying on the floor and rolling your knees from side to side). Basic glute stretches will ease muscles around your hips, while yoga will help you stay flexible, which will lower the risk of hamstring strain. Squats, lunges and hamstring kicks are also great preventative exercises, as they work to strengthen the hamstring muscles. But, one of the best is the Nordic ham curl. To do this activity, just kneel on the floor and hook your feet under something sturdy and heavy that can take your weight. Inhale deeply, engage your core and slowly lower yourself to the ground, using your hamstrings to keep your body straight. After reaching the ground, push yourself up and repeat.

Ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries

During a game, balance and coordinating your body is essential to both your performance and safety. Your ACL is key to supporting your knee, however, it’s often damaged by the twisting and turning of the leg. If you hurt your ACL, it’ll be painful and you’ll likely see swelling around the area. But before then, you may hear and feel it pop or snap…

Working out your quads and hamstrings specifically will help buttress your ACL and reduce the chance of injury. According to HSS, Hospital for Special Surgery, you should do plenty of leg stretches like squats and walking lunges. Having good balance — or proprioception — is vital if you want to avoid injuring your ACL too, so practice standing on one leg (30 seconds on each) regularly to boost your stability. These exercises also help prevent injuries to your menisci, which are cartilages that protect the knee joint.

Ankle sprains

In this sport, your feet are your main tool — which makes foot injuries prevalent. According to the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy), approximately 70-85% of these injuries are ‘inversion’ sprains, which means the ankle has been turned inwards — common when tackling and dribbling the ball. To reduce the risk of a sprained ankle, try these exercises three times a week:

  • Calf raises.
  • Ankle circles (both clockwise and anti-clockwise).
  • Shin raises (lifting your toes, rather than your heels, off the ground).

Top tips on pre-match diets and warm-ups

Quick movements and long exercise sessions can cause bad injuries — so what’s the solution? According to a scientific study, taking part in a structured warm-up is effective at stopping players from suffering common football injuries and can reportedly even lower these by approximately 33%.

Prepare for footie with a brief burst of cardio activities. Here’s a top warm-up session to help you prepare your tendons, ligaments and muscles for a good performance:

  • Jog and side-step to boost your core temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Stretch, focusing on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, lower back, calves, Achilles tendon, and hip flexors. Hold your stretch for ten seconds and do this for 15 minutes.
  • Practice shooting, heading, passing, and dribbling with a football for 10 minutes.
  • Mimic football movements without a ball — do high kicks, squats, jumps, and side-foot passes for 10 minutes.

Being mindful of your diet is also vital to enhancing your football abilities. Eat plenty of protein and carbohydrates — including eggs, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, turkey and salmon — to build muscle and deliver energy. Also, lower your alcohol intake — it dehydrates you and leaves your muscles more susceptible to cramping and injury. Supplements like vitamin C, ubiquinol, magnesium, and calcium can also help strengthen your bones and muscles, as well as potentially boost recovery rates.

Stop a common football injury from happening to you with these prevention tips.

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