The most common injuries in soccer that cause athletes to miss time are ligament injuries (such as injuries to the knees and ankles) and muscle strains (usually to the hamstrings or groin). The most common injury varies based on the level of play and player we’re talking about—for elite, ultra-competitive leagues, the most common injury is the hamstring strain. However, in lower levels of play where most people are at, be it in high school soccer, youth leagues or community leagues, the ankle sprain is by far the most common injury.
So what can one do to prevent these types of sports injuries in Brampton? There are several steps involved in determining exactly the best way to stay healthy.
Develop an awareness of the injury
First and foremost, anyone who plays soccer should be aware of what the most common injuries are and the likelihood that one could happen to them.
Lower level players should be aware that ankle sprains are the most common injury they are likely to face while playing soccer. In one European study, ankle injuries represented about 20 percent of all injuries suffered by young adult and youth males. Even at the higher levels of play ankle injuries are still extremely common, even if outstripped slightly by hamstring strains. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, about 16 percent of all injuries were ankle injuries. There were approximately 11.6 injuries per 1,000 match hours, or about one ankle injury every two and a half matches.
Understand how injuries happen
Once you know the risk you face of potential ankle injuries, it is also important to know the scenarios in which those injuries are most likely to occur.
You can essentially split ankle injuries into two categories: contact and non-contact injuries. Contact injuries in soccer most frequently occur when a player dribbling with the ball is challenged by a defender with a slide tackle. The lead foot in the slide tackle will typically contact the dribbler’s ankle right around the time the foot makes contact with the ground. The resulting impact causes the sole of the foot to roll, which will hurt the ligaments on the ankle.
Non-contact injuries usually occur when a player is landing from a jump and falls awkwardly on the ankle. This often happens when players go for headers and either land on top of another player or simply do not come down correctly on their foot. Unstable landings will cause the ankle to roll, damaging ligaments in the process.
Prioritize prevention initiatives
There are some training exercises you can use to strengthen your ankle and make ligament injuries less likely. Examples include balance exercises, exercises using medicine balls or soccer balls, exercises using a combination of balance boards and balls and exercises without any equipment at all.
To learn more about how you can help yourself to avoid suffering an ankle injury or other injury while playing soccer, we encourage you to contact a physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries in Brampton.