As the most popular sport in the world, soccer has been gradually gaining popularity in the United States over the past decade with new MLS franchises and youth soccer clubs popping up in big cities all over the country. Not only is soccer the most popular international sport, but it is also one of the most physically demanding resulting in high injury rates which can affect things like sports participation, career longevity, mental health, and financial/family burden.
The most common soccer related injuries occur in the lower limbs and consist of muscle/ligament strains, tendonopathies, and contusions. While head injuries do occur, they have a relatively low incident rate, however, are vitally important to address before returning to play. You can learn more about concussions HERE.
There are several non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors that can contribute to increased injury risk. The non-modifiable risk factors are things that we cannot control such as: age, gender, genetics, field conditions/weather, and history of previous injury. But, modifiable risk factors can be addressed by working with a Doctor of Physical Therapy to reduce injury risk and can include:
Meeting with a Physical Therapist for Performance Based Physical Therapy before, during, and after the soccer season can help identify faulty movement patterns, joint restrictions and address the development of early dysfunctions before they cause injury. A Physical Therapist achieves this by analyzing movement patterns to identify inefficient or faulty movements and develop a personalized plan to address the biomechanics and mobility deficits.
Muscle strength weaknesses and imbalances throughout the lower limbs, core, back, and even upper limbs can lead to back/neck injuries, hamstring strains, ankle sprains, and knee ligament disruptions to name a few. Working together with a Physical Therapist can help identify areas of muscle strength deficits and develop an individualized strengthening program to address specific areas of concern.
We know that soccer seasons can be several months long and year round, filled with games, tournaments, and frequent training sessions with little rest periods between seasons. Knowing how to assess your own body and navigate the demands of a long season is crucial to staying healthy and game ready. A skilled Physical Therapist can teach you how to adjust your training programs to minimize burn out and maintain peak performance during the on and off season.
If you want to learn more about injury prevention or currently have an injury that you are trying to work through, schedule a FREE 15 min consultation with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to discuss potential treatment options!