The World Cup often encourages youngsters to take up football as a hobby, or inspires adults to return to the sport they once loved. As it’s one of the most popular sports in the world and is full contact, it’s no surprise that footballing accounts for the majority of sports-related injuries seen by physiotherapists.
The most common types of injuries we see as a result of football are traumatic injuries, such as concussion, sprains, bruising or breaks. Because it’s a high impact sport, there are often incidents of collisions and tackles at speed, or players being brought to the ground by force; footballers are therefore prone to injury across their entire body – despite the protection offered by shin pads.
Traumatic injuries often involve damage to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament or the knee cartilage (menisci), and if not treated correctly and in good time, they can often turn into long term problems that limit the player’s future involvement in football. Physiotherapists also see a high number of ankle sprains as the nature of the game and the playing surface lends itself to this type of injury. Footballers are also susceptible to concussions caused by head collisions. These can be serious, even if the player doesn’t lose consciousness. Signs of a concussion include dizziness, headache, nausea, problems with balance, feelings of drowsiness, pins and needles, and problems with vision and concentration.
A second type of footballing problem commonly seen by physiotherapists is heat injuries. These often affect young players at training camps in the summer, when they are spending long periods outside in hot, humid conditions. This can lead to dehydration and cramping, and if untreated can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Finally, footballers who play regularly can also encounter overuse injuries. These tend to affect areas such as the back, and can be caused by overtraining or pushing the body too far. Physiotherapists also see a lot of knee problems, specifically patellar tendinitis, in footballers.
So how can these injuries be prevented?
As with the majority of sports-related injuries, the risk of causing yourself harm can be massively mitigated by warming up and cooling down properly, and keeping hydrated during training or matches. You can improve your performance by adding strength training and stretching into your routine. It’s always a good idea to be careful when playing; keep yourself and others safe by tackling responsibly, and wear protective equipment such as shin pads and mouth guards.
The Physiotherapy Partners are experts in injury prevention and treatment for footballers. If you’re interested in speaking to one of our team about advice tailored to your needs, just get in touch – we’ll be happy to help!
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