Soccer is growing in popularity in the United States and is already the most watched sport in the world with an estimated global following of 4 billion people. However, soccer, along with football, basketball, and cycling, is one of the sports that injures the most people each year. According to the NCAA, the overall injury rate in NCAA men’s soccer is 7.7 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures. What’s more, that number more than doubles to 16.9 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures during games.
The most common soccer injuries include ankle and foot injuries along with sprained or strained tendons, ligaments, or muscles. Continue below to find a list of common soccer injuries and learn what they are, how to prevent them, and how to treat them if they do occur.
What are the most common soccer injuries?
Soccer involves plenty of running, jumping, pivoting, and sudden stops. This high-impact sport places a lot of strain on certain parts of your body and, therefore, it is essential to know how to prevent injuries to those high-strain areas and how to treat these common soccer injuries if they do occur.
Keep reading to find out how to do both:
Soccer ankle injuries, and sprained ankles in particular are one of the most common injuries in soccer. They are the result of straining one or more of the ligaments around your ankle. The severity of a sprained ankle depends on how many ligaments have been damaged and how greatly they have been injured.
Causes of a sprained ankle:
- Abruptly changing direction or stopping while running, which causes your ankle to twist abnormally
- Clumsily landing while running or jumping
- Tripping or losing your footing while dribbling
- Stepping on uneven ground, especially while running
Symptoms of a sprained ankle:
- Experiencing pain and tenderness in the area
- Swelling around the ankle
- Your ankle feels stiff and is difficult to move
- You cannot place weight on the injured ankle
Preventing and relieving sprained ankle pain:
To prevent an ankle sprain, one of the best things you can do is stretch and strengthen the related muscles. Include ankle stretches in your pre-practice or pre-game warm-up routine. Wear suitable shoes and replace them as soon as the heels or treads wear out. Include exercises that focus on balance and strengthening your leg, foot, hip, and core muscles in your workouts.
If you do happen to sprain an ankle, try icing, elevating, and resting it first. You may also want to use compression bandages to help with the swelling. Over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be taken to manage pain. You could also apply Charlotte’s Web™ Active Sport™ Pain Relief Stick or Muscle and Joint Pain Relief Spray.
Once the pain and swelling have reduced, you may be required to work with a physical therapist to strengthen and stabilize your ankle and regain its range of motion.
Your hamstring muscles allow you to bend your knee and pull your leg back like when you are running or setting up to kick the ball. An injury to one or more of these muscles, either because they have been stretched too far or torn, is referred to as a hamstring strain.
Causes of a strained hamstring:
- Not using proper techniques while running
- Having tight hamstrings because you either didn’t warm up or didn’t warm up enough before a game or practice
- Training too hard and placing too much strain on your hamstrings
Symptoms of a strained hamstring:
- Your hamstring becomes swollen soon after it has been injured
- Bruising or discoloration on the back of your leg in the first few days after incurring the injury
- Feeling a weakness in your hamstring. This weakness can be around for a few weeks.
Preventing and relieving strained hamstring pain:
There are a few things that you can do to prevent a strained hamstring. Warm-up and stretch sufficiently before doing any exercise or games. You should also include hamstring stretches in your cool-down routine after exercising or playing a game. In addition to stretching and warming up, focus on strengthening muscles in your thighs, pelvis, and lower back.
Having regular, deep sports massages often could also help prevent hamstring strains. Use a massage oil is designed to penetrate muscles and help relieve minor aches and pains.
Treatment for a strained hamstring includes icing, resting, and elevating the injured leg. It is recommended that you try to elevate your leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling and increase drainage. In addition, ice packs and compression bandages can be applied to relieve pain and lessen swelling. You may need to take over-the-counter pain medication to manage the pain.
Shin splints show up as pain in your tibia or shin bone. If you put too much strain on your lower legs, your calf muscles could swell. These muscles then press against your shin bone, causing pain and inflammation.
Causes of shin splints:
- Placing too much force on your shin bone or surrounding tissues
- Running for extended periods
- Jumping, suddenly changing direction, and stopping abruptly
Symptoms of shin splints:
- Tenderness, soreness, or pain in the lower front area of your leg
- Slight swelling in your lower leg
- Pain may subside and return with exercise
Preventing and relieving shin splints pain:
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent sustaining shin splints. Avoid placing too much strain on the area through prolonged intense and high-impact activity. Use shock-absorbing insoles and arch supports along with proper shoes. Remember to replace your shoes as regularly as needed, especially when they become worn out. Finally, include exercises that strengthen your legs, ankles, hips, and core into your workout regimen.
You can treat pain related to shin splints by applying ice packs to the affected area for between fifteen and twenty minutes at a time. You can apply ice packs to the affected shin four to eight times a day for a few days. Remember to wrap the ice packs in a towel or cloth to protect your skin.
Your plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs underneath your foot, from your heel bone to your toes. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed.
Causes of plantar fasciitis:
- Having high arches or flat feet
- Walking, standing, or running for long periods. This could be exacerbated by running, standing, or walking on hard surfaces
- Wearing improper footwear while working out
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis:
- Sharp stabbing pain underneath your foot, close to your heel (this pain could be particularly noticeable after you have been sitting for a while or when you wake up in the mornings)
- Pain after standing for a long period or when climbing stairs
- Heel pain that becomes worse after exercise, not during it
Preventing and relieving plantar fasciitis pain:
You can prevent getting plantar fasciitis by wearing appropriate shoes with adequate arch support. You could also consider using specialized orthotics if you have low arches. In addition, replace your training shoes often to ensure that they continue to provide support and cushioning for your feet. You can also do exercises that stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles.
Home care for plantar fasciitis includes resting and placing ice packs on the painful area, along with gentle stretching exercises. Over-the-counter pain medication could help alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.
You may require physical therapy, night splints, or specialized orthotics to relieve symptoms. If your symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend more invasive treatments, including injections, ultrasonic tissue repair, and surgery.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
Soccer knee injuries, specifically ACL injuries, are unfortunately incredibly common in the sport. Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that runs diagonally through the middle of your knee and connects your thigh bone with your shinbone and it can be damaged over time during practices and games.
Causes of a soccer ACL injury:
- Not landing properly after jumping
- Abruptly slowing down, stopping, or changing direction
- Turning while your foot is planted on the ground
- Experiencing a direct impact on your knee
Symptoms of a soccer ACL injury:
- Either hearing or feeling a popping sound or sensation in your knee
- Swelling in your knee, especially within the first twenty-four hours of sustaining the injury
- Being unable to place weight on your knee
- Your knee feels unstable and weak
- Loss of range of motion in your knee
Preventing and relieving ACL injury pain:
To prevent an ACL injury, ensure that you warm up thoroughly before exercising or playing a game. Include exercises that stretch and strengthen your ACL, as well as focusing on strengthening your core muscles. In addition, practice how to change directions, jumping, and landing by using proper techniques.
Much like the other injuries on this list, you can treat an ACL injury by resting, elevating, and icing the affected limb. Cold packs and compression bandages can be used to stabilize your knee and provide some comfort from pain.
In some cases, physical therapy could successfully treat an ACL injury. However, if you want to continue playing a sport that may place a lot of strain on your knees, you may need surgery to ensure you don’t injure the same ACL again.
Soccer is a high-impact sport that requires plenty of running, jumping, abrupt stops, and quick changes in direction. All of this could place a lot of strain on certain parts of your body, especially your feet and knees. However, sustaining a soccer-related injury need not take you out of the game. Just ask Carli Lloyd, two-time women’s soccer Olympic gold medallist, women’s World Cup champion, and CBDMEDIC ambassador.
To learn more about how CBD infused products can get you back to the game you love, read our blog post on “How to Reduce Muscle Aches and Soreness,” take a look at our entire selection of CBDMEDIC products, or contact us directly.