Soccer injuries happen at all levels of play, from new players to professionals. Here are some tips for preventing and treating three common soccer injuries:
The most common ankle injury is an ankle sprain. It is caused by the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint being stretched until they tear. Running or landing on uneven ground may lead to an ankle sprain. For soccer athletes, it may also happen when a player lands on another player’s foot. Pain, swelling, and difficulty supporting the ankle are signs of an ankle sprain.
One of the best ways to prevent ankle sprains is to strengthen the muscles around the ankle. Standing on one foot at a time can be helpful as can other balance training exercises. Also wearing comfortable shoes and replacing them as they start to wear out will help.
Because there are different grades of ankle sprains, the recovery process and healing time can differ greatly. For a minor sprain, RICE is the best treatment. Rest the ankle, apply ice in 20 minute increments every 2 hours for the first 24 hours, apply compression or an elastic bandage to prevent swelling, and elevate the ankle. After the first 24 to 48 hours, with a minor sprain, you can begin to bear weight on the ankle. While a minor sprain should heal within 2 to 4 weeks, more serious sprains may take 6 weeks or longer to heal.
With a minor sprain, doing range of motion exercises such as writing the letters of the alphabet in the air using your big toe like a pencil or moving the ankle against a resistance band can help the healing process. For more serious sprains, physical therapy or surgery might be required. Wrapping the ankle during physical activity, even after it has healed can help prevent a repeat injury.
Stress Fracture Foot
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bones of the foot. A stress fracture may start out as a barely noticeable pain which increases with time. A sudden increase in activity or an increased use of a specific part of the foot, such as the outside of the foot, may lead to a foot stress fracture.
Like many soccer-related injuries, one of the best ways to prevent a foot stress fracture is to slowly increase your activity. Do not do a new skill repetitively or try to run long distances when you do not normally run. Treatment for a stress fractured foot will be similar to treatment for an ankle sprain. Your doctor may also suggest you use a walking brace or crutches while the foot heals.
Soccer players generally get blisters on their heels and on the soles of their feet. Friction between the player’s feet and shoes often causes them. New shoes, worn-out shoes, and shoes which are either too big or too small can all cause blisters. You can help to prevent blisters on your feet by purchasing cleats which fit and replacing them as they wear out. Some people like to put on their new cleats, soak their feet in warm water, and walk around with the wet cleats to break-in the cleats quicker.
Fortunately, unlike many other injuries, blisters are going to stop you from continuing to play soccer. If you feel a blister starting, treat it right away. Moreskin, bandages, and ointment applied to the affected area can help prevent the blister from getting worse and can help it heal.