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Common Injuries in the Modern Day Football Game

12 Jul

Ever thought footballers always seem to be in the injury room much more than any other sports professionals? 

Now that Euro 2016 has finished, Portugal have made history and won their first major tournament. Although it may not have been the prettiest of finals, one of the unfortunate highlights from the match was Cristiano Ronaldo’s alleged ACL injury within the first 20 minutes of the game, which could prevent him playing for the next few months. What can we learn from this?

Despite football or (as it is also known around the world) soccer being an injury high sport, it is the most popular sport in the world and has been for many years now. According to FIFA there are over 265 million registered players across the globe, to put that in perspective that is 4% of the world’s population, as you can imagine this number would escalate if we were to also include recreational football players.  

According to Physioroom there is a ratio of between 9 – 35 injuries per 1000 minutes played. To put this into perspective let’s look at the rate of injury in one of the most watched leagues in the world, the Premier League.  Over the 2015/2016 season, Sky Sports states that just over half way through the term Manchester City had already incurred 51 injuries - the highest amount this season. 

Many people say football is a lot less physical than contact sports, such as rugby or boxing, and even other team sports like basketball. So why are some professional football players constantly injured? Football injuries tend not to be overly severe, with research showing that most injuries are trauma based, as a result of a collision or an awkward twist or fall which may only rule players out for a few days. 

Some of the most common injuries in football tend to be strained hamstrings, sprained ankles, hernias and damage to the anterior cruciate ligament. But how do these injuries happen and how can they be avoided?

Hamstring Strain

The hamstring is a group of three muscles that run down the back of your thigh, from your hip to just below your knee. These muscles are rarely used whilst standing or walking, but are highly active and important when running or jumping which are key aspects to a footballers’ game. A hamstring injury most often occurs as a result of overstretching the muscle beyond its boundaries. 

The best way to prevent injury to the hamstring is by stretching and warming up correctly prior to football training or a match. Unfortunately for professional football players, once they have suffered a hamstring injury they are more likely to experience reoccurring problems. 

A hamstring strain can take anything from a day to a few months to heal completely, depending on the severity of the strain.  The best way to nurture a hamstring injury is to rest, use an ice compress and elevate the leg.

Ankle Sprains

A sprained ankle can range in severity from mild (over-stretched muscle) to moderate or severe (torn muscle or ligament). In sports like football, such injuries can occur when a large amount of movement is encountered around the ankle from running, kicking a ball or entering a tackle. An ankle injury is generally caused from an awkward landing and a sharp turn in a single direction. In addition, the state of a football pitch can also play a large part in injuries of this kind. 

Preventing an ankle injury can be very difficult, protecting the ankle as best as possible is the key – making sure you have the right ankle protection and correct ankle supporting football boots.

As your ankle sustains your full body weight, even a minor injury can take up to 8 weeks to heal, while a severe injury can have a player ruled out for up to 12 months. Similar to a hamstring strain, it is important to protect the injured area, rest, use an ice compress and elevate the ankle. 

Hernia 

There are numerous types of hernia, however sports hernias are the most common. A sports hernia is where the lower abdominal or groin area suffers a tear or strain on any soft tissue. Footballers tend to suffer from this injury from intense twisting movements. 

Preventing a Hernia is difficult, there is not any supporting equipment involved, so the best way to prevent a hernia is to work on core strength and also core stability exercises.  

If you do suffer from an unfortunate hernia it is important so see a specialist as it not easily diagnosed like some other injuries. Professional footballers tend to return to the sport quite quickly after a hernia injury as there are now a number of specialist consultants across the world with expertise in this area which can speed up the recovery time.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament

This is a term probably heard quite a lot in the sporting world as it accounts for 40% of sporting injuries. But what is the ACL? The ACL is a tough band of tissue which joins your shin bone to your thigh bone. 

Due to the movements required when playing, it is common for footballers to suffer from such an injury as it most commonly occurs from stopping suddenly, landing incorrectly from a jump, a hard tackle or a sharp change in direction.  Depending on the severity of the injury it can be very difficult to play and could have a player side lined should they require reconstructive ACL surgery.  

Following surgery, it can take anything from 6 months to a year to recover, and even after this period the ACL may never be the same and thus movement will continue to be limited. 

As you can see, the movement required and the fielding condition for footballers mean that it is very easy to get a tear or a strain which can cause short-term or life-changing injuries. It is important to always see a consultant or specialist allied health professional following these sporting injuries.

If you are a Healthcare Professional looking for a chance to potentially work with professional athletes, we have great opportunities for you across many specialities, involving treatment for sports related injuries. If you are keen to work in a prestigious private setting with top-of-the-range equipment feel free to contact us on 0203 008 5210 or check out our healthcare jobs on our website for the latest allied health professional opportunities.   
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