The Europa League has started. However, you may notice player injuries when you enjoy this event as a spectator. Soccer injuries are part of the game. Chances are, if you watch enough of the Europa League, you will see a few injuries. Acute or cumulative soccer injuries can be severe. Acute injuries can be painful and often result from a collision between players or a blow.
Overuse injuries refer to those where repetitive stress on a muscle or joint triggers progressively worsening pain and aches. Preventing injuries is the first step. What are some common soccer injuries in The Europa League?
Knee injuries are one of the most common in soccer. Because soccer involves kicking and a quick stop-and-go technique, the knee is one of the most common injuries.
Sudden movement can cause extreme rotational stress to the knees and the ligaments supporting them. When the stress exceeds a ligament’s limit, it can cause a tear in the knee joint.
These are the four ligaments that stabilize the knee joint:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligaments (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligaments (LCL)
Cruciate Ligament Injury
Although this type of injury doesn’t always cause pain, it can sometimes produce a loud “pop.” Within 24 hours, pain and swelling will occur. Then comes the loss of motion and tenderness at the joint line.
The most common type of knee injury for soccer players is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Ligaments are more susceptible to damage than muscles and tendons because they are less flexible than tendons or muscles.
A meniscus injury is another common injury in soccer. The meniscus is a cartilage piece that cushions the space between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shin bone). Meniscus tears can be painful. They are often caused by twisting, pivoting, or decelerating.
Diagnostics for Knee Injuries
The following scale to diagnose injury to the knee:
- Grade 1 – Mild sprain
- Grade 2 – Partial tear
- Grade 3: Complete tear
15 Other Common Soccer Injuries:
While most soccer injuries are to the lower extremities, other areas can be inflicted just like in any other contact sport. Soccer players can also sustain injuries such as meniscus tears and knee ligament sprains.
Ankle Sprains are caused by stretching or tearing the ligaments around the ankle joint. In soccer, lateral ankle sprains can occur when players kick with their top foot. An ankle sprain called a medial ankle strain (inside the ankle) can be caused by flexing the foot upwards while the toes pointed outwards.
Achilles Tendonitis, a chronic injury, is caused by overuse. It produces pain in the back of the ankle. This injury typically occurs from repetitive movements performed by soccer players.
Achilles Tendon Rupture
A rupture is a partial or complete tear in the Achilles tendon. A rupture happens when soccer players perform fast, explosive movements such as running after the ball or darting away from a teammate.
Concussion refers to a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a sudden impact on the head. Although soccer players are trained to hit the ball with the head, concussions can happen due to a coup countercoup event. This occurs when the brain hits the inside of the skull, causing trauma. Collisions can also cause concussions with other players and the ground.
A groin pull occurs when the muscles in the inner thigh are stretched to their limits. For example, a soccer player may pull their groin when kicking the ball. This may also happen with a change in direction.
Hamstring injuries affect the back muscles of your thigh. They can be minor or severe. Hamstring injuries can result from repetitive running, sprinting, and stopping soccer movements.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
IT Band Syndrome is an overuse. It involves a thick fascia band spanning from the lateral hip to the lateral knee. The TFL (Tensor Fascia Latta) and the Glute Maximus are two muscles that affect this structure.
Inflammation of the tissue running from the heel to your toes is the most common cause of foot pain. The most common cause of plantar fascitis in soccer players is wearing inappropriate footwear that doesn’t provide adequate arch support or playing on hard surfaces. Having too little of an arch or a very high arch can increase the likelihood of developing plantar fascitis.
Pulled Calf Muscle
This injury occurs when one of two muscles in the lower leg (either gastrocnemius or soleus) is pulled from the Achilles. Spontaneous jumping or running is often a reason. Additional pulled calf muscle can come from fatigue (seen with injuries later in the game)
Runner’s knee is also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Runner’s knee is when the cartilage beneath the kneecap is irritated by injury or overuse. This can happen when the cartilage under the knee is damaged or misaligned.
Shin Splints refer to a range of painful symptoms in the lower leg’s front. These often occur after training has been intensified or altered. For example, soccer players can develop shin splints when they wear inappropriate footwear instead of cleats.
Stress fractures are often caused by repeated impacts or overuse on a bone, especially among soccer players. Stress Fractures can lead to severe bruising and/or slight cracking of the bone. They can also go unnoticed and lead to a severe break if not handled properly.
Tendonitis is when a tendon becomes inflamed. Tendonitis is typically an overuse injury but can also develop from traumatic injuries that cause micro-tears in muscle fibers.
Preventing Soccer Injuries:
Many soccer injuries happen to overuse. Too much training (overreaching and overtraining), poor conditioning, lack of proper warmup, poor nutrition, decreased strength, decreased power, and returning too early from previous injuries can all increase the likelihood of injury.
- Warm up for at least 30 minutes before you play. Pay particular attention to your lower body. Make sure to get a warmup that incorporates all three planes of motion (Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse)
- Inspect the playing surface for any hazards that could cause injury.
- Do not play inclement weather or after a heavy rainstorm. The field will be muddy and slippery.
- Allow yourself to heal from an injury, even if it is minor. Re-injury is possible if they are cleared to play without clearing a return-to-play protocol.
You can be an elite player or part of a league. Or you can enjoy the game and recognize any injuries. It would be best if you treat your joints with respect, especially tendonitis and other repetitive-use injuries. Do not rely on painkillers to get you through a flare-up. You can avoid aggravating your injury by sitting out for a few games.
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– Dr. Tyler PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, TPI-2