While soccer in the United States is usually considered a fall sport, plenty of action is happening on the pitch during the summer, and it transitions smoothly into the fall season. For example, school teams begin their practices in the summer, the Major League Soccer (MLS) season takes place throughout the entire summer (as well as spring and into fall), and many players use the summer to hone their skills in workouts. And when there’s soccer, there are injuries. Some are serious, others are nagging. Let’s take a look at some of the more common soccer injuries and how to treat them.
Ankle Sprains and Strains
An ankle sprain occurs when a ligament in the ankle is stretched or torn. A strain is when a tendon or muscle tissue is stretched or torn. These types of injuries occur quite often in many sports that involve a high level of running, cutting, and jumping–and soccer certainly qualifies.
How It Can Happen: The action on a soccer field is constant, with some players in perpetual motion. Unless you’re a goalie, you’re likely participating in quite a bit of running, stopping, quick directional changes, backpedaling, sliding, and even jumping. These activities, as well as landing on another player’s foot when coming down from a jump, lead to ankle sprains and strains.
Symptoms: If you’ve sustained an ankle sprain or strain, you’ll likely experience symptoms such as pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling, instability, and/or limited range of motion.
Treatment: For most ankle injuries, the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) alleviates the pain and swelling. Physical therapy can also help you get back on your feet after an ankle injury. At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, for example, we would customize an exercise program to your ankle pain so you can regain strength and restore flexibility.
Did you know that 22% of all soccer injuries are concussions? For a game that primarily involves feet and legs, that’s an astounding number. But considering how often a player uses his or her head to direct a ball during the game, it’s actually not particularly surprising. Studies have shown that a professional soccer player heads the ball approximately 12 times throughout a single game and 800 times in games throughout an entire season. And while a soccer ball is filled with air, it can still have a significant impact.
How It Can Happen: As mentioned above, heading the ball is a blow to the head, and with some of those soccer balls being kicked at high velocities, it’s no wonder concussions are so frequent in soccer. Additionally, when multiple players try to head the same ball, heads often collide, which can lead to severe head injuries. And while concussions are generally caused by a blow to the head, non-head-related blows or hits can also result in a concussion. Something as common as running into another player, falling to the ground, or crashing into a goal post can cause a concussion.
Symptoms: Simply put, concussions are awful and should be taken seriously. There are three grades of concussions that doctors use for a diagnosis.
- Grade 1: Mild, no loss of consciousness, symptoms last less than 15 minutes
- Grade 2: Moderate, no loss of consciousness, symptoms last more than 15 minutes
- Grade 3: Severe, loss of consciousness (even if it only lasts a few seconds)
Concussion symptoms tend to vary by individual, but most people experience at least one of these symptoms:
- Dizziness/balance problems
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Light/noise sensitivity
- Ringing in ears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Behavior/personality change
Treatment: Immediate medical attention should be sought out if you think you’ve sustained a concussion. In most cases, rest (both cognitive and physical) is the best treatment for a concussion. This includes avoiding screens (phones, video games, TVs, computers, etc.) and activities requiring concentration and attention. Resting your body is essential because the physical activity may worsen symptoms and prevent recovery. Most people aren’t aware, but physical therapy and traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptom relief therapy also offers many benefits when recovering from a concussion. At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we can even evaluate you for a concussion right in our facility.
There are many more common soccer injuries to cover… check out Part II of this blog to learn more. And if you experience a soccer injury, physical therapy may be your next step. After seeing your doctor, call us at (214) 225-0291 to set up your initial appointment. We’ll examine your injury and work with you to create the perfect treatment plan.
Now, head over to Part II.