Soccer, or football, depending on where you are in the planet, is undoubtedly the world's most popular sport. A 2006 survey by FIFA (the world governing body of soccer), estimated that a mind-blowing four per cent of the world's population are actively involved in football! The benefits of soccer and indeed all other forms of physical exercise are well-documented. It is not all that surprising though, given its vast global appeal and the fact that it is such an intensely physical game, that injuries are a very common occurrence. The severity of any injury will depend on how you treat it and what precautions you take to limit any damage. Here are three of the most common injuries and suggestions on how to treat and, in some cases, prevent them:
- Ankle Sprain This is by far the most common injury in soccer. Sharp twists and turns, sliding challenges and goalmouth scrambles are all contributing factors towards the prevalence of ankle sprain. The problem is often compounded when people decide to self-heal at home with some anti-inflammatories and a cold compress, putting themselves at needless risk for long-term injury, should a further sprain occur. The correct action to take if you suspect an ankle sprain is to book a consultation with your local podiatrist. Leaving it to specialists who know exactly how long you need to rest can make the difference between a couple of weeks out of action and missing your favourite sport for months on end. Your podiatrist will advise you on the best treatment and possibly even offer you a protective ankle brace, which can prevent further damage.
- Knee Ligament Damage Player-to-player contact can result in season-ending injuries to the knee. Whether you play football with your friends for a bit of fun, or at a competitive level, it is important to inform yourself on exactly how this kind of injury happens and actionable steps you can take to prevent it. Ligaments are strings of fibrous, connective tissue that connect bones together. Sudden blunt forces, such as sliding tackles from opponents can stretch and even completely tear the ligaments in your knee. A grade three sprain, where the ligament rips completely, will keep you out of action for three to four months. The best preventive method for this kind of injury is to ensure you have sufficient strength around the hip and thigh area to support the knees. Practicing squats three times per week, and strengthening your core with exercises like the plank, can help avoid knee ligament injury by providing support and improving overall balance. A grade three sprain though is highly likely to require surgery. Podiatry services are invaluable in the post-operative period of severe ligament injuries.
- Concussion Head injuries are a serious topic in sports, and only recently the authorities in U.S Soccer banned children under ten years of age from heading the ball in America. Concussions happen with disturbing regularity in football, mainly due to clashing of heads when challenging for aerial balls and heading the ball too much. The brain is an extremely delicate organ, and you need to take extra care when managing head injuries. From grassroots to competitive level, it is important to always play with synthetic footballs instead of leather ones as they easier on your head. A rain-saturated leather football that has been left outdoors for a few days can be quite dangerous to your cranium. It is important to seek the advice of a doctor any time you suspect a concussion. Quite frequently, players carry on regardless, but with head injuries it is much better to be safe than sorry, even if it means not being able to help your team out. Sitting out the rest of the game is solid advice and can save you from further harm.