Soccer can be one of the more competitive and aggressive sports out there (we see you rugby), meaning that the injuries that are sometimes seen can be severe. While some may be worse than others, certain ones are also more common than others. Although ankle sprains, groin pulls, and shin splints aren’t the craziest injuries you’ve ever seen on the field, you’re more likely to encounter them than you think.
A sprained ankle can occur when pressure is applied to the foot incorrectly. This usually occurs as rolling the ankle to the outside while running on uneven surfaces, such as a natural grass field. Ankle sprains can also happen on turf if while running for a ball, you happens to land awkwardly. The excess external pressure pushes on the ankle joint, forcing the ligaments to be pulled more than they’re used to. In some cases, the ligaments can even tear.
Pain, swelling, instability, bruising, and tenderness.
If the ankle sprain doesn’t improve with treatment, surgery may be necessary. The two types of surgery associated with ankle sprains are arthroscopy and reconstruction. According to Healthline an arthroscopy involves the surgeon looking through the ankle to be sure there aren’t any loose fragments of bone or cartilage floating around and removing them if there are. Healthline also notes that reconstruction involves the surgeon actually repairing the ligament with stitches.
Warming up and being sure to roll the ankles around in circular motions before getting on the field really helps with ankle flexibility. The more you focus on making sure your ankle is warmed up, the more you protect yourself from injury. In cases where you’re prone to injury or have experienced an ankle sprain before, wearing a brace or taping up your ankle is the safest bet in preventing an ankle sprain.
A groin pull usually occurs when a sharp or sudden movement is taken, such as high kicks in a warm up, twisting in order to make a play, or sprinting before being warmed up. While they can be incredibly painful, they are very rarely serious. The muscles that are primarily affected are called adductor muscles, and they run along the inside of the thigh.
Pain in the inside of the thigh, bruising, swelling, and decreased strength.
Groin pulls usually resolve with time and rest. To prevent pulls from happening, stretching and warming up are absolutely necessary. When dealing with a confirmed groin pull, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as well as anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, naproxen) are going to be the go-to at-home treatment. If the pull is so bad that these at-home treatments and the doctor’s recommendations and treatments don’t help, surgery may be an option to repair the torn fibers. According to Healthline, pain that feels like a groin pull can sometimes be something else, such as a stress fracture, bursitis (inflammation of the sac of fluid in the hip joint), or a hip fracture. While one of these might be the case, it is very important to be sure to see a doctor instead of attempting to self-diagnose over the internet. As always, it is recommended that you check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.
Always be sure to warm up before doing any kind of soccer exercises, especially shooting practice. Stretching your muscles out after you’re warm can help you avoid groin pulls, while strengthening exercises can help stop the muscle from overstretching too quickly.
Shin splints generally happen when the muscles in the shin are overused. High impact activities along with a change of terrain can cause shin splints, which is why soccer players can be prone to this kind of injury. Whether the exercise program requires ladders on asphalt, running hills with real grass, or distance work on turf, pain in the front lower leg can develop and lead to shin splints.
Pain in the front lower leg, pain that worsens with exercise.
There are certain symptoms to look out for that may necessitate a visit to your doctor’s office. If you have continued pain over the course of several weeks even with at-home treatment, continued swelling, or your shins are red and hot to the touch, it may be time to make a trip to see your primary care physician. Sometimes tendonitis, compartment syndrome, or a stress fracture can look like shin splints, so your doctor may order x-rays in order to rule these out. Compartment syndrome is an emergency and needs immediate attention.
Be sure to understand your limits with exercising. Going all out and trying to train hard and fast right off the bat can actually cause shin splints, so it’s best to ease into a training routine. Additionally, if you are obligated to be running on different surfaces, be sure to have good running shoes and cleats. Old shoes can put additional strain on your shins, so don’t forget to replace them if they begin to feel flat or don’t support you as well as they used to. If you’ve had shin splints before, it’s always a good idea to ice after your workout to decrease any possible swelling.
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