Here at Kinetic Physiotherapy, we are passionate about preventing injuries before they occur. That is why we have spent time over the past 2 weeks at our local soccer club talking to teams and parents about injury prevention and the importance of a proper warm up. Here is a taste of what we talked about.
Playing soccer is an excellent way to promote an active lifestyle and can have many health benefits. However, soccer is a high-intensity, high-impact sport with frequent changes in speed, movement and direction, which increase risk of injury. Most injuries (60-90%) occur at the ankle, knee and thigh. Between 60 and 90% of all soccer injuries are classified as traumatic and 10-40% are classified as overuse injuries. These injuries can have long-term health impacts such as increasing the risk of early osteoarthritis. Overall, soccer injury poses potential negative outcomes to the player, impacts the healthcare system and may discourage children from playing. Therefore, it is very important to implement preventative strategies to reduce the risk of injury and support the health benefits associated with playing soccer.
A comprehensive, well-designed warm up is a valuable solution to reduce risk of injury. FIFA 11+ is a complete warm-up program developed to reduce injury among male and female soccer players. This comprehensive warm up program includes exercises that focus on strength, body awareness and neuromuscular control during static and dynamic movement. Several promising studies on this program have been completed. One study found consistent adherence to the FIFA 11+ program reduces risk of injury by 1/3 and reduces the risk of severe injuries by as much as 1/2 in soccer players. Another study found in addition to reduced injury risk, adherence to FIFA 11+ results in significant improvement in functional balance. Yet another study concluded that soccer teams who implemented the warm up had an 11.5% lower incidence of injuries during games and 25.3% lower incidence of injuries during practice compared to teams not performing the warm up.
Given this evidence, implementation of a warm up program such as FIFA 11+ can be an effective way to prevent injury in soccer players.
Common Soccer Injuries:
Sprains are stretched or torn ligaments. Ligaments are tissues that attach one bone to another bone at a joint. Ankle ligament and knee ligament sprains are the most common sprains in soccer. Typically ankle sprains occur when the ankle is rolled under, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Knee ligament sprains occur through direct (blow or tackled) or indirect (pivoting or twisting) impact to the knee. Popping or snapping sound may occur at the time of injury. Other symptoms include pain, swelling, inability to weight bear and feeling unstable at the affected joint.
Strains are stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that attach muscle to bone. The most common muscle strains in soccer players are hamstring (muscle at the back of the thigh), groin and quadriceps (muscle at the front of the thigh). Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury but may include pain, swelling and bruising, difficulty walking and moving the hip and/or knee.
Osgood-Schlatter’s disease is an overuse injury characterized by inflammation of the tendon below the kneecap (patellar tendon). It is caused by constant pulling of the patellar tendon where it attaches to the shin bone. This injury is common in growing children and adolescents who are involved in athletics. Symptoms include pain, warmth and swelling around the knee and tenderness below the kneecap.
Achilles tendonitis is repetitive stress injury causing inflammation of the Achilles tendon which attaches the calf muscle to the heel. This injury can be caused by sudden increase in exercise frequency or intensity, tight calf muscle , growth spurt or bone spur.Common symptoms include pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon and heel, swelling, pain with exercise, and thickening of the tendon.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is one of the most common complains of young athletes. The kneecap (patella) is a small bone in the front of your knee. This bone glides up and down a groove at the end of the thighbone when the knee bends. Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs when the patella is not aligned properly and travels more to one side of the groove making it rub against the thighbone. Common symptoms include a dull ache underneath the kneecap when squatting, getting up after sitting for prolonged period and walking down the stairs. A painful creaking or grating sensation may also be felt when bending.
Importance of a Warm Up
Whether you a play soccer or not, a warm up is a necessary component before engaging in any physical activity for the following reasons:
- During exercise, muscles require increased blood flow, which provides energy and oxygen and helps to remove waste products. If an individual goes straight from rest to high intensity exercise, the body has a difficult time coping with the increased blood flow demand. This results in poor oxygen supply and a build up of waste products in the muscles causing them to fatigue faster. A warm up will help to increase muscle temperature so that they can gradually adapt to the demands being placed on the body.
- The heart controls blood flow to the body. During exercise, increased demands are placed on the heart to increase heart rate and blood flow. A warm up helps to gradually increase heart rate so that the heart is not unnecessarily stressed when maximal physical exertion is required.
- Warm ups that include stretching help to increase flexibility of the muscles. Think of your muscle like a rubber band. When the rubber band is warm, it stretches easily. If you freeze the rubber band, it becomes harder to stretch and is more likely snap. Similarly, if your muscles go from being cold to fully stretched, tears in the muscle fibers are more likely to occur. Gradually warming up the muscle will reduce the risk of straining or tearing them.
- The proper warm up can increase the speed at which the brain and nerves communicate. This in turn can improve the your reaction time and speed of movement.
- Warm ups are important for both your physical and mental state. As you warm up, your level of alertness, motivation and concentration increases. This enables you to better focus on the task at hand and to forget about all of the other things that have happened or will happen throughout your day.
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