Nothing sidelines a player faster than ignoring pain or injury. Soccer players are among the highest risk for all kinds of injuries, but now there is a myriad of doctors, trainers, and rehabilitation programs to help soccer players recover faster to get back onto the field. Injuries are common, and athletes that return to play after sustaining and injury are especially at risk. If a player is too eager to get back into the game before completely healing, they run the risk of re-injury and being off the pitch for even longer. Playing through a sports injury can also cause more permanent issues.
By continuing to play soccer after sustaining an injury, players neglect their health and their potential for future play and advancement. Although it can be tough to take a break and allow the body to heal, failing to do so often has much worse consequences.
Facts on Soccer Re-Injury
Injured soccer players with too few practices and physiotherapy before they return to competitive play are more likely to re-injure themselves than those that receive more training sessions.
Whether professional, college, or amateur, soccer players have a high risk of injury and being injured leaves players with a greater risk of hurting themselves again during play. A recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that professional soccer players are especially at risk for injury when playing competitively, and matches are associated with a seven-fold greater risk than practices. Likewise, players returning to the field after being out for more than a week due to moderate-to-severe injuries had an 87% higher injury rate during their first match back than for typical matches during the season.
Re-injury poses a huge risk to players that play in matches, especially as the level of play gets more competitive. The things that can help prevent injuries are more practice, better training, and physiotherapy. Researchers noted that each practice session prior to returning to play after an injury was associated with a 7% drop in re-injury risk for players.
One of the most significant injuries that soccer players experience is an ACL tear and reconstruction. In fact, roughly 72% of soccer players that stop playing because of injuries do so because of problems with their knees.
A 2018 soccer re-injury study presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) looked at soccer athletes who underwent ACL reconstruction and determined that less than 20% of soccer players were still playing the sport after 6 years–citing injury as the reason for discontinued play.
In order to reduce the chances of an ACL or other injuries from taking soccer athletes out of the game, they should modify activity levels, take advantage of rehabilitation, and follow return-to-play guidelines. Physiotherapy and increased training prior to returning after an injury is the best ways to prevent re-injury and ensure athletes are able to safely reintegrate into soccer.
Steps You Should Take After Getting Injured
Pay Attention to Pain
Stop playing as soon as you notice pain or an injury. So many players try to “walk it off” and ignore signs that something is wrong with their bodies. Nowadays there are entire teams of doctors, professionals, and physiotherapists that work with soccer teams to ensure players stay in optimal health and avoid career-ending injuries. Good coaches take their players’ health into consideration to ensure they keep good players. When you are injured, pay attention to the pain you feel and whether you feel fit to keep playing.
Get Expert Help
Make an appointment to speak to a soccer physiotherapist, doctor, or trained specialist. It can be hard for a non-expert. to differentiate between a minor injury and something more serious–especially for those that don’t have immediate access to the medical professionals that pro teams keep on the sidelines. Whether your injury is something minor like a sprain or something major like an ACL tear, you will need to be seen by someone who can diagnose your issue and suggest a proper method of treatment.
A sports physiotherapist can help you determine the extent of your injury and how it will impact your future recovery and play. Whether your injury puts you on the sidelines for a few games, or the rest of the season, working to get better and determine the damage should be your first step.
Follow your doctor or physiotherapist’s instructions for recovery and take it easy. Whether you are told to rest, complete physical therapy, to avoid certain actions or movements, or to abstain from playing for weeks or even months, follow the treatment and techniques that your physical therapist provides and don’t deviate from them. The reason that so many players re-injure themselves is the result of returning to play before they are ready and not fully healing.
Rest until you are completely healed and your doctor gives you the go-ahead to return to play–even if you feel fine or think you are ready. Regardless of the big game or tournament looming next week, if you are still in the recovery period, then recovery and your health are the things that you need to prioritize. Pay attention to what your body, your coach, and your physiotherapist are all telling you so you can keep playing.
Undergo physical therapy, training, and conditioning to prevent future injuries. Soccer training and conditioning is a way to make your body stronger, build endurance, and prevent future injuries from occurring. Players undergo strength and endurance conditioning as well as practice to prepare for the season ahead, but the same training is needed before returning to play after an injury and often depends on the severity of the damage.
During the recovery period, athletes regain the ability to move and use the injured part of the body but may still have weakness from abstaining from play for so long. A trainer or coach will be able to help identify a player’s strengths and weaknesses, then provide workouts to boost weak points by utilizing current strengths. Building up the weaker points in your body help reduce the overall risk of re-injury and makes you stronger for the next game.
Stop at the first sign of pain or discomfort. Just as the beginning of the injury-recovery process begins with listening to what your body is telling you, staying injury-free requires that same attention. If you experience and injury and fully heal, you need to remember what caused the injury in the first place and work to keep your body in good condition. Be smart about avoiding re-injuring yourself.
Sometimes injury can’t be avoided, but preventative measures such as properly warming up, stretching, and reducing risky maneuvers can keep you on the field and out of the doctor’s office. If you still feel pain in the injury area or in a connected area, a good trainer can evaluate your condition on a continual basis and give you conditioning exercises targeted to your individual needs. Nobody wants to get hurt but for some reason, many people don’t take the right steps to avoid re-injury. If you are serious about playing soccer and limiting pain, the best way to stay on the field is to fully prepare your body for training sessions, read up on the best way to take care of your body, and listen to professional advice.