3 most common football injuries & how to care for them

Almost 1.5 million people in the UK alone end up in the A&E departments due to sports related injuries. Sports injuries often sideline athletes and sports players. And some of the most sports injuries happen in football.

Football injuries most commonly happen in the lower area of the body - such as the hip, hamstring, groin, knee, ankle or foot. Football injuries occur due to the movements that the athletes are making - running, tackling, jumping, twisting and turning. Football injuries, or sport injuries in general, happen due to the overuse of certain muscles, hurting an area which has previously been injured or colliding with an opponent.

Here are some of the most common football injuries and what can be done to care for the injuries.

1.Hamstring injuries

The hamstring muscles are the most powerful muscles, located at the back of your thigh. When playing football, they are the muscles which produce the most acceleration. The hamstring muscles are the driving force when running. In football you often have to change your pace, going from running at top speed to coming to a complete stop. This happens in a matter of seconds. When playing football, your hamstrings can quickly become overloaded, due to lack of length or strength, which can lead to injuries. When the muscles are overstretched, the muscle fibres can tear, which can lead to a strain.

The key things a football player should do in order to avoid hamstring injuries is to stretch the hamstrings properly before any football practice or game and use a foam roller, which is common practice among sports players. Foam rollers are useful devices which are commonly used by football players to relieve sore and tight muscles and can prevent football injuries.

Hamstring injuries in football can be dealt with by using the PRICE method, which means protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate. This will work to help the football injury by reducing the bleeding and swelling of the injury. After the PRICE method has been applied to help the football injury, there will be a rehabilitation period which will include gentle stretching, muscle strengthening and soft tissue work. Afterward, once the football injury rehabilitation period has passed, the player can slowly return to playing by starting with jumping, running and sprinting.

Football injuries in the hamstring differ in recovery time. For a minor hamstring injury, the football player will be on the bench for 1 to 2 weeks or even 3 to 6 weeks. However, in more severe cases, recovery time can be anywhere from 3 to 4 months and surgery may be required.

2. Groin injuries

The inner thigh muscles are some of the most frequent in football injuries. Groin strain happens in football players when kicking, running, jumping and twisting. A way to prevent this football injury is to stretch the inner thighs and do strengthening exercises regularly.

As with hamstring injuries, the first way to treat groin injuries is applying the PRICE method of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. This will help the football injury by reducing the bleeding and swelling.

What will follow in the treatment of this football injury is a rehabilitation period which should include stretching, muscle strengthening and soft tissue work. Once this football injury rehabilitation passes, the player can slowly return to football, through exercises such as jumping, running and sprinting.

Football injuries in the groin differ in recovery time. For a minor groin injury, the football player will be on the bench for 1 to 2 weeks or even 3 to 6 weeks. However, in more severe cases, recovery time can be anywhere from 3 to 4 months and surgery may be required.

3.Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, most commonly known as ACL, is a crucial stabilising ligament in the knee. In football injuries the ACL is often injured during a tackle or when landing a jump whilst moving. The severity of football injuries of the ACL differs. The injuries can be anything from a sprain, which can be treated with physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises or a tear, which can require surgery.

As with most football injuries, the first thing a football player will be advised to do is to apply the PRICE method, which means protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate. This will work to help the football injury by reducing the bleeding and swelling of the injury. For the first days after such a football injury, a player must allow the body to rest and recover. A physiotherapist will be able to advise on the appropriate type of exercises to help strengthen the muscles and so prevent a similar injury from happening in the future.

When a football player gets an ACL injury the recovery process in this type of football injury is long and intensive. After the PRICE method has been applied, normally a treatment programme will be established by the player’s physiotherapist, in order to ensure the player makes a speedy recovery from the football injury and return to playing. The ideal treatment for ACL football injuries will include flexibility exercises, electrical muscle stimulation and hydrotherapy. What follows are football drills such as jumping and running. If a football player incurs an ACL injury, he may expect to sit on the bench for anything from 6 to 9 months, depending on the gravity of the injury. Sometimes, the recovery time in a football injury such as this may be quicker than expected.

Our 5 tips to prevent football injuries

Here are the most important tips to bear in mind, which can help with preventing football injuries:

  • Warm-up properly before football practice or game in order to prepare your body
  • Stay hydrated and eat the right food to fuel your body
  • Strengthen your lower limbs
  • Cool down after football practices and games
  • Wear the correct equipment

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