As more people play soccer recreationally and competitively, naturally, injuries grow too. Regardless of whether you play for fun or an official team, you can do things to help prevent knee injuries from soccer to keep you in the game.
Did you know soccer (aka football) is the most popular sport in the world? It has over 4 billion fans who follow it regularly and growing. That’s nearly half of the world’s population! Insane. Right?
According to the NCCA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), there are about 55,000 injuries among men and women, for an average of 11,000 injuries per year across approximately 22,000 players. This comes down to an average of 1 injury every 2 players each season.
By the end of this blog post, you’ll know three knee strengthening exercises you can do as soon as you finish reading that’ll help prevent soccer knee injuries.
Let’s explore them together! Read on.
The most common soccer injuries include:
The crown for the most common injury in soccer players goes to ACL tears. It’s responsible for knocking out a season or more off a player’s game time as surgery is almost always needed to repair a torn ligament.
A meniscal tear can often happen simultaneously as an ACL tear, but only if the meniscus is torn. It doesn’t always require surgery and can heal with the support of physical therapy.
If you play soccer competitively, you know how it can put strains on your legs, and especially your knees.
Why is soccer so potentially damaging to your knees? In short, fast pivoting, sudden changes of direction, stopping and decelerating, and landing incorrectly, can put significant stress on your knees.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, ACL tears in soccer players have been reported to vary from 0.06 to 10 injuries per 1000 game hours.
Professional players take the cake with the highest rates of injuries reported. Recovery can take up to a minimum of 4 months, even with accelerated rehabilitation in professional players. It can usually last 6 to 8 months for a strong recovery.
Any interruption with how the kneecap communicates with the thigh bone can lead to knee pain and injury when you run, jump, or kick.
The most drastic type of disruption is called patellar dislocation. This is when your kneecap goes completely out of the usual position and can be found outside the thigh bone.
At times the kneecap can be repositioned on the field with specific relocation movements whereas other cases require an emergency room and special medication to relax the knee (and patient).
We encourage you to practice and perform agility and running exercises while changing direction to help prevent knee injuries.
Here’s what you can do.
Learning to pivot, jump, and land with bent knees for a three-step knee flexed instead of a one-step stop with your knees extended has been shown to prevent knee injuries.
Research shows that cold muscles are more injury-prone. Soccer players with poor muscle flexibility experience more soreness, tenderness, and pain after an intense game.
Unlike sports such as gymnastics or swimming, soccer doesn’t help develop natural flexibility.
Consequently, stretching your:
Stretch to warm-up before practice, games, and cool-downs after playing are vital in reducing the risk of strains and sprains.
Next, we’ll cover three exercises you can do from home or wherever you are to help strengthen your knees, which helps reduce knee injuries.
Squat jumps help strengthen your knees by absorbing the pressure when landing on your two feet.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Start by doing a regular squat, engage your core, and jump up.
Step 3: When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Make sure you land with your entire foot on the ground.
Step 4: Do two to three sets of 10 reps.
Like squat jumps, the only difference is that you’ll be landing on one foot vs two, which helps your legs absorb more pressure.
When you train your body to land and move in different positions, your body will be more prepared when you’re on the field.
Step 1: Stand on one leg, squat down, and jump straight up as high as you can.
Step 2: As you jump upwards, use your arms to propel yourself up.
Step 3: Land on the same foot as lightly as you can, and as you land, dip back into a squat position and then jump again.
Step 4: Do two to three sets of 10 reps. Then switch legs.
This exercise will help strengthen your muscles and help your knees adjust when moving side to side.
Step 1: Start standing tall, feet hip-width distance apart.
Step 2: Take a wide step out to the left. Bend your left knee as you push your hips back.
Step 3: Push off with your left leg to return to standing.
Step 4: Perform 10 to 12 lunges on the left side before switching to the right and repeat.
Now you know some of the most common knee injuries that can occur while playing soccer, what causes them, and how to help prevent them. You can avoid intense injuries from happening if you’re careful, aware, and consistently train.
If you’d like personal 1:1 care or want to learn more, please contact us at (410) 946-1672, or click here. We’ll get you in touch with one of our dedicated professionals. At True Sports Physical Therapy, your health is always front of mind! It’s our mission to help you get off the sidelines and back on your feet in the fastest and safest way possible.