Typical Soccer Injuries and the Reason they Occur
By Prof. Angel Spassov, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Considering its popularity, soccer is far ahead than any other sports. There are about 300 million people playing soccer worldwide. Germany alone has 6 million people involved in organized soccer and this number constantly increases, especially after adding of the women's soccer competitions on the highest level - World Cups and Olympic games.
The advantages of soccer over other sports are pretty much obvious. Some of them are the simple rules and equipment, team spirit, excitement, no special requirements for the size of the body. A well-prepared soccer player has an advantage over
other athletes by the versatility of the development of the physical qualities - speed, endurance, agility, strength and flexibility.
why soccer is a wonderful way to shape the body for male and female athletes of
all ages. There are some concerns about a large number of women and girls,
getting involved in the sport of soccer lately, especially for overloading of
their inner organs, because of the high endurance requirement. Research
undoubtedly proves that such statement is ungrounded since endurance is the
physical quality women are the closest to men, which is largely illustrated by
the success of female athletes in events like long distance and marathon.
the same time we need to admit that soccer is a tough sports event. That's why
it is understandable that a number of soccer-specific injuries are,
unfortunately, a part of the player's life. There are players who practice 2-3
times a week and then play 20-30 games a year. And, of course, there are the
professionals who practice every day, sometimes twice a day, and then play about
100 games a year. For all of them that process is not injury-free.
point is that a large number of injuries could be limited if the player is well
prepared for the requirements of the game. In soccer, 95% of the injuries are a
consequence of not enough high-level preparation for practice and games. All
different sports have specific injuries and soccer is no exception to the rule.
Due to the nature of the game it is obvious that the major pressure is on the
Douzer documented thousands of injuries with high-level soccer players in
Germany, and came to a conclusion that 82 percent of all soccer injuries occur in the leg area. It's interesting to note that for less-qualified
players, like juniors and kids, 76 percent of all injuries occur in the leg area. The
difference can be explained with lower skill levels, which makes younger
athletes involve more parts of body than they need to, when they play.
is impossible to figure out just one reason for the soccer injuries, because
sports will always be a challenging adventure with risks for temporary or
chronic health problems.
the moment, sports injuries are about 10% of the total number of injuries in
developed countries. With the right approach to the issue, this can be decreased
with better training methods and preventive activities. It is impossible to
avoid injuries completely. Injuries occur due to a number of objective factors
of the participants in the sport activity
and duration of the sports practice
and intensity of the load
and shape of the athletes
- one of the major reasons for losing concentration and decreasing the reaction
quality of the sports attire and equipment
quality and the type of the field
year about 1.5% of active athletes from all sports suffer injuries on different
levels. Usually 75% of them are light, 20% are medium and 5% are heavy injuries.
The unfortunate cases depend of the level of the risk in each particular sport,
and soccer is one of the top ones, especially for light and medium injuries. The
better the condition and shape of the players, the less number of injuries there
of the major reasons for soccer injuries is the duration of the game - 90
minutes with variable intensity. International sports clinics for sports
traumatology summarized their experience and figured out the most common reasons
for injuries for qualified soccer players being poor warm-up, which sometimes is
unavoidable specially during substitutions, local and global fatigue, poor shape
and incorrect resistance of the opponents.
soccer, each player experiences four to six injuries per year. At the same time
we have to mention that practice injuries are lighter and they need 9-10 days
for treatment, when the game injuries are harder they are taking 12-14 days for
very important to determine when the athlete is completely ready for practice
and competition after an injury treatment. Sometimes the doctors say that the
player is healthy and the coach sends him on the field to play for the team
right after he is declared 100% recovered. From a medical point of view this is
true, if we are talking about a non-athlete, but our experience shows that this
doesn't mean an athlete in the same situation is ready to play soccer.
athlete needs 4 to 6 weeks specific conditioning training to be prepared for the
requirements of performance on the highest level. Special attention has to be
paid to the injured area. For example, after the treatment of a knee injury the
doctor can say the player is ready to go. This is not all about recovery. The
conditioning coach and the physiotherapist need to continue working to recover
the strength level of the muscles around the knee joint. In this way they help
the structure of the joint to endure various pressures. Without the help of the
muscles, the joint has to handle too much force and the injury can reoccur.
common opinion of European doctors is that a player can start working out after
the pain has completely gone. The sense of pain is mostly a result of
micro-injuries, inflammation, irritation or fatigue. Unfortunately, a lot of
soccer players, including professionals, often practice with constant pain and
this is a reason why they may suffer a heavier injury immediately after minor
one. Complete treatment of a muscle strain takes no more than 8 days. If the
treatment is not finished and the player starts practicing, it can lead to
muscle tears that would require a much longer period of time; in some cases 6-8
weeks of treatment.
is where we have to pay attention to pain relievers and painkillers, which are
so common in the sports practice. This is not a treatment and makes the players
participate in soccer activities when they shouldn't. Such an approach is fatal,
especially for the development of young players, because it can lead to chronic
injuries, which would limit their potential.
Chronic injuries are a regrettable
part of the competitive sports. Very often this is a result of inappropriate, or
not long enough, treatment of previous injuries. Sometimes chronic injuries are
results of accumulated micro-injuries. Unfortunately, sports medicine doesn't
rely on enough effective ways of micro-injury treatment.
effective in such cases is physiotherapy, because of the activation of the
defense and regenerative recourses of the organism. After an injury is
completely treated begins the most important stage - the period of recovery.
First of all it is necessary to completely recover the strength of the muscle
and the flexibility of the joints. Only after that, can we expect the soccer
player to elevate his practice and game to the level before the injury. Recovery
of muscle function and joint flexibility is the most important part of sports
medicine. Therefore, the optimal time of treatment has to include medical
treatment, physiotherapy and gradual conditioning improvement of the injured
area to the level of abilities for soccer activity with 100% intensity.
of the examples are taken from training of the national teams of Germany,
Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, Hungary, Greece, Argentina,
Czechoslovakia, Italy and the clubs of Barcelona, Benfica, Inter, CSKA, Milan,
Panionis, River Plate, Dynamo Kiev, Hamburg and Legia - Warsaw and some
materials from experts such as Erich Douser, V.Aaken, K. Gourski, D. Garlinski,
M. Bachvarov, T. Terziiski, N. Aladjov, Z. Herberger, M. Milianich, F.
Valkaredgi, N. Gevrenov, D. Americo and D. Penev, to whom the author is
extremely thankful for their pioneers work in the area of conditioning and