Injuries have always been a part of football until most people have come to accept them as inevitable. Football leg injuries, however, are particularly debilitating and can often lead to career-ending injuries. Therefore, understanding the different types of these injuries is essential for players to prevent serious injuries.
Most common football injuries occur in the lower extremities, with the ankle and knee being the most vulnerable areas. This is because the lower extremities are constantly under stress from the running, stopping, and changing direction required in football. Football injuries usually result from contact with another player or an uneven playing surface.
When football players collide, their bodies are subjected to tremendous force. This can result in ankle sprains, strains, fractures, and other injuries. So, football players need to wear the proper footwear and protective gear to help reduce the risk of injury.
Playing football comes with inherent risks. However, you can take steps to minimize your risk of injury. The most common football injuries include:
Ankle injuries are the most common type of football injury. These injuries happen when players roll, twist, or unnaturally turn an ankle. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that support the ankle, resulting in pain, swelling, and instability. Depending on the severity, an ankle sprain can take weeks or even months to heal.
It is advisable to see a doctor if you experience any ankle pain, swelling, or instability. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to wear a walking boot, cast, or splint.
Achilles tendon injuries are another common football injury. The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and is responsible for helping you push off and run.
Achilles tendon injuries often happen when the tendon is overstretched or torn. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon injuries can be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.
The knee is one of the most vulnerable joints in the body and is especially susceptible to injury in football. Knee injuries can happen when players collide, twist, or turn their knees awkwardly. This can damage the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage that support the knee joint.
Other common knee injuries in football include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries: This is overstretching or tearing of the ACL, one of the ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. The tear may be partial or complete leading to instability in the joint.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries are caused by stress or pressure outside the knee that damages the MCL, one of the ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. MCL can be strained (overstretched), sprained (partially torn), or completely torn.
- Posterior cruciate ligament(PCL) injuries: Like ACL injuries, PCL tears occur when the posterior cruciate ligament is overstretched or torn. This ligament is located in the back of the knee and helps to stabilize the joint.
- Fractures: These injuries happen when there is a break in the bone. Football fractures usually occur in the lower extremities, such as the ankle, shin, or knee. If the break is severe, it may require surgery to heal properly.
- Patella dislocation: This is an injury to the kneecap (patella) that happens when the kneecap is forced out of its normal position. Patella dislocations usually happen due to a direct blow to the kneecap or from falling awkwardly.
- Meniscus tears: The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the thigh bone and shinbone. A meniscus tear can happen when the knee is twisted or turned awkwardly.
- Tendonitis: This is inflammation or irritation of the tendons, the tissues that connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis can occur in any joint in the body and is most common in the knee, shoulder, and elbow.
- Bursitis: This is a painful condition that occurs when the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the bones, muscles, and tendons near the joints become inflamed. Bursitis can occur in any joint in the body and is most common in the shoulder, elbow, and hip.
It is important to seek medical attention if you think you have injured yourself while playing football. Any medical professional, such as a doctor, physiotherapist, or chiropractor, can diagnose and treat football injuries. The following are six common treatments for football injuries:
- Epat Therapy for football injuries: Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses sound waves to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. It is often used to treat Achilles tendon injuries, patellar tendinitis, and hamstring strains.
- Taping and strapping: This involves using tape or straps to support and stabilize the injured area. It is a rigid form of support that can be used to treat ankle sprains, knee ligament injuries, and patella dislocations.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications: These are over-the-counter medications that can help to reduce pain and inflammation or decrease fever. They have minimal side effects and can be used to treat a wide range of injuries, including tendonitis, bursitis, and muscle strains.
- Physical Therapy: This uses exercise, massage, and other techniques to promote healing and pain relief. Physical therapy can help to improve the range of motion, flexibility, and strength. It is often used to treat knee ligament injuries, shoulder dislocations, and rotator cuff tears.
- Surgery: This is an option when the injury is severe and does not respond to other treatments. Surgery may involve repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligaments, tendons, or bones. It is often used to treat Achilles tendon ruptures, patella dislocations, and meniscus tears.
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation): This is a type of therapy that helps reduce pain and swelling. It involves resting the injured area, applying ice to reduce swelling, using compression to support the injured area, and elevating the injured area to decrease swelling.
Avoiding injuries is the top priority for any football player. The following are some tips to help avoid football injuries:
- Warm up thoroughly before a game: It is important to warm up the muscles and joints before playing. A good warm-up should last for at least 20 minutes and include light aerobic activity, such as jogging, and dynamic stretching, such as leg swings.
- Cool down after a game: It is just as important to cool down after a game. This helps to reduce the risk of muscle soreness and injuries.
- Drink plenty of water: This helps to keep the body hydrated and prevent cramping.
- Wear the right gear: This includes wearing a properly fitting helmet, mouthguard, pads, and cleats.
- Listen to your body: Always pay attention to your body and how it feels. If you are in pain, rest and see a medical professional.
The top three injuries in soccer are ankle sprains, knee injuries, and calf strains. These injuries can sideline a player for weeks or even months, so it is important to take precautions to prevent them.
For a mild strain, it can take up to ten days. However, a more severe injury can take up to six months.
Football players are at a higher risk of developing leg injuries. Many of these injuries, including ACL, can be managed safely and effectively. The long history of football has shown that with proper medical management, many football players can still find career success after sustaining a leg injury.
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