Giving the Boot to Soccer Injuries

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and in the United States there has been a great increase in the number of children playing “youth soccer.” Although soccer is perceived as relatively safe, injuries are common.

A recent study in the Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation revealed some information about injuries occurring in the sport. The following information is based on outdoor soccer and is derived primarily from European data:

  • 13.3% of soccer injuries are due to footwear, possibly from wearing studded shoes;
  • Ankle injuries are the most common soccer injury, accounting for 17-22% of total injuries;
  • Groin injuries make up 13% of soccer injuries;
  • It has been estimated that soccer players head the ball up to 5,000 times over 15 years of play, raising concerns about trauma to the brain. X-ray examinations of the neck of ex-soccer players showed increased degeneration of the spine compared to non-players. Headaches suffered from heading the ball may be the result of injury to the cervical (neck) spine or a concussion.

Recognize risk factors and take necessary precautions to avoid injury when you or your children play soccer. Be sure to use the proper safety equipment, such as good footwear, athletic cups and shin/ knee guards. Avoid frequent heading of the ball, and be sure to adhere to proper techniques to reduce the likelihood of injury. Warming up and stretching should help you avoid muscle injuries.

Reference: McHardy A, Pollard H. Injury associated with soccer: A review of epidemiology and etiology. Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation 2001:15(1), pp 34-43.