Injury Prevention in Football

As well as working here at KTB, some of our physios work for some top football teams so you know you are in great hands! Our physio, Hiba, has shared her top tips to prevent injury.

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. Not only does it improve cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, it also improves mental and psychological well-being.

While football can be enjoyed safely by a majority of players, there is a paradoxical negative effect of football on health in times of an injury. Concussions and injuries to the lower limb are extremely common in football. These injuries can be traumatic – head collision, twist to the knee, tackle to the ankle, and can also occur from overuse of muscle and repeated load to the tendons and joints.

Inorder to prevent these from occurring and keeping the player out on the bench, there are several strategies that can be followed:

Preparation for Play: 

A player can only achieve peak performance when he/she has been prepared for the season appropriately. Chronic preparation involves the athlete’s nutrition, training load and recovery strategies over a long period of time  whereas acute preparation focuses on the athlete’s strategic plan i.e visualisation, match day targets, warm up and cool down, dietary intake and fluid consumption.

During the off-season i.e. period of rest from football,  sticking to a balanced fitness program or a recreational sport of their choice that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility a few times a week is essential. 

It is important to step away from the primary sport during off-season to let their minds and bodies recharge in preparation to return to play.

Pre-season Assessment: All players should have a pre-season baseline musculoskeletal and concussion  assessment to determine their readiness to play and identify any condition that may limit participation. 

Warm-Up: incorporation of 15-20 minutes of a dynamic warm-up program prepares the body for high intensity exercise and reduces the potential risk of an injury. The first stage should involve active stretching and slow-speed running. The second stage should progress to drills designed for balance, agility, plyometrics and strength. The final stage should focus on moderate to high speed running combined with change of direction, i.e. cutting movements.

Cool-Down: Stretching at the end of practice is too often neglected because of busy schedules. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and  stiffness post-match. It also provides the muscles the opportunity to maintain their normal length and flexibility.

Hydration: Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate adequately. If your fluid intake is low, your body will not be able to cool itself through sweat and evaporation effectively.  Make sure to sip enough water before, during, after the physical activity. 

Sleep: Sound sleep is important for day to day recovery from training, but more so before game day! Adolescents require at least 8-10 hours of sleep whereas adults require anything between 7-9 hours for optimal performance.

Equipment: Well fitted shin guards and socks prevent bruising and fractures of leg bones. Boots with molded cleats and ribbed soles give you better grip and stability, thereby preventing twisting of the ankle.

Safe Return To Play: In case of an injury, do not play through the pain. Listen to your body – more is not always less! Decrease your training time and intensity to allow the symptoms to subside. Since the focus is mainly on one sport the entire year, it is common to develop overuse injuries.

Our sports physios here at KTB are experts in injury prevention and rehabilitation. You can book online or call us on 01322 552299.