10 Common Soccer Injuries (and How to Treat Them)
There’s nothing worse than watching a player go down with a soccer injury.
But unfortunately, it does happen.
When you’re playing an athletic sport like soccer that involves a lot of running, jumping, turning, twisting, etc... injuries are going to occur from time to time.
Which is why all coaches, players, and parents should have basic knowledge on how to treat the most common injuries in soccer.
In this article, I’ll help you recognise some of the most common injuries, and I’ll tell how exactly how I recommend treating them.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m just sharing my opinion based on experience and research. If a player is severely injured, please seek qualified medical advice as soon as possible!
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at the things a player can do to minimise the risk of getting injured in the first place.
9 Thoughts on Preventing Soccer Injuries
- Complete a full warm up before each match or training
- Eat the best foods and drink the right liquids
- Wear the correct size boots and shin pads
- Check the pitch for divots
- Avoid reckless challenges
- Get small injuries checked out ASAP
- If you do get are injured, give your body time to recover
- Take resting seriously between training sessions and matches
Common Soccer Injuries + Treatment
1. Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle is a very common soccer injury that can keep a player out of action for anywhere between a few days to a month or even more.
While most sprained ankle injuries are not too serious, there are extreme cases where the ligaments around the ankle are torn, and surgery does become an option.
But in most cases, a little rest should see it recover before too long.
How to Treat a Sprained Ankle:
The name of the game here is ice and rest.
Apply ice regularly to reduce the swelling, and refrain from putting too much pressure on the ankle. Keeping your leg elevated in the air will also help to bring the swelling down.
If the problem persists then you may want to visit a doctor or physiotherapist.
When tearing gung-ho about the pitch and throwing yourself into last ditch tackles, it’s all too easy to pick up grazes of varying severity.
While these skin injuries don’t usually prevent you from returning to the pitch, they certainly can be painful if you don’t treat them properly.
And they can get infected if left to the elements.
How to Treat a Graze:
Wash the graze thoroughly with soap and water before applying ointment and a bandage. This will help it to heal and prevent it from getting infected.
Make sure you don’t put on one with a gauze dressing as these are very unpleasant to take off afterwards when they get stuck to the scab that forms a protective layer over the wound.
Another common injury that shouldn’t prevent you from playing soccer (apart from in the most extreme cases) is a bruise.
Bruises occur all the time and come in a whole variety of different colours ranging from black and purple to yellow and red.
Although not as serious as most of the other soccer injuries on this list, they can be quite uncomfortable and painful.
How to Treat a Bruise:
Apply ice to help reduce the swelling.
After doing this a number of times, you can then apply heat which helps boost the circulation and clears away any trapped blood that remains around the bruise.
Then apply some ointment and wrap it up tight in a bandage to reduce the pain and swelling while keeping the bruised area elevated.
4. Shin Splits
If you have shin splints you’ll probably realise before too long due to the intense pain emanating from your shins.
It can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant playing with the micro-tears, so you should stop as soon as you realise what the issue is.
How to Treat Shin Splints:
Fortunately enough shin splints are very easy to treat as all you need to do is rest up until the pain has gone and allow the micro-tears to heal.
If the problem persists for more than a week or two then you may want to go to the doctor as they usually don’t take all that long to heal and as such it may be another problem entirely.
A concussion is one of the most dangerous injuries for soccer players.
Concussions should be taken very seriously, which means you should get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
To prevent yourself from getting concussed, choose your challenges wisely and refrain from throwing yourself in head first where possible.
How to Treat a Concussion:
While bruises and grazes are very easy to diagnose and deal with, it’s hard to tell how much damage your brain may have sustained when you’re concussed.
As such, don’t mess around with it.
Go to a doctor as soon as possible. They can then give you all of the appropriate check ups or scans and let you know exactly how to treat it.
6. Pulled Groin
A pulled groin is another common soccer injury.
These occur when you’re stretching for the ball and go beyond your limit.
Once you’ve strained it, it’s very important that you rest up and don’t risk aggravating the injury further as you then risk tearing it and that will take even longer to heal.
How to Treat a Pulled Groin:
As soon as you feel any discomfort with your groin, immediately stop what you’re doing and only return to soccer when you feel that it’s healed.
Apart from giving it time and rest, you can speed up the recovery period by applying ice as many times as possible to the wounded area and an elastic compression to reduce swelling.
Once it has gone down you can then start doing some light stretching to slowly increase your range of motion before returning to training.
7. Pulled Hamstring
Ever seen a professional soccer player sprinting for the ball and then pull up holding the back of their leg?
Well, that’s their hamstring, and they’ve almost certainly just pulled one of the three muscles that lie there.
A common injury amongst older players, a pulled hamstring is very unpleasant to have as you feel a ‘twang’ and suddenly lose power in your leg.
How to Treat a Pulled Hamstring:
As with all soccer injuries, prevention is better than cure.
So it’s important to warm up properly and stretch before matches and training sessions if you want to avoid pulling a hamstring.
If you do pull one, most types of injured hamstring can be treated by resting up, applying ice, and then compressing before elevating the leg above the heart to reduce the pain, swelling, and blood flow.
8. Pulled Calf
Straining or pulling your calf often occurs when you’re sprinting or changing direction. The injury will cause you to pull up short as you can no longer continue.
Varying from micro-tears to partial tearing and complete ruptures, it is one of the most common injuries in soccer.
How to Treat a Pulled Calf
The treatment for a pulled calf is the same as many of the other methods listed above.
Medical practitioners and coaches call it the RICE method, as you need to rest, ice, compress, and elevate where you’re injured.
It usually takes a couple of weeks to recover from a light calf strain while more severe injuries can take months or even surgery to get better.
The impressive sounding Osgood-Schlatter is a very common injury amongst children and adolescents, and comes about from repetitive use when you regularly play sports.
This manifests itself in a painful swelling below the knee.
How to Treat Osgood-Schlatter:
There is not all that much you can do about Osgood-Schlatter apart from ice the bumps and take some ibuprofen when it occurs.
Fortunately it’s not very serious, and while the bumps are certainly painful when knocked or hit, the swellings should reduce and disappear after a couple of months.
10. Achilles Tendonitis
Another injury that occurs due to repetitive use.
Achilles tendonitis is when the tendon on the back of your ankle becomes enflamed and painful.
While it can feel merely stiff or tender, from time to time it can be very painful especially when you point your foot downwards.
How to Treat Achilles Tendonitis:
Once you feel something is wrong with your achilles, either reduce the amount of sport you play and carefully stretch before competition, or stop training completely and ice it regularly.
As there are a range of different things that could be wrong with your achilles, it’s worth going for a check up as you may have to do physiotherapy encourage it to heal as quickly and correctly as possible.
So there you have it…
Ten of the most frequently occurring soccer injuries and how to treat them.
Prevention is better than a cure, so it’s worth going through the steps outlined above if you want to avoid picking up an injury or a knock.
While many common injuries can be prevented with a thorough warm up and regular stretching, others are simply part and parcel of playing the beautiful game.
If you do pick up a decent knock, make sure to get it checked out by a doctor if necessary, and rest up well before returning to training and playing soccer again.