Soccer is incredibly popular in the United States today, among both adults and children. Consequently, the incidence of injury is high as well. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division reported almost a quarter million soccer-related injuries in 2012.* Of those injuries, almost 100,000 were experienced by children.** Soccer injuries typically result from either overuse or some type of traumatic incident.
Overuse injuries in soccer involve the ankle or knee. These problems typically result from a sudden increase in activity levels or from exceeding the body’s current level of capability. In many cases, overuse injuries can be treated while sports participation continues, if a method can be identified to rest the injured area and allow it to heal.
For a sore knee, active treatment may involve a brace or the use of orthopedic tape to reduce the strain on growth plates and inflamed tendons. In the case of a painful ankle or foot, the solution may be a simple as an arch support or heel cup added to shoes or cleats that lack proper support.
Inflammation is the predominant culprit in overuse injuries, and ice is a simple and effective way to reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen or Aleve help reduce discomfort and reduce inflammation as well. In some cases, stretching the inflamed areas may also be beneficial.
Traumatic soccer injury typically involves twisting the knee or rolling the ankle, but it may also occur in a collision with another player. In evaluating the severity of the problem, the trainer or doctor will consider any pain or popping you experienced at the time of the incident as well as the degree of swelling. Your ability to bear weight on the injury and whether the knee or ankle is stable are also considered.
If you are unable to see the doctor or trainer immediately, place ice on the affected area as quickly as possible. Protect the injury with a wrap, tape or a boot, and use crutches to avoid placing weight on the knee or ankle. Take extra care of any injury that involves a distinct pop, especially if swelling is present, as this may indicate an ACL tear. ACL tears require the attention of a physician who specializes in sports medicine, for the best results and quickest recovery.