Growing up playing soccer you are going to deal with many injuries, but with the right knowledge you can get back on the field faster. In this common soccer injuries series, I will go over in detail more about each common soccer injury and how to prevent and treat each one. Please check them out and spread the word! If you notice an asterisk (*), then these are injuries I personally experienced playing as either a youth, college (4 years) or pro player (7 years). Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Patellar tendonitis (Jumper’s knee)*
Patellar tendonitis is usually going to be on the knee that does most of the planting while kicking the ball. So for example, a right footed player will usually get this on the left knee. This can last a few days, weeks or even months depending on how much you are playing at the moment (frequency of play).
Stretching out the quad and doing some simple balancing exercises can help right away. Resting as much as you can and rehab are two key things you need to try and do. Also make sure you get a good light warm-up.
How to treat patellar tendonitis
There are a few things you can do to help your knee recover fully. Stretch the quad several times a day. This will help relieve the pulling on the knee. Foam roller on the quad and IT band. Try not to sit in a position where your knee is bent for 30 mins to 2 hours +. A good example of this would be riding in the back of a car where your knee is bent. Or sitting at a desk with your knee bent. If you have to be in this position, try to straighten it as much as possible.
Strengthen the knee by doing light body weight knee bends. Standing up, balance on your injured leg first. Slightly bend your knee and contract your quad. Do this slow and controlled 10 times with both legs, 3 sets. Two reasons to do both legs is one it gives time for recovery/rest and second it’s good to keep both legs conditioned.
Anti Inflammatory foods can be taken into consideration. Why not! It’s healthy and helps reduce inflammation. Fresh pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, olive oil, walnuts, almonds, salmon, blueberries. Adults can choose to take anti inflammatories.
I think most people over the age of 16 have sprained their ankle at least once. There are so many parts of the ankle to sprain and different severities. Sometimes your ankle can look like a melon, but not necessarily hurt. Then other times it might not swell up as bad, but still cause a lot of pain.
I have had two ankle injuries that lasted over a year. Both times what helped was getting it adjusted from a chiropractor. If you have had an ankle injury last over 5 months and you are doing rehab, but the pain still last then you might need to get it adjusted. I remember feeling relief within days or weeks.
One of my most popular blog post is this 7 tips on ankle injury prevention and rehab for soccer players.
How to treat ankle sprain
The best way to treat it is ICE and elevation! Then rehab it for faster recovery. If you don’t start to strengthen it the injury could last for months. Ice water or cold water will help because you are getting all around the injury, which helps with swelling. Whether you use a bucket or even a cold swimming pool will help get the swelling down.
If you can handle the ice or bucket full of ice water do that. If you can’t yet handle that then at least do cold water. In my opinion the pain from the ice/water is worth getting your ankle to feel better.
Concussions in soccer
Unfortunately this is one of the most common soccer injuries. This section can include the eye, nose, & dental but the actual Concussions are the most serious. The way you prevent this is knowing how to head the ball & knowing your surroundings and when to go in for a challenge. Most concussions are not from heading the ball but they do occur from going up for the challenge. Head to head, head hitting the ground, whiplash or even getting kicked or elbowed. So you have to know how to go up, when to go up and the different parts of the head to use and when to use those parts.
Know how to head the ball. You have to know how to place your arms so that you can protect yourself from other players. Then most people don’t know that you can use different parts of the head. Never use the temple at any time. Then depending on if you are flicking the ball back, to the side or if you are heading it back where it came depends on where you use.
Knowing when to head the ball. You have to know when not to go up for headers. There are lots of tough guy coaches who want you to go up for every challenge but ask them why pros back out of certain challenges. I will tell you why: Because they want to live to play another day.
Be selfish when it comes to your brain
You have to be selfish sometimes and when you see a player going up and they don’t see you. This is when you have to decide how or if you go up. If you know you can’t win the challenge then maybe you go up just enough to protect yourself & alter the opponent from getting a good header. There are just times when you have to protect yourself and the other player.
Don’t be afraid to head the ball just because of the new rule change. In case you don’t know about the rule change, they made it where kids under 11 years old are not allowed to head the ball. Many studies show that when the ball is headed properly, it will not cause concussions. Concussions happen so many different ways from getting kicked, head to head, shoulder to head, elbow, head to ground or even whiplash.
Ouch! This is one of the Most Common Soccer Injuries for All ages. The reason is because we are always having to reach for a ball, run, kick – which all make the groin stretch and pull. In the college and pro years you have to be careful because these can end up being torn. Any player at this level will agree that this is one of the common soccer injuries.
The best way to treat it beside rest and rehab is an ice bath. An ice pack really doesn’t do the job in that area. This part of our body stays so warm that you really need to get all the way in the ice water.
I personally had to have this surgery in college, where I had to fly to Boston, Mass to get the procedure done. After this pain and rehab I knew my journey was to go on and try to play pro soccer.
You can’t go through that type of pain and not try to play as long as you can. 🙂 After the surgery I can say I didn’t injure my groin again; I think because they made the area so strong and tight. Also I took good care of myself after that.
Sever’s disease in young athletes
Another one of the most common soccer injuries is Sever’s disease. This is heel pain that is common especially for youth soccer players ages 9-11. Just in the last year we have had 2 boys and 1 girl get this. Thank goodness it didn’t last long. This is usually something that last for a few weeks or months.
If this happens see if you can just rest it, but also know that it will go away so don’t be frustrated. The condition presents as pain in the heel and is caused by repetitive stress to the heel and is common in youth athletes.
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Warning: not much descriptor needed! You will know it when it happens! It’s an injury on the back of the leg that usually happens to older athletes in Track, Basketball, Soccer, Football & Dance where players have to do lots of Sprints or Jumps. There are 3 Hamstring Muscles: 1) Semitendinosus 2) Semimembranosus 3) Biceps femoris. Check out my next article on Hamstring Pulls later in the series to learn more!
Pulled quadriceps (Quad)
A pulled quad happens usually from Shooting or a long pass that requires lots of strength from the quad as well as the abdominals. This is a great example of why soccer trainers are the best choice for strength & conditioning – we understand how each part of the body supports the other for all movements! So if the Abs are weak then the poor quads are having to do most of the work. Eventually an isolated muscle will get tired and break down, resulting in a pull.
This *hard name* injury is a childhood repetitive use injury that causes a painful inflammation lump below the knee. It is more of a growing pain that some players, especially ages 9-18, have to deal with. But some players as young as 6 and adults as old as 40 can experience it as well.
There’s not much you can do about Osgood, but take some ibuprofen, vitamin D, & Ice when it flares up. This condition is not serious and usually goes away within a few months.
Ask yourself: is pain located on the shins? If so, you could have shin splints. Shin splints are micro-tears that make it hard to flex the toes up. So this makes it hard to walk, run and juggle a ball. Trapping the ball with the inside of the foot is also uncomfortable because you have to lift your toes up. The best thing you can do is Rest! If you can take off a few days it should recover. If not and it sticks around a few weeks you need to go to the Doctor. It’s probably something worse and you could be out a month or more.
A Contusion EVERY soccer player deals with almost every week. This is something we have to deal with but knowing how to treat it helps. Really, it’s bumps and bruises and they go away. But if you can ICE then it helps. Sometimes these knocks can take several weeks to recover. Of the common soccer injuries this has to be #1. I think we all get these every week just living life. Some can be serious so read up on it by clicking the link above.
How to treat a contusion
Instead of an ice pack maybe you want to try the ICE Massage, which is a paper cup with water frozen. You peel the top of the paper cup so that you can rub the ice on your injury. This is also great for Knee and Ankle injuries and all you need is 5 Minutes which saves time.
Skin injuries (strawberries)*
Another one of the common soccer injuries. These not-so-sweet injuries are going to happen to everyone (or at least it had better! 🙂 LOL). If you are 10+ and don’t get a Strawberry or a slide burn on the knee then you’re not playing hard enough in my opinion. So since this is so common lets know how to treat it.
First, what is a Strawberry? This is from slide tackling which can rub the skin off the players side hip under the shorts. It hurts! I recommend using sliding shorts under the soccer shorts but make sure they don’t show, meaning don’t let them be longer than your soccer shorts because it looks bad.
How to treat skin injuries
The main thing is after you’re done playing, wash the injury with soap & water. Treat it for the night of with some (lots) healing ointment. Cover with a big bandage but not a gauze pad material. This is because this will stick to the skin overnight. Trust me, you don’t want to have to pull that off your strawberry.
***Gross skin injury story***
One time (& only one time!) I put some kind of gauze pad with not enough ointment and it ended up staying on my leg for several days! I had to cut pieces off my leg each night because I just couldn’t pull it off, especially since it was basically stuck to my scab. Gross I know. 🙂 This is why you should get slider shorts so you don’t get such a bad burn.
Heel Spurs occur as pain on the back of the heel & hurts most in the mornings. The best way to treat this is by stretching the calf and Achilles tendon. I don’t think this is necessarily a popular soccer injury but is something that is common for people of all ages. I don’t think they know what it is except that it hurts.
I remember having this when I was about 10 years old, and the reason I say all ages is because my grandma had it the same time I did. Besides helping me with this, here are 3 things my grandma taught me in sports.
Turf toe explained
Turf toe is the hyperextension of the big toe. If you’ll remember, Deion Sanders had this injury really bad and had to have surgery *I think*. This is an injury that happens to faster athletes like wide-receivers and track sprinters. The way they take off running lends itself to injury.
How to treat turf toe
To understand what it could feel like, take your index-finger and pull it back. Once you feel that stretch in the inside of your hand, you’ve now felt your body telling you where it happens and how.
Imagine hyper-extending your toe so badly that it pulls some of the bone off. This can take 3 – 6 months or more to recover 100%. It hurts under the ball of your foot and the side of our foot (bunion area). Even though it’s called Turf Toe, it’s not your actual toe that hurts.
Why you should not ‘play through’ turf toe
I personally had this 2 times and both were bad. However, I did not need surgery. One time in college I was just practicing and all of sudden felt like I hyperextended my toe. I kept playing because I thought it was one of those pains that just goes away within a few minutes or days. It took all Summer to get better and still wasn’t better by fall preseason.
The second time, I was playing pro and we were in a tournament in the Caribbean. We were playing in the CONCACAF Club Championship (Top 8 pro clubs in North, Central America and the Caribbean) & the field we played on was old school turf that had sand sprinkled on top.
The same as my first injury of turf toe; it wasn’t just a sudden pain of me knowing exactly when I hurt it. To this day I think it’s weird that such a long lasting pain wasn’t a sudden injury where I knew how it happened.
Causes of turf toe. Again, this injury is one of the least of the common soccer injuries, but good to learn about. I think turf toe is due to playing on a bad surface or sudden sprinting when maybe we could have stretched better. How should you stretch this? Stretch your calf and Achilles and see how you can also stretch under your foot by getting more up on your toes.