While playing any sport, injuries are common. Football game involves speed play and physical stress which make football injuries quite common. Football injuries range from minor aches to serious traumatic injuries.
Football injuries are more compared to other sports like rugby, cricket, hockey, cycling, boxing etc. injuries due to football may be mostly to lower limbs (Knee and Ankle)
Football play needs a lot of strength and energy. While playing football, lots of padding and protective guards are worn. After all these protective measures also, following injuries and pain may happen.
Common Football injuries
• Head and Neck Injuries (Prime injury areas)
Sports person with helmeted head involves the risk of injuries. Helmet –to – helmet collision/contact during play with full speed is the main cause of head and neck pain.
Blow on head may also be a reason.
- Concussion(Symptoms include Confusion, Short term memory problems, Fainting, Vomiting, Unstable gait)
- Neck strain/Fracture.
- Cervical spine injury.
- Whiplash injury of neck
• Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal injuries are not that common. They happen when the defensive players are in act of tackling.
• Back Injuries
Muscle strain of back
Low back ache
• Shoulder Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries - Due to repeated strain
Burner/stringer (causing shooting pain down the affected arm) condition is common. This may occur either due to stretch or compression of brachial plexus in shoulder.
• Hand Injuries
Finger fractures - Due to blow by the football
• Hip Injuries
Hamstrings strain -Due to vigorous running
Groin pull/Tear - Due to lateral movements and stretches
• Knee Injuries
They can sideline a player for months or longer. These occur while moving in one direction and struck on the knee making the joint move in opposite direction. When a player behind him rolls onto the back of the legs.
Anterior/Medial/Lateral/Posterior cruciate ligament injuries.
• Leg Injuries
Calf muscle pull/Strain
• Ankles Injuries
Ankle ligament sprains - Due to running, overstretching and overuse
Achilles tendonitis - Painful tendon at back of ankle, it is acute in early stages but can rupture due to negligence.
Blisters - Fluid-filled sacks on skin surface seen on hands and feet
• Foot Injuries
Turf toe /Big toe injury - Occurs due to running/jumping on a hard surface
Ankle sprain is most common in football than in other sports (due to twisting motion of upper lower leg tibia and fibula over the ankle bone talus)
• Heat-Related Injuries occur mainly due to practice sessions during summer. Heat cramps, Dehydration, Low mineral levels etc.
• Other Football Injuries
Sprains and Strains
Muscle cramps – cause sudden intense pain due to involuntary forcible contracting of the muscle which does not relax.
Muscle soreness – pain after activity.
Fractures – mostly at Wrist, Fingers and Legs
Physical Therapy Treatment
• Pain Management
R.I.C.E treatment method and Electrotherapy application needed for recovery depending on the condition.
Note: Rest the joints when inflammation and swelling present but prolonged rest may lead to stiff joints.
• Exercise Program:
Exercise program is to be individualized depending on the pain, muscle strength and overall mobility of the person.
Normal breathing is to be done while exercising.
Stop particular exercise if the player feels
- Joint swelling
- Limitation/stiff movement
- Continuous pain in the joint/area while doing exercise and after completion of exercise.
• Range of Motion Exercises:
Allow normal range of movements
Increase flexibility of joints.
• Stretching Exercises:
Stretch the muscle slowly and hold it for 10-20 sec without any abrupt and jerky movements.
Increase flexibility of the joints.
Increase range of movement of joints.
• Strengthening Exercises:
These exercise increase the strength of the muscles which support the joint and help them maintain the pain-free normal range of motion.
Slight weight bearing exercises only help in OA and RA as maximum weight bearing exercises may lead additional stress over the effected joint increasing pain and inflammation.
Non weight bearing activities include stationary cycling, Swimming and rowing.
Strengthening exercises are of 3 types: Isometric, Isokinetic, and Isotonic.
Strengthening exercises may not only include with weight but can also done with elastic/resistance bands depending on the need.
• Aerobic Exercises and Endurance Exercises:
Improve body fitness
Maintain cardiovascular health
Improve muscle strength and immunity.
Proper nutrition should be taken. Improper diet prevents from early recovery. A balanced diet includes:
Carbohydrate intake which help in refueling muscles
Proteins to rebuild muscles
Proper intake of water.
Vitamins and Minerals
• Warm-up Program – This should be done before and after playing. It consists of
Specific sports exercises.
- Increasing temperature of muscles.
- Increases blood circulation and oxygen to muscles.
- Increase the speed of nerve impulses making the muscle action faster.
- Increase the range of motions of the joints.
- Improves the performance of the joint action.
• Stretching Exercises of all the muscles and joints are to be done. This helps in preventing injuries.
• Cool-down Program
It consists of gentle jogging followed by light stretching.
- Gradually lower your heart rate
- Restoration of blood and oxygen to muscles as they were before exercise program
- Removes toxic and waste products
- Reduces muscle soreness present after activity.
• Correct techniques of playing the game are to be practiced.
• Appropriate padding equipment kits are to be used to prevent direct injury.
• Good fitness training and trainer are also necessary.
• During practice also wear good and protective equipments.
• Have a first aid kit on hand in case if any minor injuries occur.
• Sports Massage
Regular sports massage help in flushing of toxic and waste products.
Relaxes the muscle stress.
Releases tight lumps and bumps in the muscles.
• Dress Appropriately
Proper fitted equipments should be worn (leg guards, batting gloves, good batting helmets with face guard, forearm guards, and wicket-keeping gloves etc).
Shin pads are important to footballers.
Footwear should be appropriate depending on the need of the player. Football shoe should have
- A rigid heal
- Good depth in the upper part to fit the foot properly
- Flexible near the forefoot
- Wide sole which is slightly curved.