Playing soccer can be fun, but can also cause injuriesSoccer is an intense sport, and soccer players are prone to injury. On average, professional soccer players receive 6.5 injuries per 1,000 hours of playing time. Nine out of 10 are sprained ankles, but many requires stays of longer than one month in the hospital or render the player unable to compete. With the World Cup games stoking amateur soccer clubs across the country, the number of soccer-related injuries is bound to rise.
Professional soccer players usually run 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to 15 kilometers in one game, and even amateur players run seven to eight kilometers. Dribbling, tackling, shooting, heading and jumping can all lead to injuries.
Ankles are the most common victims, followed by knees, thighs, the waist, face and shoulders. Headings can lead to concussions. “Amateurs more frequently incur mild injuries” said Lee Gyeong-tae, an orthopedic surgeon at Eulji University’s medical school. “They aren’t highly skilled and don’t know how to avoid injuries.”
Damage to cross-ligaments and Achilles’ tendons is quite common.
Out on the pitch, midfielders are most prone to injuries, followed by defenders, strikers and goalies. Midfielders dribble and make feints more often than other players and can easily damage their knee cartilage or cross-ligaments. Strikers and defenders often have to fight for balls in mid-air, and as a consequence are vulnerable to head injuries.
For amateur players, it’s best to avoid trying back tackles or pushing another player in mid-air. Not only is it dangerous, it’s bound to result in a red-card.
Warming up and stretching before games is a good way to prevent injuries. “In the early morning, muscles and tendons are more stiff and it’s very important to warm up,” said Lee In-sik, a Konkuk University professor who specializes in the rehabilitation of serious injuries.
If an athlete’s body is not flexible enough, he or she can have cramps or muscle pains after a game.
Given that being skilled is the best way to avoid being injured, players should learn how to dribble and maintain balance when kicking. Dehydration can be a concern in the summer heat, and players should drink enough water before and during the game.
Playing with smaller balls than those used by professionals also helps prevent injuries. For amateurs, a soccer ball about the size of a volleyball is best. It’s also safer to play shorter games and on smaller fields than professionals. When players are tired, the risk of injury is higher.
“After spraining an ankle, athletes should try giving it cold massages for the first two days and warm massages for the next three days,” said Choi Il-yong, an orthopedic surgeon at Hanyang University Medical Center. “Even when such symptoms as aches are gone, players should wait for two to three weeks before playing again. If there is damage to ligaments and knees, players should restrain themselves from participating in games for at least four to six weeks.”
by Ko Jong-kwan