Football is a fun summer activity to play with family and friends. But even a friendly game can open you up to irritating or downright painful injuries. So, to help you avoid them, here are the 4 most common Football injuries and what you can do to protect against them.
What it is
The hamstrings are long muscles running along the back of your thigh. As they control knee flexion and hip extension, they're crucial for running, jumping, kicking, and general manoeuvring on the Football field. But, all the sprinting, ducking, weaving, and the sharp turns you need to make to play a good game can pull them past their normal movement range, causing stress tears.
With a pulled hammy, you’ll feel a sharp, sudden pain along the beach of your thigh. You might also feel like your legs are wobbly and see swelling and bruising popping up at the back of your thigh.
How to avoid this Football injury
The best course of action to avoid a pulled hamstring is to not pull it, which you can do by:
- Ensuring your leg muscles are strong and stable. Add exercises like squats, glute bridges, and donkey kicks to your routine.
- Keeping your hamstrings flexible. Legs up the wall and downward dog are great poses for gently stretching your hamstrings.
- Do some warm-ups. Jog around, do some jumping jacks, and maybe a couple of squats to get your circulation going and warm up your muscles. This will help loosen your hamstrings and make them less prone to sprains.
- Invest in a quality compression sleeve for extra support. Our Thigh Compression Sleeves, for example, will boost circulation and oxygen supply around your hammies and improve sensorimotor function. That means your muscles will warm up faster, oscillate less, recover quicker, and be more flexible.
What is it
Jumper’s Knee (also known as patellar tendonitis) is a repetitive strain injury affecting the patellar tendon, which stabilises your kneecap and supports the movement of your knee. Jumper's Knee is often caused by overstraining the tendon and quads through repetitive motions like running and jumping.
As a repetitive strain injury, it’s generally not serious and won’t cause acute pain, though you may feel a sudden and sharp ache when the tendon sprains. You may also get some swelling and redness around the knee and shin bone.
How to avoid this knee injury
- Do some knee-strengthening exercises. The stronger the surrounding muscle, the less strain your patellar tendon will experience. Wall squats and straight leg raises, in particular, are good for building a patellar support system. Learn how to do them here: How to Strengthen Your Knees
- Make sure your quads and hamstrings are flexible. Because if these muscles are too tight, they’ll pull on the patellar tendon. For your hamstrings, try downward dog. And for your quads, do the cobra and quads stretch.
- Get some rest. Giving your patellar tendon a break every once in a while (especially after strenuous exercise like Football) is a good way to keep this stress injury at bay.
- Practise proper conditioning. How your ankle and knee track impact how much work your knee tendons do to keep everything aligned and moving smoothly. The better they track, the easier the job gets.
- Get a knee brace. Our Sports Knee Support will help stabilise your knee and improve the way it tracks through targeted compression, taking some of the pressure off your patellar tendon.
What it is
Ankle sprains happen when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle too hard for your tendons and ligaments to keep up with. In Football, they’ll usually happen when you need to quickly change direction, get tackled, or even run across uneven terrain like sand or park grass.
With a sprain, you’ll usually find it painful to put weight on the affected ankle. You may also get some swelling, bruising, and instability.
How to avoid this injury
- Add calf raises, single-leg balances, and standing ankle rotations to your workout routine to strengthen your ankles.
- Add some ankle flexion and extension exercises too. These will gently stretch the muscles around the joint, helping it stay flexible and mobile. If you’re not sure how to do ankle flexions, start by sitting on a spot on the ground where your ankles hang off a ledge (like the landing of a stairway). Keep your legs straight and your knees unmoving throughout. For ankle dorsiflexion, bend your feet and toes up so they point at your face. Relax your feet. Repeat 10 times. For plantarflexion, point your feet and toes down as far as your ankle allows. Relax your feet. Repeat 10 times.
- Get a good pair of shoes, and maybe add some insoles for good measure. They’ll cushion your heels, support your arches, and help stabilise the joint.
- Get a good ankle support with medical grade compression and a figure-8 strap. Our Malleotrain Plus, for example, will stabilise the joint without restricting movement.
ROTATOR CUFF STRAIN
What is it
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that power the movement of your shoulder joint. You can sprain these muscles through a collision (i.e., being tackled and having your shoulder stretched at an awkward angle), or through repetitive motion (like throwing a football one too many times).
How to avoid this Football injury
- Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles for improved stability. Exercises like serratus push-ups, internal rotations, and external rotations are good to add to your workouts. You can learn how to do them here: How to Avoid Swimmer’s Shoulder this Summer
- Add in the stretches from the above article, too. They’ll help make your shoulders and upper back more flexible and less prone to overstraining.
- Try a shoulder brace, especially if you have some stability or mobility issues in the shoulder. Our OmoTrain S uses similar principles to our Sports Knee Brace to help stabilise the joint, improve sensorimotor function, and boost circulation.
Along with stretching, strengthening, supporting, and bracing, you should also:
- Go to the doctor if something feels off. Even minor strains and sprains can turn serious if left unaddressed.
- Unless you’re playing pro, take it easy on the field. Competitive spirit is great until you throw too hard or sprint too fast and sprain a muscle.
- Lastly and most importantly, REST! Your body needs to recover after strenuous games. If you don’t give it a breather, you’ll risk chronically tensed muscles, swelling, and overstrained tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
TO SUM UP
The knee, ankle, shoulder, and hamstrings are some of the most commonly injured body parts in Football. And while they’re often not dangerous, they can be painful and potentially stop you from playing for a couple of weeks. So, whether you’re playing pro, amateur, or just playing with your friends or family for some weekend fun, make sure you take the necessary steps to protect these joints and muscles.
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