Avoiding injury on the football pitch

In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, over 104 injuries were reported, equating to 1.68 per match. But what is it exactly that causes these professional players to sustain injuries on the biggest stage in football? These are the top factors in World Cup injuries, which are equally, if not more relevant to those of us who only make it out onto the pitch on a Sunday morning.

Deficits in balance and coordination

Studies have shown unanimously that reduced balance and coordination are responsible for a huge numbers of injuries. Whether it’s landing awkwardly from an aerial contest, or rolling an ankle attempting to out-step your opponent, impaired balance can shatter World Cup and Sunday morning dreams.

Balance and coordination exercises can improve muscle-patterning when you’re landing and sprinting. So if you want to prevent the dreaded inversion injuries to your ankles or a ligament injury to a knee, you need fit balance and coordination exercises into your fitness routine.

Muscle imbalances

Muscles work in pairs, one contracting as the other relaxes. If one muscle is excessively strong, its opposing muscle can have a hard job dealing with the recoil to slow the limb. This is most frequently seen in hamstring tears from a kicking action.

A hugely powerful contraction of the quad and hip flexors while striking a ball also requires the hamstrings to slow the flailing limb down while at full stretch. If your hamstrings aren’t strong enough to deal with these forces, the muscles will soon suffer.

Most joints do have a bias to one action compared to another, however they still need to be in appropriate strength brackets. By training the opposing muscle groups, you can prevent issues like this arising.

Previous injury

Sporting injuries can linger for a long time. Old injuries will always be considered a weak link in your chain. Research shows that the biggest cause of injuries is having a previous poorly rehabbed injury.

The best way to reduce your risk of getting an injury in the first place is to have a solid preventative exercise plan. Use a mix of training techniques, and exercise muscles both concentrically and eccentrically to help reduce injury risk.

Accumulated fatigue

An intense training load prior to the World Cup, a congested match schedule, and reduced recovery time is a recipe for disaster for professional footballers. This can put a phenomenal strain on the players’ bodies. Travelling for longer durations, acclimatisation and limited recovery time add to the toll during the World Cup.

Although you’re unlikely to be experiencing this level of challenge and physical fatigue, adequate rest is an absolute must for anyone performing regularly. It’s no different if you’re training outside of a professional team. Remember: nutrition, rest, recovery.

Rest is the one thing we can’t help you with here at PhysioMotion. But if you want advice on an exercise programme to improve balance and coordination, assessments of muscle strength and gait, or advice on how to rehabilitate an old injury, get in touch.