Football is a hugely popular sport, with millions of people participating in games of football all over the world every year. Football is fun, fast-paced and exciting, but like all sports, it does carry a risk of injury. Changing conditions, slippery surfaces, quick movements and the presence of opponents means that injuries are fairly common in football.
Injuries in football range from minor knocks, which can usually be run off without any trouble, to serious strains and tears and fractures, which can take several months, or even years to heal fully.
The most common football injuries include:
The hamstring is the muscle located at the back of the thigh; data shows that this injury accounts for around 40 per cent of injuries in the Premier League over the course of a season. Hamstring strains are often the result of a sudden change in pace, a quick movement or cold muscles and this is why it is extremely important to warm the muscles up before playing sport. Strains can be minor, moderate or severe and they are classed as 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree strains. Immediately after a hamstring strain, it is advisable to adopt the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) principle.
The ankles are used constantly when playing football and it is no surprise that ankle injuries are among the most common. Sprains can be caused by landing awkwardly, tackling and changing direction quickly and like hamstring strains, they vary in severity. Ankle sprains usually occur when the ligaments around the ankle are damaged.
Symptoms of a sprained ankle include pain, swelling, bruising and restricted movement.
Torn cartilage in the knee
A knee cartilage tear affects the meniscus, which is located inside the knee joint; it is caused, most commonly by a sudden change of direction, which causes the joint to twist and the menisci to become trapped between the shin and thigh bones. Symptoms of a tear usually include pain and swelling.
A hernia occurs when internal tissue protrudes through the muscular wall of the abdomen; this is most commonly the result of weakness in the wall, which is usually strong enough to keep the organs and tissues in place.
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury
The anterior cruciate ligament connects the shin and thigh bones; it plays a very important role in maintaining the position of the knee joint and preventing over-rotation and excessive movement in the shin. ACL injuries are usually caused by falling after jumping, hyper-extending when moving or landing awkwardly. Often, ACL injuries are serious and require prolonged rehabilitation and recovery.
Although less prevalent in recent years due to referees clamping down on dirty tactics, tooth loss is always a concern when going up for headers. Swinging elbows as you leap to get the ball have lead to some famous sporting hard men like Joe Jordan in the seventies with missing teeth. If you have missing teeth and would like an orthodontic solution, ask the professionals how braces can help.
Preventing injuries in football
Sometimes, it is impossible to prevent injuries in football; however, there are some very simple tips you can take heed of to try and reduce your risk of being injured; these include:
- always ensure you warm up properly before playing
- wear suitable footwear
- wear a support if you have a weak joint or you have been injured previously
- avoid playing in dangerous conditions
- try to avoid lunging into tackles
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