SOCCER AND INJURY RATES
Soccer, like most field sports, is both high intensity and a physically demanding sport. Sprinting and changing direction, whilst also using primarily the legs to pass, shoot and dribble, makes the sport very demanding on the lower body. Most injuries (60-90%) within soccer players occur in the lower body (Sadigursky, et al 2017). It is therefore important to strengthen the muscles that are most prone to injury.
Soccer involves fast bursts of acceleration and deceleration, as a result, hamstring injuries have been shown to represent between 15 and 50% of all muscular injuries in soccer players [reference]. Hamstrings also have a high rate of recurrence of 12-33%, and this is even after a thorough rehabilitation and management of the injury. Injury prevention of the hamstrings should be a crucial part of training. Incorporating the nordic hamstring curl can be a way of reducing hamstring injury rates. A study by Al Attar et al, has found that the inclusion of the exercise in both pre-season and throughout the season was shown to lower hamstring injury rates by 65% compared to just flexibility training (e.g stretching) alone.
Due to the change of direction, passing and shooting demands of soccer, the groin muscles are also commonly injured in soccer players. Soccer requires frequent side to side movement, which loads the groin significantly. The most common movement patterns where this muscle is used is when defending, passing (with instep of foot) as well as shooting. Groin injuries have been found to account for 11-39% of all muscular injuries in soccer players, and also increase the risk of injuries in other areas of the body Langhout, et al 2018). The updated FIFA 11+ program has placed such importance on groin strength, that as a result have added Copenhagen planks to their list of injury prevention exercises (Sadigursky, et al 2017).
WARM UP & PRESEASON INJURY PREVENTION
Some of the most common causes of injury are the result of an inappropriate warm up, muscular imbalance as well as fatigue. An example of an excellent guide in order to target soccer specific muscular activation is the FIFA 11+. The first 15 minutes of a game is a period of time in which players are at some of the greatest risk of injury, so it is important to warm up as adequately as possible to minimise these risks.
Combined with a good warm up routine, studies involving elite soccer players also showed that appropriate preseason training helps players prepare for the demands of the upcoming season (Ekstrand, et al 2020). This has been especially important this year, due to the impact COVID restrictions have had on soccer in both an amateur and professional capacity.
Sadigursky, D., Braid, J. A., De Lira, D. N. L., Machado, B. A. B., Carneiro, R. J. F., & Colavolpe, P. O. (2017). The FIFA 11+ injury prevention program for soccer players: a systematic review. BMC sports science, medicine and rehabilitation, 9(1), 1-8.
Al Attar, W. S. A., Soomro, N., Sinclair, P. J., Pappas, E., & Sanders, R. H. (2017). Effect of injury prevention programs that include the Nordic hamstring exercise on hamstring injury rates in soccer players: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(5), 907-916.
Langhout, R., Tak, I., Van Beijsterveldt, A. M., Ricken, M., Weir, A., Barendrecht, M., … & Stubbe, J. (2018). Risk factors for groin injury and groin symptoms in Elite-Level soccer players: a cohort study in the Dutch professional Leagues. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 48(9), 704-712.
Ekstrand, J., Spreco, A., Windt, J., & Khan, K. M. (2020). Are elite soccer teams’ preseason training sessions associated with fewer in-season injuries? A 15-year analysis from the union of European football associations (UEFA) elite club injury study. The American journal of sports medicine, 48(3), 723-729.