Football Injuries

Football combines speed, agility, power and strength and therefore requires quick movements and changes in direction in addition to avoiding contact with others in a high speed environment; consequently, the risk of injury is fairly high. The most common football injuries are listed below:

Metatarsal fracture

What is a metatarsal fracture?

A metatarsal fracture is one of the most common injuries in football. The foot has 5 metatarsal bones, which stretch from the ankle to the toes; these bones are fragile and can be damaged easily, especially when the foot is put under constant pressure like it is in football. A fracture of the 5th metatarsal is the most common.

Diagnosing a metatarsal fracture

The area around the affected bone will feel tender and may swell up after a period of time; there will also be some localised pain.

Treating a metatarsal fracture

Fractures are usually treated with anti-inflammatory medication and the use of a cast; this cast is usually made of plastic and helps to realign the damaged bone. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the cast may have to be worn for a long period of time. Surgery may also be used to repair the fracture; this usually produces a quicker recovery time.

Recovering from a metatarsal fracture

Recovery can take several weeks if the fracture is serious. Once the injury has healed a player can begin to participate in light training and will eventually be able to train properly; this process must be undertaken gradually to ensure the injury has fully healed and prevent further damage.

Sprained ankle

The ankle is particularly vulnerable in football due to the fast-paced nature of the game, the actions of twisting and turning and the possibility of poorly-timed tackles; consequently, ankle sprains are common amongst footballers. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments surrounding the joint are damaged or stretched further than their limit.

Diagnosing a sprained ankle

Ankle sprains may be mild (first degree), serious (second degree) or severe (third degree). A first degree sprain will usually produce localised pain and tenderness when the area is touched. Second degree strains will be more painful and may swell after a period of time. Third degree sprains usually involve a dislocation of the ankle joint; the ankle may look different and will swell significantly; the area will be very painful.

Treating an ankle sprain

Treatment depends on the severity of the injury, though ice should be applied regularly to all injuries; this will reduce swelling and help to ease pains. Mild injuries usually heal fairly quickly although the ankle may feel sore when a player is standing or moving. More serious injuries will usually require the individual to use crutches for a period of time; this will enable the ankle to heal faster. Anti-inflammatory medicines may also be prescribed to ease swelling.

Recovering from an ankle sprain

Some sprains can be shaken off quickly and will not require any treatment; however, serious sprains will require a great deal of rehabilitation which may take several weeks. Usually, once the joint has started to heal, the individual will have a course of physiotherapy to strengthen the joint gradually and start to put weight on it. The recovery process is vital to successful healing and the prevention of future problems. If ankle problems are persistent, it may be advisable to have surgery.

Groin Strain

Groin strains are common in football and often occur as a result of a player stretching to reach the ball. Groin strains are caused by over-extension of the adductor muscles, which are located in the inner thigh.

Symptoms of groin strain

Mild cases may show no visible sign of strain but athletes will usually feel a degree of pain during movement; more serious cases are much more painful and can inhibit walking and joint movement. Bruising usually appears after a day or two.

Treating a groin strain

Ice should be placed on the affected area regularly; this will help to ease swelling and reduce pain; most people also take anti-inflammatory medicines. Depending on the severity of the strain, a player may have to rest for several weeks; however, mild strains usually heal quickly.

Recovering from a groin strain

Recovery time depends on the seriousness of the strain. Mild injuries heal quickly but a player should still refrain from participating in demanding physical activity until it has healed completely. Serious injuries can take a period of several weeks to heal and may require physiotherapy to speed up recovery and strengthen the affected muscle fibres.

Hamstring injuries

Hamstring injuries are very common in football and are commonly caused by a pull or tear in the muscle; these injuries are often referred to as hamstring strains. Hamstring injuries are categorised by their severity; first degree strains affect only a few of the muscle fibres and are not considered too serious. Second degree strains are more painful and cause more extensive damage to the muscle fibres. Third degree strains involve severe damage to the fibres.

Symptoms of hamstring injuries

First degree strains may not be felt until after physical activity and may only cause slight pain and cramps. Second degree strains are much more painful and are felt almost immediately; pain is heightened when the area is stretched or pressure is applied to the area. Third degree strains are very serious and occur when the muscle is torn; the player usually pulls up in extreme pain and feels the muscle burning; a player will usually be unable to walk if they have torn their hamstring.

Treating a hamstring injury

Mild hamstring injuries can usually be cured with a combination of rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. More serious strains often require a prolonged period of rest and recovery, which will prevent a player from taking part in training for a long time.

Recovering from a hamstring injury

Severe hamstring strains take a long time to heal so it essential to rest, keep the leg elevated and apply ice regularly. Once the injury has started to heal, a player will be able to start gradually putting weight on it and will eventually be able to start light training. Most players will have physiotherapy to speed up recovery time and strengthen the muscle.

Preventing hamstring strains

The risk of suffering from a hamstring injury will be significantly decreased by doing a thorough warm up and cool down.

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