Soccer Injuries

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Sports Injury Treatment


Top 5 Soccer Injuries.

Do You Recognise any of the following Common Soccer Injuries?

You may be reading this because you have one of these top 5 Soccer Injuries! Let’s have a look at each injury in turn and common treatment approaches.

Soccer is one of the most common and widely played sports in the world. As with all sports it has specific injuries associated with it. These injuries are related to the movement patterns involved in soccer and the muscles and joints that are strained in this process. I have worked with many soccer clubs over my 17 years as a physiotherapist and have noticed that players have a typical pattern of injury presentation.

I would now like to share with you the five most common soccer injuries that I see on a daily basis, and briefly suggest treatments and preventions for each. But please remember this is just one Physiotherapists opinion!

  1. Anterior cruciate ligament tear. This is where one of the two ligaments deep inside your knee is torn. As a result of this injury, your thigh bone will slide over your shin bone resulting in your knee ‘giving way’ underneath you. It is a serious sports injury that commonly requires both physiotherapy and surgical management. The pain that is associated with anterior cruciate strain is usually located at the front and back of your knee. However, if the tear has been there for some time, pain is often absent and weakness and ‘giving way’ are the main presenting problems.

    The treatment of anterior ligament tear is dependent on an early and correct diagnosis. If it is completely torn, I generally advise surgical intervention, unless all you want to do activity-wise in life is in a straight line! Joking aside - this is an important consideration, as I have treated people who have gone through surgery and the intense rehabilitation programme associated with it, when their only goal was to return to straight line walks. Ultimately, if that is your desire generally a good physiotherapist will teach you how to strengthen your leg efficiently to undergo such straight line activity without any difficulty.

    However, if you are involved in a twisting sport, I suggest surgery to a fully torn antercruciate is usually a necessity. Over my years as a sports physiotherapist, the clients that I have seen pre-surgery have generally done much better than those that I see for the first time post op. Assessing you pre-operatively, allows your physiotherapist to rehabilitate your knee better. If I know the pre-operative condition of your knee, I will rehab you more efficiently and effectively.

    However, don’’t panic, either way a physio will help you greatly! Treatment involves range of movement stretching in conjunction with specific strength and balance exercises. It is detailed and time dependant so my advice is to seek immediate Physiotherapy advice and intervention if you have a cruciate tear. Results are usually very good.

  2. Medial collateral ligament tear.- Is another one of the common soccer injuries. It usually results from a blow to the outer part of the knee. It results in the inside of your knee being overstretched - resulting in medial collateral ligament damage and or medial cartilage damage. It is painful! Treatment involves, after the initial rest, ice and compression, deep friction therapy, mobilisation and strength and balance exercises. A good chartered physiotherapist will advise you on this. Prevention of medial collateral ligament damage involves avoidance of stressful tackles and some good luck!

  3. Ankle ligament tear. - Is also a very common soccer injury. Although there are many ligaments that can be torn in the ankle, the cause and treatment is at large the same.The cause of an ankle ligament tear is as a result of a tackle, or as a result of an ankle turning over on uneven ground, or again as a result of bad luck in foot positioning.

Poor balance also often results in the increased chance of an ankle ligament tear. I frequently work with soccer players in the prevention of ankle tears, by advising them on home exercises to both strengthen and improve their balance. This is successful in the prevention of ankle and knee injuries, but luck is also a factor regardless of what we experts say!

  1. Cartilage tear.- This is, again, a result of a strain or a blow to the outside or inside of your knee. It usually requires surgical intervention followed by a good strengthening and balance re-education programme. If your knee is locking or grating seek immediate medical advice.

  2. Groin strain. Is one of my favourites (from a physiological point of view)! It is caused by so many factors ranging from poor biomechanics to aggressive tackles and overuse. Ultimately, when diagnosed early it responds very well to physiotherapy. However, if it becomes chronic and longstanding it may require surgery, physiotherapy and often the end result may not be good! So, seek immediate attention if you suffer form a groin strain!

Finally, lower leg Fractures, shoulder dislocations, Achilles tendonitis and shin splints are other common soccer injuries that I see - and require immediate physiotherapy intervention to treat, - and ultimately - prevent their presence in your life!

I have found that soccer players that attend for Pilates classes have a reduced occurrence of soccer-related injuries. So, get out there and do Pilates in conjunction with your existing training programme!


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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