World Cup fever and physiotherapy

Watching the FIFA World Cup currently going on in Russia, it’s difficult not to watch the action and coverage through the lens of a physiotherapist. We’ve been watching the complete picture with interest, from what’s happening as the teams warm-up, to trainers dealing with on-field injuries.

Higher level soccer teams generally have a disciplined and thorough dynamic warm-up. This allows the joints and muscles to prepare for the activity that will be asked of them, helping to prevent injury.

You can see in the series the role of physiotherapists working with these athletes is broad. The physios assist the athletes and team in various components of their journey from injury prevention, treating acute injuries, post-surgical recovery, return to play and even in day-to-day recovery from training. As with any patient, a physio in this role works together with the athletes towards their goals which in this case is usually returned to play in the next big tournament.

You don’t need to be a world-class athlete to benefit from physiotherapy. Many amateurs pull muscles, get sprains among other sports-related injuries whilst playing a sport or simply keeping fit.

Sports are physical activities, and when things get physical, there is potential for injury. Overuse and acute sprain and strain injuries are the most common. An overuse injury results from excessive wear and tear on the body, especially in areas subject to repeated activity. The major joints of the body such as ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist joints are the most prone to overuse injuries. A strain injury is where fibres in a muscle or tendon tear as a result of overstretching. A sprain injury involves the overstretching and tearing of ligaments. 

Many sports injuries can be avoided by suitable conditioning, sufficient warm up, wearing appropriate footwear and using correct techniques and with nearly all sports-related injuries, physiotherapy can help. 

Football Injuries

Football injuries can arise from direct trauma, overuse, environmental conditions and the physical shape of the player. Many football injuries involve the knees, ankles, shins and the groin. These injuries, while not life-threatening, may lead to more serious problems in the future if they are not properly rehabilitated, and for this reason, should be taken seriously. Not managing a minor knee injury in your twenties could lead to needing a knee replacement as early as in your forties or fifties, for example. 

Knee injuries are the most common, and very often involve the medial collateral ligament which helps to hold the knee in place. This is usually damaged by a direct blow to the outside of the knee. Some players wear braces to protect the knee, however strengthening the knee with squats can help to prevent injury.

In football, the ankle is very vulnerable to ligament sprains. As your physiotherapist, we will give you exercises to strengthen the ankles, which may help to prevent injury.

Shin splints can result from overuse or trauma. The injury starts with niggling pain on either the inside or the outside of the shin bone, and increase over time. The symptoms stop when activity ceases but the leg remains tender to the touch.The hamstrings can be strained during sprinting, just before the foot touches the ground. You may feel a sudden, sharp pain at the back of the leg and the muscles may go into spasm. There may be swelling and in severe cases, walking may be affected.

Groin strain can result from a rupture or tear in one of the adductor muscles (the muscles that bring the leg in toward the body) during sprinting or kicking a ball. Symptoms are sudden, sharp pain in the groin area, bruising or swelling and an inability to squeeze the legs together. In severe cases, walking may be difficult.

Avoiding injury is not always possible, but you can take steps to minimise the risk:

  • Keep fit by exercising regularly, eating properly and getting sufficient rest.
    Wear protective gear. Many active people do not realize that in order to be fit it takes more than just participating in sport. Not strength training and stretching properly can lead to injuries
  • Consider environmental conditions and take necessary precautions.
  • Warm-up before play and stretching after exercise will reduce the risk of injury.
  • Seek professional advice if you are having frequent injuries. You may need to modify your technique.

If you have already suffered an injury, get in touch with us here at Physio Centers of Africa and we will help you return to the field as quickly as possible! Call  0813 028 0496  for a consultation today!


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