Cumulative Soccer Injuries
Cumulative injuries are often called overuse injuries and they have become more common as children are starting to play soccer at younger ages and are playing much harder than ever before.
With various soccer leagues and numerous practices per week (sometimes two per day), children are playing soccer quite a lot.
[Please see soccer concussion information here.]
These injuries will occur over time because of excessive stress on joints, muscles and soft tissues without enough time for healing.
Youth soccer players may not notice the start of these injuries, as they begin as a small, nagging pain or ache, but can grow into a very serious, sidelining injury if they are not treated early enough.
Some of the overuse injuries that can occur in youths are detailed below.
- Achilles Tendonitis
Felt as pain in the back of the ankle, this chronic injury can lead to the complete rupture of the Achilles tendon.
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IBS)
Overuse can lead to IT band friction syndrome, which is felt as knee pain on the outside of the knee or possibly even lower.
- “Runner’s Knee” or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Soccer players have to run a lot over the course of an entire game, leading to this injury, which is one of the most common running ailments. This is felt as pain under or around the kneecap.
- Shin Splints
These are characterized by pain that is felt along the front of the leg, generally along the shinbone. This is generally thought to be caused by cumulative stress, as well as increasing the amount of soccer play quickly, instead of gradually building up.
- Stress Fractures
This is a break, or crack, in the bone of the leg caused not by trauma, but by overuse generally over a long course of time. These can take months to heal and may require surgery.
These are just some of the common chronic injuries that can occur in youths as a result of playing soccer. Most overuse injuries can be treated by taking some time off from the soccer field, alternating between hot and cold therapies and slowly easing back into the sport.
More severe overuse injuries can lead to a need for surgery or a prolonged period of rest (multiple months or more).
Prevention of overuse injuries includes:
- Adequately warming up prior to all practices and games
- Thoroughly resting in between intense practices
- Wearing proper safety gear, such as shin guards
- Backing off when any pains or aches are felt