With over 240 million registered players worldwide, football is certainly one of the most popular games in the world but like with any other sports, it is fraught with risks and has its share of injuries. Football is a heavy-contact sport, and despite the supports and safety precautions, injuries are a common part of the game. The combination of the size of the players, speed of play, and the physical nature of the game make football injuries quite common and sometimes gruesome.
Most football injuries affect the lower extremities, which include the groin and pelvis, hip and thigh, knee, calf, foot, and ankle. Research shows that most football injuries are caused by trauma, such as a collision with an opponent or landing awkwardly from a jump. Approximately one quarter to one-third of all football injuries are due to overuse and wear and tear and develop over a while.
Sports scientists advise that loads of rest, good dietary discipline and proper sleep can help to prevent or in some cases totally avoid the more serious injuries. Professional footballers are often warned not to play through pain as compromised muscles and tissues are more susceptible to injuries. In addition, brittle and stiff muscles will most likely snap or tear, thus warming up and cooling down is essential.
Some of the most common injuries in football include,
1. Concussions - A brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body. this occurs from a mild blow to the head, either with or without loss of consciousness and can lead to temporary cognitive symptoms. symptoms may include headache, confusion and lack of coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing in the ears, sleepiness and excessive fatigue. consciousness can also occur without direct impact to the head; a hard hit to the body could cause the head and neck to move quickly with a whiplash effect. often when a concussion occurs in football, players are advised to take time to heal, and only return to their normal routine after a doctor trained in treating concussions has evaluated them. Following these steps will protect their brain and reduce the risk of more serious, long-term issues.
2. Hamstring Strains - Hamstring injuries are common in many sports, including football. Hamstring injuries are the most prevalent muscle injury in football, and 12%-33% of athletes with a hamstring injury experience a recurrence within a year after the initial injury. Hamstrings are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip. Both functions are performed simultaneously when a player is running and significant strain is placed on the muscle group with each stride, increasing the risk of injury. Hamstring injuries are typically caused by rapid acceleration activities when running or initiating running activity. Injuries to the hamstring muscles can range from a minor strain to a major rupture. A minor strain is classified as a grade I tear, grade II tears are partial ruptures, whereas a complete rupture or tear is classified as a grade III tear. Grade III injuries most frequently occur in athletic activities such as football. Most hamstring injuries heal without surgery. Rarely, when there is a complete rupture at the ischium, or when a significant piece of Ischial bone is jerked away, surgery is necessary. After pain and swelling have been controlled and an acceptable range of motion and flexibility has been attained, a gradual strengthening program should follow. Depending on the severity of the injury, the entire rehabilitative process may take several months. Players who have had hamstring injuries include, Ousmane Dembele, Fernando Torres, Michael Owen, Neymar, and Gareth Bale.
3. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury - Not long ago, this injury was considered a death sentence to a player's career but with the innovations in medical science, players now routinely return upon rehabilitation. The ACL is a tissue that connects the thighbone to the shinbone, at the knee. Many people hear or feel a "pop" in the knee when an ACL injury occurs. the knee may swell, feel unstable and become too painful to bear weight. Depending on the severity of the ACL injury, treatment may include rest and rehabilitation exercises to help gain strength and stability or surgery to replace the torn ligament followed by rehabilitation. This injury can occur in several different ways, most notably by suddenly slowing down and changing direction (cutting), pivoting with the foot firmly planted, landing awkwardly from a jump, and receiving a direct blow to the knee or collision, such as a football tackle among many other.
Famous footballers who have at one point or the other have ACL injury are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Reuben Loftus-Cheek, Kurt Zouma, Theo Walcot, among many others.
4. Rotator Cuff Strains- Rotator cuff tears refer to partial or full tears of one or a number of the four muscles that help move the shoulder and keep the end of the long bone of the arm within the shallow socket of the shoulder. The most common torn muscle of the rotator cuff is the muscle that helps lift the arm away from the body, which is known as the supraspinatus. Rotator cuff injuries may happen with repetitive overhead use of the arm, but can also occur after suffering trauma, a fall onto the outstretched hand. Shoulder pain in soccer players usually occur due to trauma, a fall or a blow to the shoulder joint ina a tackle, overstretching (especially reaching above and overhead in goalies). This injury majorly happens to goalkeepers who have had to stretch their full-body or fall to the ground at one point or the other.
5. Achilles Tendonitis Rupture - Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles' tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. This tendon is used when you walk, run, jump or push up on your toes. The most common initial symptom of Achilles tendon rupture is a sudden snap at the lower calf, intense pain, and inability to point the foot downward. For athletes, surgery is often the first choice of treatment.
Players who have had Achilles injury include David Beckham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Laurent Koscielny among many others.