No matter what level you are playing at injury is always a risk. But at all levels there are a few basic things that we all do, or don’t do, that can potentially lead to injury or extend the healing time. We also tend to not take care of ourselves so well because of the risk of falling behind our competitors and teammates alike in terms of skill. But here are a few things you should keep in mind when avoiding injury and recovering from one. A lot of these are no brainers but are very important all the same.
Before You Get An Injury
#5: Don’t under sleep and over train.
We all know what it is like to basically be dragging through the end of a season after playing 2-4 games a week and having practice basically every day. I even know some of us even play in multiple leagues each season. I also know that some of these players are very prone to injury due to this not stop soccer schedule. The human body isn’t designed to withstand the trials we ask it to go through each game on a consistent every day basis so over working your body is a very real thing. Sleeps is the most important thing in these times so get as much as you can afford, take it easy in your time off the field and care for your body.
#4: Don’t skimp on water.
Keeping the body hydrated is very important for muscle health. If you aren’t sufficiently hydrated it can make you more suseptable to muscle cramps, spasms and strains. It is also bad for overall health and body function.
#3: Don’t go into a game without a warm up.
Muscles are in a way like rubber bands. If they are cold and you stretch them too quick they can snap. Take the time to warm your muscles up and prepare it for the non-stop and go action that is soccer. Also stretch lightly before and stretch a bit more thoroughly after you warm up.
#2: Don’t skimp on your stretching routine.
This is what lead up to my quad pull. I failed to complete my stretching routine to the best of my abilities. I of all people should know the importants of stretching. The one game I failed to follow through with my routine I ended up laid up for over a week so I could recover. Luckily it was only a mild strain but I know it could have been much worse if I hadn’t stretch at all.
#1: Don’t forget to put shinguards or necessary protective gear on.
This one is a no brainer and is actually very hard to get away with during match since refs won’t let you play without them. But during practices and pick up games it is always best to wear your shin guards. It is always better to be safe than to end up getting hobbled. Also don’t skimp on your protection. I know we all like the light and barely there feel but don’t go for the skimpy shin guards like the Nike J guard. Also if you know you are prone to certain injuries make sure you use a brace that will compensate (find shinguards at soccer.com).
When You Are Injured
#5: Don’t keep playing.
At first you may come off as a hero but in the end you might just make yourself look the fool and potentially shorten your playing career. You may be supporting your team in the meantime but in the grand scheme if you are injured worse because you stayed on then you are dragging the team down. It is better for yourself and the team if you get off and get medical attention.
#4: Don’t rush back to play after a few days rest.
I for one have extended my healing period drastically with past injuries by refusing to rest for the necessary amount of time. I know how it feels to go without soccer and it truley stinks but it is better to deal with the withdrawal symptoms in the meantime than to prolong your recovery time.
#3: Don’t use heat right after the injury occurs.
You may hate it but Ice is always the better option. Using heat too soon will increase inflammation which will in turn increase pain and hamper the healing process. Later stages heat can be used but Ice is still my personal choice because it can actually increase blood flow if done right which is good for healing.
#2: Don’t fully stretch until the healing process is almost complete
I know that a big impulse toward the middle stages of healing would be to stretch out the damaged muscle. This is something you want to hold off on until later in the later stages of healing. You don’t want to end up over stretching a ligament, tendon or increasing the size of a muscle tear. It is best to do a slow and careful stretch and only when the time is correct.
#1: Don’t over medicate
Pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs are great but they mask pain so it is sometimes hard to tell if you are ready to go or if you are completely healed. Since they reduce the feeling of pain you can’t always tell when you are doing something that is damaging your body and in turn leaving you warming the bench longer.