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In June 2020 we should have been looking forward to the spectacle of Euro 2020, but it’s sadly not happening. This has led to many of us going for a good old kick around down the park in a bid to get our football fix - and to try and keep off those unwanted lockdown pounds. 
 
As many of us have found out, with increased exercise comes increased risk of injury, particularly to those of us who don’t usually partake in such activities. 
 
So with that in mind we’ll briefly look at some of the most common football injuries, examining one in particular which has ruined many great careers. 
 
As you can imagine in a sport which makes heavy use of the lower half of the body, leg injuries are among the most common, although that by no means lets the upper half off the hook! Sprains and strains occur frequently and can also be quite severe, even requiring surgery in some instances. The dreaded “ACL” (anterior cruciate ligament) is a common example when it is torn. Other common injuries include shin splints, patellar tendinitis, and achilles tendinitis. Finally one of the most common injuries that we will look at a bit more is the good old hamstring strain, or “pulled hammy” in Sunday league terms. 

Is it a bad injury? 

Well that all depends on the severity. As is the case for many injuries, muscle strains are graded in 3 categories in order to assess the severity. 
 
Grade 1 is minor damage and causes minimal loss of strength and motion. Grade 2 is more extensive damage involving more muscle fibres. 
 
Grade 3 is a complete rupture and will inhibit any movement. 
 
The very nature of the game which requires players to rapidly change pace and direction at any point and heavy sprinting work means it’s a rather common injury. Most issues occur when a player is sprinting, which increases the tension in the muscles. 
 
In general a player will be back within a few weeks but occasionally the injury can have a longer lasting effect on a player’s acceleration and even alter their style of play as a result. A player who based their game on speed could well have to beef up their strength in turn. 
 
It can even have a negative psychological impact. A player can be much less likely to push full sprint after such an injury, so it would always be advisable to build back to fitness under the advice of a sports therapist, physiotherapist, or personal trainer. 

How do I know if I strained my hamstring? 

Most players often describe the feeling as a “pull” “pop” or a “twang” in the hamstring, which is the back of the upper leg. This is accompanied by a pain in the area and an inability to be able to sprint or even jog or to strike a ball with the affected leg. Ouch! 

How to treat and prevent the injury 

Prevention is always better than cure, so as always, a good warm up routine involving dynamic stretching followed by static stretching is key. These should be included with some sports-specific routines such as short sprints starting slower and building up and a passing and shooting routine, starting with shorter passes and shots building up to more powerful and longer range passes and strikes in order to warm the muscles up gradually. 
 
It’s also advisable to do some cone dashes and weaves from side to side in order to mimic the movements common in the game. In order to treat the injury as soon as it’s suspected or detected then the player would need to stop playing and follow the “RICE” procedure. 
 
This means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Once the severity is determined, a rest period will follow which can take anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months. Strengthening exercises and stretches can also be recommended. 

Who else has suffered this injury? 

Those of us of a certain age will be able to cast their minds back to the world cup of ‘98 and remember a young Michael Owen announcing himself on the world stage with a blistering display of pace and sharpness in a game vs Argentina. Fast forward a year and a serious hamstring injury would change Owen’s game for the rest of his career. In the modern game Owen would likely have received better surgery and saved a lot of injuries because the science behind treatment has advanced since then. 
 
Owen states: “I basically ran on 2 muscles on my right and 3 on my left”. You have 3 muscles which make up the hamstring, biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus, which severely impacted his ability to sprint. Consequently, we probably never saw Owen truly reach his full potential. 
 
If you’re a football player or keen sportsperson and you’ve struggled with hamstring strains or want tips on how to avoid them, then get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help. 
Tagged as: football, injury, soccer
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