GK Joints: How to Protect Them With Conditioning & Our Jerseys
Oct 25, 2023
No one takes the fall on the pitch like a goalkeeper does. We mean that in a figurative sense, because there’s so much pressure put on the keeper to shut down the attack. But we also mean that in the literal sense too—diving, leaping, and falling is just part of a goalie's job description, more so than any other position.
And that’s why joint injuries are an occupational hazard. At some point, any serious keeper will have days when their joints ache, and unfortunately for some, that could mean injuries. But we’ve got a few tricks to help you reduce the risk of joint injuries, especially upper body ones. Be sure to keep them up your sleeves.
Upper body injuries GK susceptible
As we said above, it’s part of a goalie’s job to be an acrobat on the pitch. Of course, all those shot-blocking leaps can be tough on the joints, especially the shoulders. Some of the most common goalkeeper injuries are shoulder injuries, and it goes without saying that they can hurt like heck.
Common GK shoulder injuries
- Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury - These involve injuries where the collarbone and shoulder girdle attach. They usually occur from a single hard impact.
- Glenohumeral joint injury - These injuries affect the shoulder ball and socket joint. Impacts and even repetitive throwing of the ball can trigger these injuries.
- Clavicle Fractures - Although rare, it’s possible to fracture the clavicle (collarbone) if goalies suffer an extreme impact, or land awkwardly.
- Elbow injuries - From hyperextension to fractures, goalkeepers can injure their elbows, whether it's from landing awkwardly, with outstretched hands or just the repetitive stress of diving and throwing the ball.
- Bruises - On the milder end of the spectrum, keepers can get bruises from constantly landing on the shoulders. They’re easier to treat, but a nuisance nonetheless.
Some keepers are more susceptible to these injuries based on their playing style, body type and other factors. But any goalkeeper can reduce their risk of shoulder injury by taking some practical steps.
FIFA 11+ Protection protocol for the shoulders
If you’ve read our blog before, you’re probably familiar with the FIFA 11+ warmup drills by now. They’re a series of neuromuscular workouts that train the nervous system and leg muscles to fire more effectively. The goal of this is to reduce the risk of injury
But there’s another FIFA 11+ program out there too, which - you guessed it—is for your shoulders. The FIFA 11+ Shoulder Injury Prevention program works under the same principle as its leg version. The exercises in the program teach neuromuscular control, so that the muscles and joints of the upper body can withstand rigorous goalkeeping movements.
The exercises are divided into three parts. The first consists of basic warm-up exercises, which prep the muscles and stimulate blood flow. The second involves exercises that improve strength and balance in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger muscles. The third part introduces more advanced workouts that help build overall core strength and muscular control.
Incorporating these workouts into your training regimen can potentially reduce the risk of some shoulder injuries. Ideally, you should begin a practice session with the FIFA 11+ workouts, because they prime the body for the more intense drills that you’ll perform later on.
Wear Impact Protection Jerseys
There’s another way to protect goalies against shoulder injuries—”shock-absorbing” soccer jerseys. You don’t really hear a term like this much in the soccer world, but you can find gear like this. These aren’t your typical soccer jerseys. We’re talking about tops that contain padding that reduce the force of landing on the ground.
These undershirts contain a two-piece elbow padding that reduces impact injuries to the joint. They also reduce the occurrence of cuts and bruising. Also, the shoulders and ribs contain pads that absorb impact forces, reducing the risk of bruises, cuts and tissue damage when diving.
ExoShield Gladiator Jerseys
These top-layer jerseys come with impact-reducing pads in the elbows. They can absorb up to 90% of forces sustained from dives, leaps and collisions with other players. They also can bend and flex, so there’s no restriction of movement.
One Less Burden On a Goalie’s Shoulders
Goalkeepers need unwavering focus and fearlessness on the pitch, regardless of the pressure placed on them to shut down goals. That part of the game will never change.
However, they can lower the risk of sustaining shoulder (and other upper body) injuries that come with the position. The right soccer protective gear and conditioning drills are a solid line of defense against these injuries.
Speaking of conditioning drills, we will dig more into the FIFA 11+ shoulder injury program in an upcoming post. We’ll take a deeper look at the research behind the exercises, and how they protect soccer players from shoulder issues.
Looking to reduce the risk of shoulder and elbow injuries as a goalkeeper? Browse through our selection of impact-reducing undershirts and jerseys to keep injuries on the sidelines.