10 Tips To Prevent and Treat Soccer-Related Knee Injuries

Dec 15, 2020

Unfortunately, knee injuries are a fairly common occurrence among soccer players. They can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common include quickly stopping, pivoting or changing direction while running, landing awkwardly after a jump, and colliding with another player. Sometimes even a seemingly normal action can result in an injury. Whatever the cause, it’s important to know how to deal with these types of injuries.

The following tips are brought to you by Juneau’s most trusted chiropractor at Better Health. Chiropractors often help to treat and prevent all kinds of joint and muscle-related injuries common in soccer. Understanding what does and doesn’t work is vital to maintaining your health as an athlete or the parent of an athlete. Read on to discover 10 tips to prevent and treat soccer knee injuries.

1. Quadriceps Exercises

Maintaining strong quadriceps can help you prevent knee injury, especially the dreaded ACL tear or strain. Here is one of the best quad-heavy exercises to consider. 

  • Bulgarian Split-Squats
    • Place the toes of one foot face-down on a bench positioned behind you, the other foot on the floor just ahead. 
    • Keeping your back straight, bend your front leg, squatting so the thigh is parallel (or as near as possible) to the floor. 
    • Come back up to the starting position. 
    • Add weights when you’re comfortable with the movement, and do an equal amount of reps on each leg. 

2. Hip Abductor Exercises

The hips actually have a lot to do with the movement of the knee and preventing injury in soccer. Weak hip abductors can cause knee injury by allowing the thigh to twist inward as you run, which in turn weakens the knee joint. Chances are you won’t even know that this is happening until it’s too late. However, working out your hip abductors with this exercise can help. 

  • Lateral Resistance Band Walk
    • Place a resistance band around both your legs near the ankles.
    • Get into a half-squat and walk in a line laterally, keeping your feet apart and the resistance band tight. 
    • Walk both left and right for best results.

3. Proprioceptive Training

Proprioception is how the body tells the brain where you are in space at any given time. It’s why you don’t have to look down at your feet to walk or ride a bike. Any time your movement involves a joint (which is pretty much every time), proprioception sends signals to the brain telling you the position of that joint and the associated limb. 

Studies have shown that proprioceptive training can help reduce injury among athletes. Most of these exercises involve standing on one leg while doing something that affects your balance, like tossing a medicine ball or moving your arms into different positions. You can also make things more difficult by closing your eyes and standing on one foot, or standing on a balance ball. 

4. Hydration and Diet

Drinking enough water is essential for peak athletic performance and injury prevention. When the muscles aren’t properly hydrated, they don’t function as well. If you don’t drink enough water, try downloading a reminder app on your phone. 

Like water, food is also a big part of protecting the body from injury. Foods with excess sugar, trans fats, or preservatives can cause inflammation, which can cause a whole host of other problems. Eating a diet rich in whole foods can help you stay healthy, strong, and active.

5. A Proper Time For Stretching

Stretching at the proper times can help ensure muscle function and power. Most people stretch before a game or a workout, but it’s also important to do the same afterward. Take 10 or 15 minutes to warm down and stretch so your muscles don’t become tight or sore. Consistent and proper stretching helps to prevent injury, as well. 

6. Wear Proper Soccer Protective Gear

The gear you wear is vitally important in preventing injuries. Cleats, of course, are essential for quick and accurate movements on the field. They can also keep you from slipping when you change direction abruptly. Soccer headgear, leg guards, shin guards, and goalkeeper gloves can also protect you from injury on the field. 

7. Don’t Overtrain

Overtraining is increasingly a cause for concern among youth athletes. The desire is to play more than one sport during the course of a year, which can lead to increased injury. Often, these are repetitive stress injuries, but if the body doesn’t have time to properly heal, overtraining can lead to more serious issues. 

There’s nothing wrong with staying fit in the offseason, but playing physical, competitive sports year-round will catch up to you, no matter how young or fit. 

8. Use RICE for Recovery

For minor knee injuries, you can help your recovery by implementing RICE. This is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The importance of rest should be clear. Ice, a compression wrap, and elevation all work in different ways to keep swelling down and promote healing. 

9. Don’t Rush Recovery 

One of the mistakes that people often make is trying to get back on the field too soon. If the injury is not fully healed, this can lead to an even more serious injury. It’s always a good idea to see a doctor for an okay to resume strenuous physical activity. If it’s a minor injury, waiting until the knee feels normal again is best. But even then, it’s best to ease back into activity. 

10. Build Up To Previous Levels

Whether you’ve been out with a soccer knee injury for 2 weeks or 2 months, it’s important to take it a little slow. You’ll need to build back up to previous levels of speed and agility on the joint, and this involves gradual training practices. 

You can start small during your workouts and progress up to faster movements, more weight, and higher intensity. You want to make sure your injured knee feels good the whole time, and to back off a bit if it doesn’t. Sometimes, an injury just needs more time to heal.

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