How to reduce soccer injuries in kids: Follow these 3 TOP TIPS!
Soccer is a sport about Passion
If you have ever been to watch a soccer game you know how emotions are overflowing as spectators cheer for their teams. If you have ever played soccer you can feel the adrenaline running through your veins as you see a player block a pass or score an amazing goal against all odds. The excitement is overwhelming.
I began playing soccer as a way to get some exercise but what I found out was that I was having way more fun than I had anticipated. The feeling of playing with and supporting your teammates is so amazing. The ability to improve your own personal skills and feel proud of yourself is so fulfilling.
But it goes without saying that any contact sport such as soccer has the potential for injuries. I myself am currently recovering from a shoulder injury from a recent fall. I am so lucky because as a physiotherapist I can identify the injury and get regular treatment while at work. One of my colleagues has been treating me a few times a week since my injury and I am now back to sport conditioning exercises. Hoping to return to play when my physiotherapist tells me I am safe to do so.
How to reduce soccer injuries in kids?
I have decided to write the blog to share some very important tips on what you can do to reduce the chance of your kids. As a physiotherapist I treat injuries from many different sports. But I am also very privileged to volunteer my time with IFSOE which is a soccer training academy here in Richmond hill. Athletes from age 10 plus attend this training academy several times a week where they learn specific soccer skills. During my time with these kids I have observed injuries as they occur and I have even treated them myself off the field.
In this blog I want to list my top 3 TIPS for parents to help reduce the chances of an injury in your kid while they are training or playing a game/tournament. I hope these are helpful and I hope you will also share them with your friends and family.
TIP #1: Warm up and Cool Down before playing soccer.
This is such an important part of training for kids. Even as a kid it is important to prepare the body for sport. Kids are not mini-adults – their bones and muscles are still growing and sometimes not at the same rate!!! That’s why we call it growing pains. This means sometimes their flexibility may be limited by these growth spurts. And this affects their mobility on and off the field. “Cold” muscles and ligaments have a higher chance of being injured so it is important to warm up before starting to play soccer.
- Start good habits early – teach your kids that warm ups are not optional but are part of “the game”. Set aside extra time to arrive early to get through the warm ups. Give them positive feedback that they are being diligent about doing
- Properly warming up will protect your child’s muscles, improve overall level of fitness and improve his/her performance that will help to reduce the chance of injuries during play
- Warm ups should include cardiovascular activity as well as dynamic stretching
What happens to the body while doing warm ups?
- Increases the core body temperature
- Increases blood flow
- Increases heart rate
- Begin sweating lightly
- Improve posture
- Increase range of motion / mobility of joints
- Improve stability of joints
How long should a warm up last?
- 10-30 minutes but depends on the athlete
- Exercises should be customised to the movements required by the sport
What should be included in a warm up?
- Focus on core stability from shoulder to hips: torso, spine, hips , shoulders
- Focus on mobility exercises – transferring movements from one area to rest of the body
- Focus on specific sport specific movements
- Focus on the child’s age, fitness level and endurance
- Take 5-30 minutes
- Use this time to bring you body back down to baseline
- Bring down your heart rate
- Decrease your sweating
- Slow down your movements
- Work on mobility of your joints
- Stretching of your muscles used for the sport
Why is it important to cool down?
- Helps to circulate the blood
- Flush lactic acid – so less chance of muscle fatigue and soreness
Which exercises are best for a Warm Up?
- Sport specific warm ups to ensure kids have enough mobility, stability and strength
TIP #2: To play soccer you need to drink and eat like a soccer player!
To play your best you need to ensure your physical body has the right amount of nutrition and you must stay hydrated. These two things will ensure you are at your top level of performance and this will help to prevent injuries.
Eat these foods to keep your soccer skills at the top!
- Fruits – 2 to 4 servings/day
- Vegetables ( 3- 5 servings/day)
- Lean proteins (chicken, fish, lentils, tofu, yoghourt, milk)
- Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil)
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates (oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread)
Drinking water will help you play your best!
If you are dehydrated you will be fatigued and so by staying hydrated you are reducing the risk of getting injured.Kids should take about 4 big sips of water every 15-20 minutes while exercising.
- Increases energy
- Improves movement
- Improves recovery
- Improves agility
- Improves thermoregulation – replacing water from sweating – so less chance for cramps, heat exhaustion/stroke
- Improves aerobic endurance
- Improves strength, power and speed
- Improves reaction time
- Improved muscle function and remove wastes from muscles
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Improves circulation of blood and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles,
- Help replace what is lost by sweating
TIP #3: To Play your best soccer you must cross train during your off season!
It is so important to continue strength and conditioning training to help your muscles be strong to protect you from injury. It makes sense that if you play the same sport all year round you are using the same muscles in the same way over and over and this can lead to overuse injuries. So as a soccer player you can choose to train to work on strengthening other muscles in the body. Your kids can work on mobility and power training. Your child can choose a sport that focuses on throwing instead of running. As your child, pick something that they find fun! They should focus on improving strength, mobility, speed, agility. This will help make them an all round stronger athlete which will improve their performance when they play soccer again during the season.
You know your body best. If you feel tired or have pain – its a good idea that you speak to your coach or your physiotherapist. Together you can decide if it is safe for you keep playing. And if you need to seek medical attention.
How to reduce soccer injuries in kids: Follow these 3 TOP TIPS!
We hope you have found this information helpful and we hope that you will share it with your friends and family. Prevention of injuries is always better than treating injuries after they have occurred.
Our highly trained Physiotherapists and Chiropractors are ready to help you stay healthy while playing or recover from an injury. Reach out to us if you need to:
ABOUT 16th Ave Chiropractic and Physiotherapy
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