It’s preseason and we’re starting to see some common football injuries coming into clinic. These patients are at risk of binning the season before it’s even started – so here are some common football pitfalls and how to avoid them.
So we all know that one guy on the team who can barely tie his own laces, but it might not be a lack of intelligence holding him back. Hamstring flexibility is commonly low in players who don’t cross-train out of season, or who don’t work on their stretching.
Cold muscle is more likely to be brittle and tear, so the short-cut to avoiding this injury is a proper warm up.
I recommend dynamic warm ups that work the joints in multiple full range movements, to gently stretch and prepare the muscles.
To dynamically warm your hamstrings before the game begins, keep a straight lower back and space in your waist, as you swing your leg from the hip forward and back. Go easy to avoid straining the lumbar spine.
Similar to a hamstring tear, this injury can occur higher up in the muscle, at the tendinous join – and so result in a lengthier recovery time. To avoid time on the injury bench make sure you’re stretching deep into the adductor muscle group of the thigh before all matches and training.
Circling the hip is a good place to start, but side lunges are the best way to get into these muscles, with an added weight, or just body weight on the pitch-side. Then try some kicks that come out from the side to cross the front of the body to work the hip joint into it’s full lateral range.
The final blow to many a football career, the ACL tear is the knee injury players dread the most. Although reconstruction surgeries are common, and relatively successful – the time away from the pitch, risk, and extensive rehabilitation are best avoided if possible.
While some of these injuries are the result of receiving a bad tackle, I have seen players sustain these by doing little more than tripping up over their own feet.
It’s because of this that I recommend fast coordination drills as part of a warm up session; particularly before match play. Getting a speed-ladder to run drills, some miniature hurdles and even skipping have been shown to improve speed and coordination over time – so get practicing!
And of course, if you’re lucky enough to sustain one of these injuries – consult your osteopath for advice on your best route to recovery!