From First Kicks to the World Cup: Rehab for Common Soccer-Related Injuries

World CupBillions of fans will focus on Brazil from June 12 to July 13 as elite athletes from all corners of the globe gather to compete in the world’s most anticipated sporting event – the World Cup.

Consequently, kids and parents alike will have heightened dreams of soccer stardom. Although few such dreams will be realized, soccer continues to grow in popularity, no doubt due to the fact that children of all ages and abilities may play. Leagues in the Lehigh Valley range from recreational to highly competitive travel teams. Even very young children can run, dribble a ball and enjoy soccer. Meanwhile, the players get excellent aerobic exercise and improve their balance, agility and coordination.

Despite soccer’s advantages, injuries are common. These often include bruises and strains involving the knees, lower legs and ankles. Initial treatment involves applying ice and resting until healed. To reduce the risk of injury, always wear quality shin guards and properly fitted soccer cleats while playing.

One of soccer’s more serious injuries is the tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which can occur when a player makes a cut, lands from a jump or is hit by another player. This results in a "buckling" sensation in the knee because the ACL’s major role is to stabilize the knee. Often surgery and extensive rehabilitation is needed.

Concussions are another injury that can occur when a player incorrectly heads the ball or when two players running at rapid speed collide. Athletes should never return to play before a concussion is fully healed because a second head injury could cause significant and permanent cognitive impairment. To treat post-concussion symptoms, Good Shepherd provides an interdisciplinary team, including physiatry, neuropsychology, and physical, occupational and speech therapies. This medical team designs individualized treatment programs specific to each athlete’s symptoms to safely return him or her to play.   

When treating serious soccer-related injuries, Good Shepherd therapists focus on controlling pain, swelling and inflammation. While directing the player to rest the affected area so it can heal, we design a therapy regimen that minimizes pain and preserves/restores joint motion. Next, we help the player regain strength, flexibility, muscular balance and coordination, as well as provide sport-specific drills so the athlete can regain the skills and conditioning needed to return to the field.

Fortunately, the risk of injury is far outweighed by the fun and fitness benefits of playing soccer. So get out there and enjoy the game ­– you might even get to the World Cup someday. 

For more information or to schedule an evaluation by a physical therapist, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us

Find a Good Shepherd Physical Therapy location near you.

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