April 14, 2020
Modern professional soccer is a precarious trade- from an occupational perspective injury rates are 1000-fold higher among professional soccer players than other high-risk professions such as construction and industrial work. The predominant injuries among elite soccer players are muscular in origin with groin and hamstring injuries amounting to 26.8% of injuries. Joint/ligament sprains comprise approximately 15-20% of injuries in elite football, and mainly occur in the foot, ankle and knee joints with ankle sprains accounting for 10.6% of all soccer injuries. Contusion injuries to the leg and knee amount to nearly 10% of soccer injuries.
So how severe are these injuries from a time-loss perspective? Hamstring and groin muscles tend to recover quickly, and the injured parties are back on the pitch in an average of 16 days and 2 weeks respectively. Players with ankle injuries are back playing in an average of 11 days. The respite period is lengthier for knee contusion injuries. Players suffering injury to the cartilage or meniscus can expect an average of 3 months before they are back playing at full capacity.
Then the added complication of recurrence comes into play. Previous injury is always a leading predisposing factor to injury, residual deficit from the original injury such as muscle tone and weakness, scar tissue, biomechanical fault and neuromuscular inhibition may all be contributing factors to recurrence. Similarly, inadequate injury management is likely to precede recurrence. Hamstring and groin injurieshave an average of 16% and 20% recurrence rates respectively. Ankle ligaments revisit injured soccer players 13% of the time and knee cartilage is the most severe reoffender with an attached recurrence rate of 37%.
In this blog series we will examine the three most common injuries in elite soccer; hamstring strains, ankle sprains, and knee ligament injuries.