Soccer is a popular year-round sport in the greater St. Louis area. For youth players, injury prevention never takes a day off.
Soccer can cause a variety of injuries, including concussions, but injuries to the ankle and knee are most common, according to Terra Blatnik, MD, a Washington University pediatric sports medicine specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“Ankle injuries can occur from a direct kick to the joint or by rolling it awkwardly while running or kicking,” she says. “Knee injuries can happen from a direct blow from another player’s knee, taking an awkward step in pursuit of the ball, or landing after a header or save.”
4 Steps to Stay on the Field
Follow these steps to help prevent soccer injuries:
- Get the right gear. That includes fitted cleats, shin guards and a mouth guard.
- Learn proper technique. It’s important for your child to learn how to properly head the ball to prevent concussion. Strong core, hip and quad muscles can help her land safely and reduce the chance of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the knee, Dr. Blatnik says.
- Prepare to play. Ensure your child warms up and hydrates before every practice and match, and stretches afterward.
- Don’t overdo it. Encourage your child to play other sports throughout the year to prevent overuse injuries from soccer.
The Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Young Athlete Center offers free injury prevention programs for soccer and other sports! Visit StLouisChildrens.org/SportsClass to schedule. A safe playing field is an important part of preventing soccer injuries. Be sure your child’s field is level and free of holes, sticks, leaves and equipment. Goals should be padded to protect players’ heads and legs and secured in the ground to prevent them from tipping over.