Soccer players young and old are ready to head out to the pitch for another action-packed and fun-filled season. The world’s most popular sport continues to grow across Canada, in particular amongst those aged 25 and under.

Soft tissue, overuse injuries, as well as knee and ankle injuries are a common problem among young players. It’s far better to prevent an injury with proper warm-up and stretching techniques, so you don’t end up rehabilitating an injury that could cost you most of the playing season.

Here are several common soccer injuries players and parents should be aware of and work hard to prevent:

  • Soft-tissue contusions (bruises) are the most common soccer injuries.
  • Overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, can occur from overtraining.
  • Fractures are relatively uncommon, accounting for 3.5% to 9% of reported injuries.
  • Knee injuries account for 26% and ankle injuries account for up to 23%. But according to the AAP, fractures occur more frequently in the upper part of the body as compared to the lower extremity.
  • “Heading” the ball showed potentially serious consequences such as cognitive loss. A study of adult players found that those who frequently “headed” the ball showed “mild to severe deficits in attention, concentration, and memory in 81% of the players tested.”
  • Eye injuries are also a common occurrence for players of all ages.
  • Soccer is the second leading cause of injuries to the mouth and teeth in sports (basketball is the leading cause).


Physiotherapy Can Help

Young players can minimize their risk of major injuries by following several simple steps.

Tips to prevent injury:

  • Ensure you have a good balance of practice time, game time, and days off to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Take the time for a good warm-up and be sure to spend time on flexibility exercises.
  • Check the pitch – make sure playing fields are well-maintained and free of hazards
  • Use mouth guards – mouth guards reduce the number of injuries to the mouth or teeth.
  • Protect your head and eyes – head and eye gear can help prevent serious injuries.
  • Shin guards – help prevent soft-tissue and other more serious injuries to the legs.
  • Play fair – rough play can injure others – playing fair and safe ensures everyone has a good time.
  • Don’t play with severe or persistent pain – minor aches and pains lasting up to
  • 48 hours are acceptable, but severe pain or difficulty walking may signal a more serious problem.
  • Consider using arch supports for comfort and for relief of minor heel or foot pain.

Chronic pain around the hip or knee joints or the lower back may be signs of more serious problems and should be checked by a physiotherapist.

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The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.

Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.

More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.

The CPA presents its educational references as a public service and for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the opinions of the CPA membership.