6 Less-Common Soccer Injuries to Avoid

There is a lot written on common soccer injuries and possible methods of prevention. For example, the fitter and more skilled players are the least injured. But there are other injuries that dont get the same mention as the more common ankle and knee sprains, contusions and strained muscles. And a lot of these are preventable with only a measure of common sense.

Fractures of the radius in young goalkeepers. A British hospital reported on 21 fractures of the distal radius (wrist end of the bone on the thumb side of the forearm). The keepers were between 6 and 15 years of age. In taking the history of the injury, the doctors were smart enough to ask about the size of the ball used when injured and the age of the player who kicked the ball. When the keeper was under 12, 11 of the 14 fractures involved contact with an adult, size 5 ball. Over one-fifth of the injuries came from a ball that was kicked by an adult. The implications are obvious; play with an age-appropriate ball and keep adults from shooting a full-size ball on a young goalie.

Degloving injury of the finger. You have all seen this set-up. Before the first game of the day, someone has to put up the nets. In most parks, the goals have hooks to loop the nets over, and someone is out there jumping to hook the nets. Imagine what might happen if someone jumps and their ring catches on the hook and gravity is a whole lot stronger than the finger. Now can you picture the concept of a "degloving injury"? I thought you could. How to prevent this? Its obvious; get a chair or stepladder. Dont take the short cut and remove rings. Give the assist to the chair.

Osteoarthritis of the hip. These next two are more for the retired player who had a pretty long and competitive career; not the casual parent coaching their childs team. If you look around, you might find a number of retired players who seem to be too young to have hip arthritis or a hip replacement. Go to a national meeting and see two coaches in their 50's talking in the lobby and you dont know if they are exchanging strategy tips or talking about their total hip operations. By current estimates, the prevalence of hip arthritis in retired soccer players is about three times what would be expected in the population of similar age.

Osteoarthritis of the neck. If arthritis can happen in one place, maybe it can happen in another. Numerous publications out of Scandinavia, Japan, and Europe show X-rays of retired soccer players with bone spurs and other evidence of arthritis of the neck vertebra. Now there is some concern about whether heading the ball is to blame for cognitive deficits in some players, but perhaps the concern is focused a little too far north. Games are inherently risky and some of the results dont show up until later. Ask any retired professional athlete and they will tell you they live with problems associated with their game. Recently, Sports Illustrated did quite a long article about disabilities former athletes live with.

Footballers ankle. This is a curious little development in the ankle of soccer players. In a couple of bones around the complex geometry of the ankle, a bone spur develops that can lead to pain when performing an instep kick. It is found right at the top of the instep. Why should this hurt? This spur can be right under the tendon that leads to the big toe. Perform an instep kick and the ball compresses the tendon onto this sharp little spur on the underlying bone, leading to pain. No one is really sure why this develops.

Goalpost-induced head and neck injuries. I know what you're thinking: Players running on goal and being injured when colliding with the posts. What I am mentioning, however, occurs away from games, when young kids are unsupervised, playing on unsecured goals. A goal tips over and crushes the head/neck of a child. A number of fatalities have happened over the years. Prevention is obvious: Secure the goals and dont let kids play on goals. This is an injury/fatality that adults can prevent.

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