Playing football has many benefits, however, as with all sports there is some risk of injury. According to research (Faude et al, 2013) this risk tends to increase with age throughout the age groups.
Research suggests Between 60 and 90 % of all football injuries were traumatic and about 10-40 % were overuse injuries. Most injuries (60-90 %) were located in the lower extremities with the ankle, knee and thigh being most affected.
The most common injury types were strains, sprains, and contusions (bruises).
The injuries we see the most in clinic among young footballers include:
- Ankle sprains
- Hamstring strains
- Groin strains
- Knee injuries (from bruises to cartilage and ligament injuries)
- Quadricep (thigh) bruises and strains
- ‘Growing pains’
Research suggests about half of all football incurred injuries led to an absence from sport of less than 1 week, one third resulted in an absence between 1 and 4 weeks, and 10 to 15 % of all injuries were severe (including, at the extreme, an anterior cruciate ligament tear which can lead to over 9 months out of football).
It is important to see an experienced and Chartered Sports Physio as soon as possible after an injury to ensure:
- Correct diagnosis, treatment and management
- That the injury correctly repairs and does not return when the child resumes playing football and/ or give long term issues
Treatment for most acute injuries sustained during playing football includes:
- PRICE – protect, rest, ice, compression, elevation
- Rehabilitation – range of movement exercises and strengthening
- Advice on gradual return to play
- Analysis of training amount and type, addition of regular strength training if needed, modifying training amount to ensure full recovery and limit risk of future issues.
The timing and exact nature of these interventions depends on the injury sustained and the individual player and, as such, we would recommend you always consult a Sports Physio.
Treatment of overuse injuries (often referred to as ‘growing pains’) is similar but may also include more analysis of the child’s biomechanics, strength and training routine to try to identify why the issue has occurred and what can be done to resolve things and get the child back to playing football.