Football Injuries

As the football year starts to get towards the business end of the season I thought it would be a good idea to explain some common injury terms that get thrown around. It’s easy for commentators to use words like ‘ACL’, ‘PCL’, ‘Corky’ or ‘off the bone’ and not really have to justify any understanding for what these injuries actually involve or mean. They normally leave us with puzzled looks on our faces and we do not fully understand the complications of a player’s injury.

When playing football the knee is a common site of injury. It is structurally super important to all movements of the lower limb. The knee joins the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are the other bones that make the knee joint. Tendons connect the knee bones to the leg muscles that move the knee joint. Ligaments join the knee bones and provide stability to the knee. The common ligaments that you will hear about include:

  • The anterior cruciate ligament prevents the femur from sliding backward on the tibia (or the tibia sliding forward on the femur). Injury will occur when a player plants their foot and tries to change direction suddenly.
  • The posterior cruciate ligament prevents the femur from sliding forward on the tibia (or the tibia from sliding backward on the femur). Injury will occur from an external source most likely falling on the knee hyper extending it backwards.
  • The medial and lateral collateral ligaments prevent the femur from sliding side to side. Injury will most likely occur in bending and twisting motions as well as lateral external force onto the knee joint.

As I have previously worked for a football club the most frequently seen low levelinjury is that of a ‘corky’. This is a collision based incident where an elbow, knee or hip bone from another player is forced into the belly of your muscle. The impact to the muscles causes significant bruising and bleeding both intramusculary and also between the muscle and bones. This leads to pain, decreased range of motion and decreased function of the muscle.

Muscle strains and tears are common however what has been reported lately in the Jobe Watson or Cyril Rioli circumstances is where the tendon that connects a certain muscle to the bone has been torn. These injuries are just a more severe strain or tear which has led to a connective tissue rupture. There are many reasons to why these injuries occur:

  • Muscle tightness. Tight muscles are vulnerable to damage. Football players should follow closely to rehabilitative programs that heavily feature stretching and massage.
  • Muscle imbalance. When one muscle group is much stronger than its opposing muscle group, the imbalance can lead to an injury. This frequently happens with the hamstring muscles. The quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh are usually more powerful. During high-speed activities, the hamstring may become fatigued faster than the quadriceps. This fatigue can lead to a strain or tear.
  • Poor conditioning. If your muscles are weak, they are less able to cope with the stress of exercise and are more likely to be injured.
  • Muscle fatigue. Fatigue reduces the energy-absorbing capabilities of muscle, making them more susceptible to injury.

Also what we will see a lot more of in the next coming week is soft tissue injuries.The football season is a long and tiring one for players and with increased running demands being put on them it has a become a war of attrition. Who wins that war will be the team that can manage to keep its best players out on the park for the longest!

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