Football has one of the highest injury rates.
Mildred Austria provides some insight into football injuries and how they are working to reduce them.
When thinking about the sport most linked to injuries, your mind might jump to boxing or any close contact sport. The sport that has people turning up to the emergency department the most is cycling - that is according to the Insurance Information Institute. Football comes in 7th, but some of the reasons included in the study are activities rather than sports. Take those out, and it comes in 4th. Football is a fast-paced sport that requires agility, flexibility, and incredible ability.
How Footballers Try To Prevent Injury
Football is a sport that is harsh on various muscles and joints in the body. Luckily, footballers have access to world-class dieticians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, and doctors – all of which are expertly trained to fine-tune the bodies of these professional athletes. Footballers have regular sports massages, mobility sessions, physiotherapy sessions, and they maintain their fitness to protect their bodies.
Strength and mobility exercises are essential. The more agile and flexible a footballer is, the less likely they will experience groin, calf, and hamstring injuries.
Football will always be a sport linked to high injury rates. If an injury is not self-inflicted by a footballer, you can bet that another play will stick their boot in and do some damage. Still, that does not stop them from throwing their all into every tackle.
Recently, this topic of player welfare has come back under closer scrutiny. Fans who purchase Liverpool football tickets, for instance, want to see the best players on the field. Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson – the faithful Reds want to see these stars be at the peak of their powers when they step out onto the field. It is an entertainment sport.
Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool coach, was quick to criticise the new refereeing mandate which encourages referees to "let the game flow" and not call fouls on specific actions, which would have been deemed so last season. He worries that it will mean that more dangerous tackles happen, and harmful contact will be made. All of football will be looking on to see if anything changes.
Let us explore some of the common football injuries and how they happen, and some examples of the most brutal footballing injuries in recent years.
The Common Footballing Injuries
The most common type of football injury is not as brutal as it might seem: a hamstring strain. Hamstring strain is so common because of the lunges, sprints, and stretches players make during the game. Tight hamstrings are a recipe for disaster, and cramping is a real problem towards the end of a full 90 minutes.
Another sprain that can be a pain is in the ankle. It is so easier for footballers to sprain their ankles because of rapid changes in directions, awkward movements, and running on uneven surfaces. As the ligaments that hold the joints together become overstretched — for example, if a player rolls their ankle — they strain and become extremely painful. Recovery can take weeks.
Third on the list is the infamous Anterior Cruciate Ligament (or ACL as it is more commonly known). This pesky ligament is located in the knee and is one of the main stabilisation components, connecting your femur to your tibia. Sudden changes in direction are the primary cause of an ACL injury, and they are a nightmare to recover – often, cases require surgical intervention.
By far, out of the three injuries mentioned, the worst recovery is that of an ACL injury. A complete ACL tear, an injury many players have experienced over the year, has experienced, will require surgical intervention. Reconstructive surgeries aim to, well, reconstruct the ACL back to its former glory, which by the way, it will never be. Once the ACL tears, the knee will never be 100% again.
That is not to say recovery will not be remarkable – but it can take up to a year. Most players only experience a minor tear of the ACL, which can be repaired with hot and cold therapies, physiotherapy, and rest. Depending on the severity of the damage — if it is not a complete tear — some players will have to spend weeks out of action.
The Worst Footballing Injury In The Last Few Years
Some football teams have had more bad luck than others when it comes to sporting injuries. Liverpool has officially taken the crown for the most player injuries and illnesses, with players taking a combined total of 1032 days so far. As it stands, Thiago Alcantara is out because of a calf injury he sustained, and last year they lost Van Dijk, Gomez, and Matip to season-ending injuries early in the campaign.
Football is a gladiator-style game with players running full force at each other to win the ball. It is expected there is contact and that there is an element of risk. However, how much risk is something authorities may have to manage, adjusting laws to reflect more concern for player welfare.
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About the Author
Mildred Austria is a freelance journalist.