Injuries in sports are inevitable and more so in a contact sport such as football where 22 players are flying their kicks to get one ball into the net. But what would hurt more than injuries is to sit on sidelines and miss the match? Because at the time when you are out of the team and practice, there is someone else who is working hard to cement his/her own place in the team.
Champions are decided by both participation in-game and preparation before the game. So including the injury prevention program in the preparation or training is the basic strategy to reduce sports injuries and enhance the performance. Here are a few things one needs to do to reduce injuries in football.
Don't be a Movie Superstar
Fitness is a routine/fuel of sportsperson. Maintain fitness even when you are not playing. Try to be in shape and at your optimal fitness level. Consistent performances are always rewarded in sports than the occasional flashy appearances. You can do the following things to maintain fitness-
- Take time out to maintain good physical conditions.
- Keep Balanced Diet
- Perform Aerobics and Flexibility exercise
- Do Functional or Dynamic Strengthening
Conditioning for the game-
This is a training method which is especially helpful for competitive players. It’s a method to try and practice all possible scenarios to improve the physical attributes necessary for enhancing football skills and reduce possibilities of injury. Strengthening, agility, and speed training, yoga, sprinting and jogging are few methods combined to develop these drills to mimic various match scenarios.
Dealing with On-field Injuries-
If any player gets injured during the match or during practice keep First Aid ready on the ground. If the injury involves bleeding then first clean the wound and apply a bandage to the wound. The player must be taken to the hospital immediately. If the injury is sprain or strain then the best approach is the “P.O.L.I.C.E”.
- P- Protection to the injured area by either applying for crepe bandage/support, rest or minimizing movement.
- OL – Optimal Loading is the method of loading or starting gentle movement of the body part(this phase must be done as per health professional guidance after all investigations only)
- I – Ice. Apply ice to the affected area to reduce swelling and pain relief.
- C- Compression helps to maintain the injured part in position and prevent excessive movement.
- E- Elevation will induce a reduction in swelling and thus a faster recovery.
Return to the game must be based on medical advice only. Train well gradually and complete the stages of rehabilitation. Start playing only after the proper strengthening of the muscles and joints involved. Getting a re-injury because of lack of rehabilitation or if you are not 100 percent will further delay your return to the game.
Get your “Right “Gears On-
We all know that the best of the craftsmen would fail if given the wrong tools. Similarly, equipment play a very important role in injury prevention.
- Right fitting shoes made of a material suitable for long spans of play and practice.
- Proper stabilization of ankle supports either built-in or external to prevent ankle injury due to faulty landing.
- Cleats should be either molded or with ribbed soles. (It should be based on the surface you play or practice and the amount of traction you need) shoes with the wrong cleat can lead to serious injuries to ligaments of the ankle or knee.
- Don’t use worn-out shoes or torn shoes as they will predispose you to get injured.
Use a shin guard to protect injury to lower legs. Ideally should go for guards having shock-absorbing quality.
Goalkeepers should use proper gloves, knee guard and mouth guards. Ball size should be according to the age of participants and it should be checked regularly for air pressure and its water-absorbing capacity.
Staying hydrated, avoiding overtraining, taking appropriate diet and rest are other important factors that help immensely in preventing injuries.