Luckily, I was able to get the PDF file from my colleague Guido Seerden which was a 1-year prospective study of injuries in women’s soccer at the elite level (German Bundesliga). The results were not surprising, however, they specifically noted every injury that occurred and categorized by severity. Minor (1-7 days), moderate (8-30 days), and severe (+30 days) were the categories and the duration it took to return to play. Here were the graphs that I found interesting…
Percentage of Injuries by Region
With the knee and ankle being the most affected area, we need strategies to help prevent injuries.
Match vs. Practice
Knowing how profound these injuries are (especially since ACL’s can end player’s careers if they are towards the end of them), we need try to keep athletes healthy and keep performance high. How?
We can teach athletes how to absorb or decelerate force through proper movement training and landing (single/double leg).
We also like to incorporate mini-band walks in various directions (forward, backward, laterally) to help athletes learn to strengthen the hips, which when also done properly, keeps the pelvis stable. Notice in the video my hips and shoulders move across, a typical compensation will see these areas “hike” up and down.
I have mentioned single leg strength as our primary method of training even though bilateral training has benefits, we will always stick with single leg. Posterior chain strength and control is important since this chain is noticeably weaker in soccer athletes. Learn to love these…
1-Leg DB SLDL
Slideboard Curl Variations
What the study also shed light on was when injuries occured during the match, noting that as fatigue sets in, the incidence of injury increases. In this study, after the 60th minute was when they saw this increase.
It’s no surprise the popularity of GPS and tracking players physiological responses before and after games and practices. Tracking has become extremely important because it can help coaches understand how their players bodies are reacting to the stressors of the games and practices and can help monitor whether or not these players should go “hard” at practice or to take a step off the gas pedal for that day. I would not know anything about the tracking systems but it is maybe one reason how players can help reduce the risk of injury in the later stages of games or the season and also why specific conditioning is needed for these athletes.