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Get Your Kicks With Soccer, Safely

soccer sports safety tips from syracuse orthopedic specialists

The excitement of Rio2016 is in the air and all eyes, including those of SOS physicians and staff, are on the American Olympic teams. As the U.S. Olympics Women’s Soccer team goes for another gold medal to follow up on their outstanding performance in 2012, amateur players everywhere are sure to want to get out to a field and kick the ball around. Soccer is an active, fun sport that is gaining popularity among girls and boys in America. The SOS physicians and staff caution that injuries can occur if you don’t play it safe. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 626,000 athletes were injured playing soccer in 2012. Common injuries include sprains and strains around the knee and ankle. Achilles tendinitis and shin splints can occur as overuse injuries, and there is always a risk for injury if players collide.

Members of the SOS Sports Medicine team have these tips to help keep injury free on the soccer field:

Prepare to Play

  • Always take time to warm up and stretch, especially your hips, knees, thighs and calves. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury.
  • Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Be sure to stretch after each game or practice to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance.

Use Appropriate Equipment

  • Wear shin guards to help protect your lower legs. Soccer tournament records show that lower leg injuries are most often caused by inadequate shin guards.
  • Wear shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats often are associated with a higher risk of injury. However, shoes with screw-in cleats should be worn when more traction is needed, such as on a wet field with high grass.
  • Use synthetic, nonabsorbent balls on wet playing fields.

Play in a Safe Environment

  • Soccer goals should be well padded and properly secured. Padding the goal decreases the incidence of head injuries when the goalie and other team members collide with the posts.
  • The playing surface must be kept in good condition. Holes on the playing field should be filled, bare spots reseeded and debris removed.
  • Pay attention to the weather conditions: In a thunderstorm, leave the field and get inside immediately. In hot weather, take sufficient water breaks. In cold weather, wear appropriate clothing, including gloves and hats. Consider shortening practices in severe temperature extremes.

Be certain to follow the recommended precautions, but should an injury occur, SOS PLUS After Hours Care is available. A walk-in orthopedic medical clinic that treats patients of all ages with acute orthopedic conditions requiring immediate attention, SOS Plus has two locations to best serve patients, at 5719 Widewaters Parkway in Dewitt and 5000 West Seneca Turnpike in Onondaga Hill. Hours for both locations are weekdays 5 pm – 8:30 pm, and weekends 10 am – 2 pm.

© 2014 Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists