We recently asked Portland chiropractor and nutritionist Dr. Simon Agger for his advice on how a soccer player can avoid injury and stay healthy during the soccer season. He grew up playing soccer in England and continues to play regularly for healthy and the love of the beautiful game. He works with soccer players of all ages in his Agger Chiropractic and Nutrition Clinic.
Your body is the perfect mix of elasticity and stability. It’s essential to understand the working of the body as you play soccer, especially if you play in a league like the Toffee League. Soccer requires running and twisting of the body. This is rarely replicated in our day jobs, so special training and preparation is needed to prevent the typical injuries seen in soccer.
The endurance needed to play soccer also requires fuel from food and drink to keep the body supple during the match and especially for recovery in between games.
Repetitive jobs and activities during the day wear the body in very particular ways. For example, if you sit for most of your day, fluids in your knees get stagnant, the back or your thigh muscles ( hamstrings) shorten and your ankles don’t move much. Your neck cranes in similar ‘head forward and to the side’ repetition and maybe your torso doesn’t rotate much.
This means your body is used to specific motions that don’t mimic your movements on the field. The goal is to prepare the body for the different movements that happen on the soccer pitch.
Protect the knees, ankles and legs: The more you prepare the knees for the rigors of the game, the better you can avoid knee twists, ligament tweaks, muscular strains and at the worst, ruptures. Keeping your ankles and legs healthy on a daily basis is also a great way to avoid injury.
Get up and move around more if you’re sedentary at work.
Drink extra fluids with an emphasis on water and herb teas. This will hydrate you during the day, making you more flexible and elastic in your muscles and ligaments so you don’t strain/sprain them as easily! )
Avoid energy drinks, massive amounts of caffeine and save the alcohol for afterwards….these drinks all dehydrate the body, which makes you less flexible, and more prone to injury.
Move your knees and ankles throughout the day- not just during warm up or before a match. Move them in the air, on a bike, in a pool and through weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, running and standing on one leg. Even if you’re not serious about playing footy, stand on one leg and hold it several times a day…this builds co-ordination, stability AND strength in your hips, knees and ankles. If you already do this, close your eyes while you stand on one leg.
Remember when you’re shooting, clearing or passing you always have one leg off the ground!! Simple tricks, eh?
Stretch the Big Three:
Calf muscles- especially your achilles tendon on the back of your heel.
Hamstrings- back of the thighs );
Hip flexors in your groin area- use a lunge like stretch.
HOLD ALL stretches for 20 seconds. Repeat at least twice. Find ways to put the stretches into active movements. This is called dynamic stretching. Make sure you also do an overall warm up before a match- stretching can come before or after the warm up.
I warm up with light jogging, changing directions ( aka cutting ), ball work, then some sprinting a jog down, a stretch a bit of a relax, and then kick off!
Enjoy yourselves and have a laugh.
Thanks to Dr. Agger for these excellent strategies. We hope you will visit him at his clinic to keep yourself healthy and supple throughout the summer football season!