Avoiding Strains and Keeping Your Soccer Athlete Safe
As the soccer season kicks into high gear, athletes across the New River Valley (and the globe) are lacing up their cleats, dribbling the ball and getting ready to give it their all. However, amidst the anticipation of a great season and victory over fierce competition, the risk of hamstring injuries looms like an unwelcome opponent. These injuries, graded from mild (grade 1) to severe (grade 3), can disrupt a player's season and impact their long-term performance.
At Professional Rehab Associates in Radford, Virginia, we understand the profound impact that hamstring injuries can have on the careers of soccer athletes at both the junior and collegiate levels. Our team of dedicated physical therapists has witnessed firsthand the frustration and setbacks that come with these injuries and wants to do our part to help keep each athlete in the game.
We're here to empower you with knowledge and strategies to stay injury-free throughout the season, allowing you to perform at your best when it matters most. Whether you are playing for your high school, a travel team or at Radford University, you can apply these skills to decrease the risk of strains and have a stellar season.
Types of Hamstring Strain
There are three major types of hamstring strains that can be experienced if a soccer athlete isn't careful. Growing in strength, each strain presents its own complications, getting worse as the grade increases.
Grade 1 Hamstring Injury
Also known as a minor strain, a grade 1 hamstring injury that typically only involves tearing only a few muscles or tendon fibers.
Grade 2 Hamstring Injury
Grade two hamstring injuries can become a significant setback for soccer athletes. As a moderate strain, Grade 2 hamstring injuries involve more severe partial muscle tears and can be challenging for athletes to overcome.
Grade 3 Hamstring Injury
Grade three hamstring injuries, also known as severe hamstring strains, are the most significant form of this type of strain. A grade three injury involves the complete rupture of the muscle.
The Risk Factors for a Strain
Before we dive into the techniques, let's first discuss the risk factors that you might see. These factors will let you know if you are more "at risk" of experiencing a strain during your season.
Muscle imbalance of quadriceps vs. hamstrings
Previous history of hamstring or adductor injury
Sports that involve sprinting or cutting
It's important to pay attention to your body and understand what it might be telling you. As an athlete, it is so easy to simply push through, ignoring the signs, but the risks mentioned above are key indicators that things can get much worse if not taken care of in a timely manner. The Professional Rehab sports physical therapy team in Radford, Virginia, is here to help you understand your body and what it is saying.
So how do I take care of myself and reduce the risk for injury?
We are so glad you asked.
Hamstring and Adductor Muscle Strain Prevention
Below are six ways that you can start your journey to muscle strain prevention. Following these steps is key in ensuring that you are listening to your body and giving it the proper care to avoid injuries. As sports physical therapists, our goal is to ensure that each athlete is following a plan that will provide their body with the proper warm-up, attention, recovery time and stretching necessary to allow for peak performance.
10 minutes: light jog followed by dynamic stretching
A skips, B skips, C skips, hamstring scoops, high knees, butt kicks, side steps
Keep muscles strong year-round
Hamstring: Nordics, eccentric hamstring curls, bridges, single leg bridge, hip strengthening exercises
Adductor: Copenhagen’s, adductor ball squeeze, adductor leg raises, hip and abdominal strengthening exercises
Immediately stop exercise if the athlete feels pain in the hamstring or adductor area
Increase exercise duration and intensity slowly (~10%increase each week)
Acceleration, deacceleration and change of direction training
Proper cool-down with active recovery
5-10 minutes: light jog followed by static stretching
We have given you all of the information, and now we want to show you examples. Below is a series of videos that you can keep at your disposal for when you need it. We will show you some of Professional Rehab Associates' favorite stretches, warm-ups and exercises to reduce the risk of strain.
Start Your Journey to Injury Prevention
Professional Rehab Associates is here to help all athletes throughout the New River Valley perform at their best and experience the thrill that comes with a great season. Our team of qualified therapists, specializing in sports physical therapy and sports medicine, provide the knowledge and tools to reduce injuries and increase strength. We work in collaboration with both coaches and parents to ensure that athletes receive a treatment/injury-prevention plan that will increase performance.
If you or someone you know is in need of sports physical therapy services in Radford, Christiansburg or Blacksburg, Virginia—or other parts of the New River Valley, look no further than Professional Rehab Associates. Give us a call for more information or schedule an appointment today.