“The separation is in the preparation.” - Russell Wilson
Prevention of injuries is key for all ages and all sports. Prevention starts in the off season when you have time to focus on the fundamentals of your desired sport and conditioning required of that sport. Injuries can range from acute to chronic to traumatic to overuse. With each sport, there are injuries that are more common due to the conditions, amount of contact between players, and the type of field they are playing on. With soccer, injuries can happen in a variety of ways including contact, uneven surfaces, non-contact, and overuse. In order to work on prevention of injuries in soccer, one would have to focus on the three most common joints to injure, which are the ankle, knee, and hip. If you want to prevent injuries you need to focus on:
Dynamic Warm up and Prep Movements are crucial to preparing the body for athletic competition and are the foundation that your cardiovascular and strength training will be built upon. Here are a dynamic warm up and prep movement pattern you can use for soccer or any other sport. Dynamic warm ups and prep movements should be done prior to every work out including cardiovascular and strengthening.
Dynamic Warm Up (use cones to mark 15 feet)
2 laps A, B, C Skip
2 laps Toy soldiers
1 lap Spidermans
2 laps lunge with twist alternating
2 laps lunge with overhead reach
1 lap inch worms
30 clamshells bilateral
30 bridges with band at knee
30 SLR bilateral; 4 ways
20 Bird Dog UE/LE
30 sec plank x 4
30 sec single leg balance bilateral x 4 (can make more difficult by adding a ball toss between teammates)
Cardiovascular Endurance should consist of fitness tests (example National Team Fitness Test), interval training, and speed. Interval training is one of the most important due to the natural flow of soccer is up and down. Interval training should consist of longer distances, sprints, footwork, dribbling drills, and speed/explosive exercises to mimic the flow of a soccer game. Speed is important to improve footwork and agility which are key to soccer. Some examples of speed drills include stride outs, shuttle drills, sprints, dot drills, dribbling drills, and ladder drills. Cardiovascular endurance should also include soccer drills and games, because actually playing soccer is the best way to prepare the body for soccer endurance. Cardiovascular training should also be done year round due to it is best not to have mountains and valleys but a consistent flat level of training.
Strength training should also be focused on in order to prepare for the upcoming soccer season. Strength training should consist of exercises that are more functional for soccer like leg, push, pull, and abdominal exercises. It should have exercises that are explosive as well as for power. Circuit training can also be important to include strength training as well as agility and cardio.
Leg exercises: Lunges, Tuck Jumps, Bounding, Skiers/ Ice Skaters, Broad jumps, Step ups, Box jumps, Squats, Quick Jumps, Quarter turns (focus on landing), Single Leg reverse dead lifts, reverse dead lifts
Abdominal Exercises: Crunches, Obliques, V Sit, Bicycles, Toe Touches, Superman, Star Crunches, Medicine ball toss (twist, forward, and backward), Planks (front and side), Chops, Lifts
Push Exercises: Bench press, chest press, shoulder press, dips, push ups, incline bench, chest passes with medicine ball, overhead smash
Pull Exercises: Chin up, pull up, curls, rows, reverse fly, inverted rows, TRX rows, Y/T/W for scapular strengthening
Training for soccer should depend on how often you and your team will be practicing and how many games per week. In general, you should do two to three cardiovascular training days per week and one to two strengthening days. The activities you choose to do should be varied and geared towards your weaknesses. Rest is a key to success with prevention in injuries and you should not overtrain in any area.
Debra Myhr PT, DPT, MOTR, ATC is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Monroe.