Sneak Peak Into: Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment. Part 2

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soccer player kicking the ball

Sneak Peak into Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment: A Guide to Optimal Performance for Players, Parents, and Coaches.

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Available May 28th, 2014

This week take a look at a topic discussed in John Gallucci Jr.’s book:

Strength and Conditioning Tips to Avoid Soccer Injuries

The soccer athlete runs an average of six to seven miles in any given match. In order to handle that much running, the aerobic fitness of soccer players needs to be at peak levels. Aerobic training should be done at around 60 to 75% of maximum heart rate.

Athletes should be in the gym or weight room two to three times per week in season and three to four times per week out of season. In-season training is necessary to maintain strength levels throughout the course of a rigorous season, without over-taxing the body. Offseason training should be programmed to improve overall strength and conditioning levels across all competencies; this is when biggest gains are made.

Make sure off days are scheduled into every strength and conditioning program; the body benefits just as much from rest as it does from work.

Full-Body Strength Routine

Do a full-body strength routine with sets and reps of 3 x 10. As the soccer athlete progresses into more formalized programs, strength and conditioning becomes a truly integral part of his or her training. Licensed strength coaches will teach different levels of rest, periodization, pyramid systems and various other techniques and programming. For the purposes of the young athlete, the larger muscle groups should be broken down: quads, hamstrings, calves, chest, upper back, shoulders and arms.

Some recommended strength training exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Calf raises
  • Dumbbell rows and raises
  • Pushups and bicep curls

Core Training

The core is a very important part of any athlete. When the core is strong and stable, many injuries can be prevented. These muscles are necessary for continual spinal stabilization and rotational stability.

Recommended core strengthening exercises are:

  • Standard flexion or crunch abdominal exercises – also incorporate an extension component
  • The Superman, done on all fours while raising the arms and legs off of the ground

Flexibility

Flexibility is a simple and extremely necessary component of every strength and conditioning program. Training causes fatigue in the muscles, which can cause them to tighten. Spasms in tight muscles can cause pain. Running athletes are most commonly sore with tight hamstrings and external rotators such as the piriformis and gluteals.

Ways to improve flexibility:

  • Static stretching, muscles are elongated into a static stretch that is typically held for a period of 30 seconds. The stretch is usually repeated three times.
  • Ballistic stretching has more benefits than static stretching. Ballistic stretching is a technique that utilizes a rapid elongation of the muscle followed by a rapid shortening. Examples of ballistic stretches are high-knees, squat jumps and side-shuffles.

Remember, always have a partner or spotter, even when training at home in the basement. Be sure to get full range of motion in the entire joint for maximum benefit; range of motion is the distance a lever can move while attached to a fixed point. Imagine your bones as levers and the joints as fixed points, and make sure you exercise them from full flexion to full extension.