Know your in-game injuries

Dr Shreyash Gajjar, a Consultant and Unit Head, Arthroscopy and Sports Orthopaedics, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, shares tips about different sports injuries and their care

Know your in-game injuries
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Football is one of the most popularly played sports in India. It combines speed, agility, power, strength and hence requires quick movements and changes in direction in addition to avoiding contact with other players in a high-speed environment. As a consequence, the risk of injury is high.

The injuries commonly associated with football are:

  • Hamstring strain
  • Groin strain
  • Ankle sprain
  • Foot fracture
  • Knee cartilage/ ligament tear

Hamstring strain: Also known as pulled hamstring, it is caused due to pull or tear of the muscle leading to a sudden sharp pain at the back of the thigh. Usually, mild hamstring injuries can be cured by a combination of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication.

More serious strains require prolonged rest and recovery, which will prevent a player from taking part in training for a long period.

Groin strain: Groin strain is common in the football players and occurs due to overstretching to reach out to the ball. This strain is caused due to over-extension of the adductor muscles located in the inner thigh.

Although mild injuries heal quickly, still, a player should refrain from taking part in physical activity until it has completely healed. Severe injuries take several weeks to heal and with the aid of physiotherapy, the recovery and strengthening of the affected muscle speed up.

Ankle sprain:  Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments surrounding the joints are damaged or stretched beyond their limit. The ankle joint is particularly vulnerable in football due to the fast-paced nature of the game, the actions of twisting and turning and the possibility of poorly-timed tackles.

Consequently, ankle sprains are common amongst footballers. Mild injuries usually heal fairly quickly although the ankle may feel sore when a player is standing or moving.

The serious ankle sprains require good care, and it may take weeks to heal completely. In some players, if ankle problems are persistent, it may be necessary to undergo surgery.

Foot fracture: The foot has five metatarsal bones which stretch from the ankle to the toes. When a foot is put under constant pressure, in a game like a football, these bones can break.

Fracture of the 5th metatarsal is most common. It is managed with anti-inflammatory medication and plaster, at times, surgery may be necessary to treat the fracture.

Knee cartilage/ ligament tear: As football is a pivoting type of sport, twisting injuries to the knee cartilage, ligaments are common. Minor injuries will recover with a period of rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physiotherapy. However, it is the severe injuries that require surgery and time for recovery.

Injury prevention

The factors that can help in preventing an injury are:

  • Give adequate time for warm-ups.
  • Use proper equipment, i.e., shoes, guards, correct playing surface.
  • Practice a good technique.
  • Know your physical limits, i.e., do not overtrain.
  • Take sufficient time to cool down your body.