Injury prevention

Prevention is better than cure, so how do we prevent sports injury? 

Well, accidents do happen, but if you’re playing sport, being match fit and warming up are key.  In fact, a soccer warm up developed by FIFA has been shown to reduce lower limb injury by 30%.

FIFA acknowledged that knee injuries were a particular problem for soccer players and went about designing a programme to help prevent them.

It is thought that kids get more injuries because of their lower skill and reduced muscle strength, lower endurance and coordination.  When kids get to 10 years old, we start seeing more ACL knee injuries and it is thought to be because they start to show risky motor patterns when landing, especially less knee flexion and more valgus (knock knee) positions.

Sports injury risk factors are divided into athlete related or environmental risk factors.  Some of them can be modified and others can’t.  Let’s look at the ones we can work on:

  • Fitness level
  • Warm up and sports specific training
  • Muscle strength
  • Flexibility
  • Joint stability
  • Biomechanical factors
  • Balance/proprioception
  • Psychological factors
  • Muscle endurance

The FIFA 11+ warmup focuses on good technique, agility and strength.  They then designed a programme for kids with a particular focus balance, landing technique, strengthening leg muscles and core stability muscles.

When landing from any jump it is important that the weight is centred over the foot and knee and this is important to prevent knee injuries in particular.  When the knee is splayed inwards, it is particularly vulnerable to injury.  If we can train kids to land like this in all sports we will avoid many ligamentous knee injuries and adults will benefit from proper technique too.

In fact, studies have found the FIFA 11+ reduces lower limb injury in those 14 years old and older by 32-72%.  Improvements were also seen in speed, dribble speed, accuracy of shoot, agility and vertical jump.

FIFA medical assessment and research centre designed the FIFA 11+ Kids to enhance the spatial orientation, prediction, attention, increase body stability and movement coordination and finally train the proper landing techniques.

Whilst the FIFA 11+ programme has been developed for soccer, many of the exercises are not sport specific, meaning they are good for all athletes. And the Kids programme is good training for all sports.  What’s more they are fun and a good way to exercise.  There are heaps of instructional videos on youtube.  Check them out and try incorporating some of the exercises into your training a couple of times per week!