As expected, England have progressed to the next round of the World Cup, where they will face Colombia. There have been some surprises, perhaps none bigger than the elimination of current champions Germany. The runners-up from 2014, Argentina, have also struggled to reach the knockout stages. As one wise sage once said, football is a funny old game. Lethargic and below par performances aside, serious injuries have been conspicuous in their absence in this year’s tournament, which can only be a positive. However, as we reach the knockout rounds, the intensity of competition will increase. Extra time and penalty shoot outs will add to the physical burden players are subjected to, thus increasing the likelihood of cramp, and groin and hamstring injuries.


Did you know that?

  • Nearly 83% of football-related injuries occur to the lower limbs. In men, this is most commonly the ankle. In women, it is the knee.
  • Nearly a quarter of all injuries are caused by tackling
  • Midfielders are most at risk. They experience nearly 40% of all the injuries on a pitch
  • Muscle strains to the thigh, most frequently the hamstring muscle, are in the top three injuries
  • Muscle injuries are often associated with a burst of acceleration/ sprinting, sudden stopping, lunging, sliding (over stretching the muscle) or a high kick
  • Ankle and knee injuries, where ligaments are strained, occur with cutting, twisting, jumping, changing direction and contact/tackling
  • Groin pain is also a common complaint and may be due to poor kicking technique, as well as weakness in the core and pelvis. 1 in 5 players will experience a groin injury in a season
  • 40% of those groin injuries will cause a player to have to take more than 28 days off from play


In most cases, an underlying weakness or imbalance in the muscles of the leg, core and pelvis is the cause of many injuries. Professional footballers need to maintain an optimal level of fitness so as to be able to deal with the physical demands of the football season. In order to do so, they receive ongoing treatment and assessment from their clubs’ dedicated medical team. This is not the case with recreational footballers. Very often they have to fit in training and playing matches around busy work and social schedules. As such, they can unwittingly expose themselves to an increased risk of sustaining an injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, this may also have a knock on effect on other aspects of their lives (enforced lay off from work, etc).


The evidence tells us that physical fitness is the single most important factor in preventing football injuries. This is, of course, applicable to other sports. In essence, the greater your level of physical fitness and preparation for matches, the smaller the risk of picking up an injury becomes.

Here are some stats:

  • Neuromuscular training for the knee can reduce the incidence of serious knee injuries by 3.5 times
  • A 3 x a week pre-season proprioceptive training programme resulted in a 7 x decrease in ACL injury and an 87% reduction in the risk of suffering an ankle sprain
  • And a strength training programme can reduce the incidence of injuries by nearly half (47%) compared to soccer players who did no additional strength training


If you want to understand more about any of these aspects then come and talk to us. A good training programme incorporating both strength and neuromuscular/ proprioceptive training can go a very long way to helping you prevent an injury occurring in the first place. For appointments with our team of Osteopaths, Physiotherapists or Sports Medicine Physician, call us on 020 8789 3881.