Monday, 22 Jul 2024

11 Of The Most Common Soccer Injuries

The 2023 Women’s World Cup has been an exhilarating event, showcasing top-notch soccer talent from around the world. However, the tournament has also been marred by the absence of some prominent players due to injuries. Among them, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, Vivanne Miedema, Christen Press, and Marie-Antoinette Katoto have all been sidelined with ACL injuries.

In recent months, there has been growing concern about the prevalence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries in women’s football. This serious injury has sidelined 25-30 players in the Women’s World Cup. Experts are now actively researching solutions to address this issue, which has been described as an “epidemic” in the sport.

In this article, we will delve into the world of soccer injuries, exploring the most common types and shedding light on the main threats to players’ fitness. From acute injuries caused by specific events to accumulative injuries resulting from repetitive stress on muscles, joints, or connective tissues, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of the most common soccer injuries.

Soccer Injuries: The Two Main Types

Generally speaking, soccer injuries can be categorized into two camps: acute injuries and accumulative injuries.

Acute injuries are often traumatic incidents that can be traced back to a specific event or time. They are commonly caused by falls, heavy blows, or collisions between players.

On the other hand, accumulative injuries are the result of repetitive stress on a particular muscle, joint, or connective tissue. This repeated strain can lead to progressively worsening aches, pains, and physical impairment, ultimately affecting a player’s performance.

In the following list, we will explore both acute and accumulative injuries, starting with more severe ones and then moving on to more everyday problems.

11 Of The Most Common Soccer Injuries

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

The ACL is one of the most dreaded injuries in professional soccer and the most common knee injury among players. An ACL injury occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament, a band of tissue connecting the thigh bone and shin bone, is partially or completely torn, sprained or detached from the bone.

ACL injuries can be caused by a twisted knee, a quick change of direction, or an overextension of the knee joint. Due to the less retractable nature of ligaments compared to muscles or tendons, these injuries can be particularly damaging to the front of the knee.

When an ACL injury occurs, a player might hear a loud “popping” sound and experience instability in the knee. Swelling, pain, and limited range of motion along the joint line typically develop within 24 hours. Recovery from an ACL injury can take approximately six to nine months.

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Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

While ACL injuries receive significant attention, the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injury often goes unnoticed. The PCL is located at the back of the knee, connecting the thigh bone to the back of the shin bone.

Typically, more force is required to injure the PCL compared to the ACL. A fall forward onto a bent knee or a direct blow to the knee from a collision can cause a PCL injury. However, it is not always immediately apparent when this type of injury occurs.

Signs of a PCL injury include swelling, reduced motion, and increasing soreness over time. These injuries are classified on a scale of mild sprain to complete tear. Treatment and recovery time depend on the severity of the injury.


Soccer players who suffer a knee ligament injury often experience injuries to other parts of the knee. One common injury is a meniscus tear.

The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions the space between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). Meniscus tears usually occur when the knee is twisted or during quick pivots or deceleration movements.

Symptoms of a meniscus tear include pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling around the knee. Recovery from knee cartilage damage can take three to six months.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are a frequent occurrence in football. They happen when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint are stretched or torn. Lateral ankle sprains, which occur outside of the ankle, are the most common type of ankle injury in soccer. Medial ankle sprains, which happen inside the ankle, can occur when the toes are turned out while the foot is flexed upward.

When an ankle sprain occurs, it is crucial to rest the ankle for at least 24-48 hours without bearing weight and avoid overexertion to prevent further injury. As the ankle strengthens, light stretching and exercises designed to gradually build up muscle strength are essential for recovery.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a chronic injury that often results from overuse, inadequate recovery periods, or repetitive and sudden movements. It causes pain in the back of the ankle. Achilles tendonitis requires a coordinated rehabilitation program and can sideline players for three to six months. Another related issue commonly seen in football is Achilles Tendon Rupture.

Calf Muscle Pull

The calf is one of the most commonly injured areas of the body in soccer. The calf muscles, including the gastrocnemius and soleus, are frequently strained during explosive movements, such as quickly reaching for the ball.

Calf muscle strains typically heal within 28 days, with a low risk of re-injury. However, a comprehensive rehabilitation process is crucial to minimize the chances of reinjury.

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Concussions are a serious concern in professional football. Head clashes during matches can be extremely dangerous, leading referees to stop play immediately when a head injury occurs.

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Diagnosing a concussion can be challenging, but players should undergo a period of physical and mental rest for at least 24 hours. Further assessments will determine the extent of the damage.

Groin Pull

The groin is a commonly injured area in football. Groin injuries usually fall into three categories: adductor muscle strain, tendon injury, or osteitis pubis. Adductor muscle strains are acute injuries resulting from muscle tears or ruptures caused by overstretched sliding tackles or sudden changes in direction. Tendon injuries are chronic overuse injuries to an adductor tendon, often stemming from poor technique or overloads following a previous injury. Osteitis pubis refers to pelvic instability, an overuse injury resulting from repeated trauma and heavy pelvic loads. Groin pulls are classified on a Grade 1-3 scale, and treatment and recovery time depend on the severity.


Hamstring injuries are common among football players, ranging from minor strains to total ruptures. The hamstring is a group of three muscles located along the back of the thigh. Severe hamstring injuries can keep players out for up to three months, while mild strains may only require a recovery period of 8-10 days. Regular hamstring stretching is essential to prevent any degree of injury.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is a condition commonly experienced by runners but also seen in soccer. It is characterized by pain in and around the kneecap and is often caused by overuse, misalignment in the knee, or strained tendons.

Symptoms of runner’s knee include swelling, pain, and a grinding or popping sensation during running. Treatment typically involves knee support, pressure, ice packs, and rest.

Shin Splints

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are an inflammatory condition that causes a dull ache in the front of the lower leg. Soccer players may experience pain in the shinbone, numbness, or weakness in the feet.

Shin splints are often a result of overtraining and can be managed effectively with the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Professional footballers benefit from well-structured treatment programs provided by experienced medical experts.

How To Prevent Injuries In Soccer

While injuries are a part of football, there are steps that players can take to reduce the risk. Here are some important points to remember:

  • Warm up for at least 30 minutes before each match, focusing on stretching the major muscle groups involved in football, such as the hamstrings, hips, groins, quadriceps, and Achilles tendons.
  • Allow yourself proper recovery time after training sessions and matches, especially if you’ve experienced a knock or injury. Rushing back to the field can worsen the situation.
  • Wear appropriate gear, including well-fitting, quality football boots and shin pads for protection.
  • Inspect the playing field before entering to ensure there are no potential hazards, such as holes, irregular turf, puddles, stones, or debris.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, as overall fitness and well-being can reduce the likelihood of soccer injuries.
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If you want to learn more about maintaining fitness in football, check out our comprehensive guide to the role of the beep test in soccer.


Q: How common are ACL injuries in soccer?

A: ACL injuries are relatively common among soccer players, particularly in women’s football. It is one of the most common knee injuries in the sport.

Q: How long does it take to recover from an ACL injury?

A: Recovery time for an ACL injury can range from six to nine months, depending on various factors such as the severity of the injury and the individual’s rehabilitation process.

Q: What can cause an ankle sprain in soccer?

A: Ankle sprains in soccer can occur when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint are stretched or torn due to movements like sudden pivots, twists, or collisions with other players.

Q: How can soccer players prevent groin pulls?

A: Proper warm-up, stretching, and strengthening exercises specifically targeting the groin muscles can help prevent groin pulls. It is also important to maintain good technique and listen to the body’s signals to avoid overloading the area.

Q: Is runner’s knee a common injury in soccer?

A: Runner’s knee, characterized by pain in and around the kneecap, can occur in soccer players, although it is more commonly associated with running. It can be caused by overuse, misalignment, or strained tendons.


Injuries are a part of soccer, and players at all levels should be aware of the most common types and how to prevent them. From ACL and PCL injuries to ankle sprains and hamstring strains, understanding these common soccer injuries can help players take the necessary precautions and minimize their risk. By staying proactive, warming up properly, wearing appropriate gear, and maintaining overall fitness and well-being, players can enjoy the game while reducing the chances of getting sidelined by injuries.

Remember, when it comes to soccer injuries, prevention is better than cure. Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the beautiful game! For more information and resources, visit