Get ready for kick-off!

Robin Turner

Professional advice for amateur footballers on avoiding injuries from Robin Turner, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon to Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.

The outlook for football enthusiasts in Sussex has never looked more exciting, thanks to the opening of the new Amex stadium in Falmer. While the fans have been counting down the days to the new season, the players have been getting themselves match fit with a complex and well-tested fitness regime. As well as needing to fine-tune their skills and increase their stamina, players also need to prepare their bodies against the risk of injury. Critical to this is the precise process of warm up and cool down exercises, specific to football, that the players perform under the watchful eye of the conditioning therapists and coaches.

Football specific training benefits amateurs too

These kinds of exercises are just as important for us occasional players. All training regimes need to be sport specific and football is no exception. Even if it’s just a kick-around in the park, football is a sport that requires players to perform fast, sudden movements, often twisting and pivoting, not to mention the force of kicking and the heavy impact of tackling. All this puts a tremendous strain on our bodies, especially as they become more brittle with age; and without proper preparation, injuries can easily happen.

Warm up with your team before each match

Before each match, plan a warm up session with your team. This should include dynamic stretching of the leg muscles – i.e. moving through a full range of motion while stretching. There is evidence that dynamic stretching prepares the body for sport more effectively than performing stretches while standing still. Static stretching can be performed as part of your cool down routine. By following this advice you will limit your risk of muscle, bone, tendon and ligament injury.

Injuries do happen

However, injuries do happen even to well-prepared players. When they do, it’s important to find out as soon as possible what the injury is and how severe it is. Assuming it’s not life or limb threatening, the diagnostic process begins with your GP or sports therapist, who may then refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

The sooner injuries are treated, the sooner you get back on your feet

On occasion, injuries are severe enough to need surgical correction such as repairing a knee meniscus (cartilage) or reconstructing a ligament. The sooner such injuries are diagnosed and treated, the quicker you get back on your feet and most importantly, reduce the risk of further damaging yourself.

Come on the Seagulls and see you at the Amex!