How to Avoid Football Injury

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Football is a high-intensity, high-contact sport, which makes injury prevention one of the most essential topics in the training process. Football is by far the most popular sport in the world, with estimates of over 256 million registered male and female players worldwide and fan participation counted in the billions (yes, that’s billions with a b).

Due to it being a contact sport, football has a potentially high risk of injury, and an accident can happen at any time. Types of football accidents include a direct kick of the ball to any part of the player’s body, as well as direct contact with an opponent’s elbow, knee, head, feet, or cleats (which can be particularly painful, as most professional players use metal cleats in order to have better traction on grass). 

Why Does Football Injury Happen?

Football injuries happen when there is an imbalance between applied and absorbed stress on the tissue, i.e., when the stress applied to a tissue becomes greater than its ability to absorb it. 

The possibility of an injury depends on numerous internal and external risk factors. External risk factors include weather, field conditions, equipment, and player position. Internal risk factors are about each player him or herself, including their conditioning, fatigue, skills and technical performance, maturational stage, etc.  

What Are the Most Common Football Injuries?

According to a study focusing on the incidence of injury for professional football players in the United States, a total of 9713 injuries were recorded between 2014 and 2019, with a mean of 1.1 injuries per player per year. 

Midfielders, the players who are positioned in the center of the field between the defenders and the forwards and who cover the most ground during a game, tend to sustain the largest number of injuries. 

The same study found that the most common types of injuries were:

  • hamstring strains (12.3% of all injuries)
  • ankle sprains (8.5%)
  • adductor strains (7.6%)
  • rectus strains (5.1%)
  • and foot contusions (3.3%). 

These findings were consistent with the study of 1743 professional European football players that cited the most common injuries to be:

  • hamstring (12.8% of all injuries)
  • adductor (9.2%)
  • ankle (6.9%) sprains

How to Avoid Football Injury?

The risk of injury, however, is not a reason not to play football (or any other sport, for that matter). It’s just important to be aware of the risks and learn about all available tactics and options that can be practiced to lower the risk of injury as much as possible.  

As a player, you must have appropriate equipment and a safe environment, be prepared for injuries and how to deal with them, take enough time to recover after an injury before returning to play, and, most importantly, ensure proper preparation for play.

What exactly does it mean to ensure proper preparation for play? First of all, it means maintaining fitness through aerobic exercise, strength training and conditioning, and flexibility. It also means taking proper time to warm up, cool down, and stretch.

Finally, it means always staying fully hydrated before, during, and after the game. As for the recovery part – every player needs a good football recovery checklist. Recovery is often neglected in the training process.

How to Use Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy to Prevent Football Injury?

Another option to help prevent the risk of football injury is using near-infrared and red light therapy. This safe, natural, non-invasive, and chemical-free mode of therapy uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs). It simulates the healing effects of natural sunlight at dusk and dawn, all without the harmful effects of UV rays. 

It has been around for more than a century. Still, it was NASA scientists who discovered the extraordinary potential of this form of treatment in a happy accident. They conducted a plant-growth experiment on a space shuttle. Afterward, they worked to develop its use on pediatric brain tumors and hard-to-heal wounds such as diabetic skin ulcers, serious burns, and oral mucositis.

Photobiomodulation uses two types of light sources: near-infrared light and red light. Near-infrared light is invisible; its wavelengths usually range from 700 to 2,500 nanometers. Red light is visible, with its wavelengths typically ranging between 630 and 700 nanometers. 

Red light is primarily (though not solely) useful on the skin’s surface, like in accelerating wound healing. Near-infrared light can be useful on the surface of the skin. It can also penetrate approximately an inch and a half underneath it. 

Benefits of Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Football Players

Near-infrared light therapy has many benefits; some of its properties can help you:

One study focused specifically on male football players, finding that near-infrared light (of 830 nanometers) reduced the levels of lactic acid in their bodies, which is a substance that carries oxygen from lungs to the other parts of the body. In this way, photobiomodulation can also help speed up your recovery and muscle fatigue. 

The use of near-infrared and red light therapy is exceptionally easy. With a portable, wearable, easy-to-use, and clinically-tested device like the FlexBeam, you can apply photobiomodulation whenever and however convenient. 

Using it a day before training or a match will help improve your energy and help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Use it an hour before playing by placing your device over muscles that are at the highest risk of injury. These are usually hamstrings, calves, glutes, thighs, feet, and core muscles. 

About an hour after training or the game, place your device over any sore muscles. That should help reduce your muscular fatigue and accelerate football recovery

Proper preparation is the key when it comes to avoiding football injury. In addition to all other preparation forms, you can now include near-infrared and red light therapy as a type of natural, non-invasive, and innovative treatment that can help you safely and effectively avoid football injury. 

Source: Sports Industry: A Research Guide Predictability of Sports Injuries Incidence of Injury for Professional Soccer Players in the United States: A 6-Year Prospective Study of Major League Soccer Fewer ligament injuries but no preventive effect on muscle injuries and severe injuries: an 11-year follow-up of the UEFA Champions League injury study Effects of Continuous-Wave (670-nm) Red Light on Wound Healing Effects of low level laser therapy (808 nm) on physical strength training in humans Clinical and Experimental Applications of NIR-LED Photobiomodulation Effects of low-level laser therapy and platelet concentrate on bone repair: Histological, histomorphometric, immunohistochemical, and radiographic study Effects of Light-Emitting Diode Therapy on Muscle Hypertrophy, Gene Expression, Performance, Damage, and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: Case-control Study with a Pair of Identical Twins Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) on acute pain and inflammation in patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty-a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial Effects of pre- or post-exercise low-level laser therapy (830 nm) on skeletal muscle fatigue and biochemical markers of recovery in humans: double-blind placebo-controlled trial FIFA Big Count 2006: 270 million people active in football