A very common short-term injury that happens in nearly every sport is winding (aka, “getting the wind knocked out of you”). Soccer is no exception.
Winding is the temporary paralysis (spasm) of the diaphragm muscle. It’s often caused by a direct blow to the abdomen or chest, a fall on the back, or even a fall on the buttocks. It can easily occur on the pitch as collisions take place or a strong shot can strike a player in the stomach or chest. While it can cause the athlete to panic and can look traumatic, the athlete usually recovers with no symptoms.
The winded player will be in a significant amount of pain and have difficulty breathing. When assisting the athlete, draw his or her knees up to the abdomen or to a position of the greatest comfort. This can relax the abdominal muscles.
Have the athlete breathe in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth or encourage diaphragmatic breathing (the stomach is pushed out to cause the diaphragm to descend while inhaling and the stomach is pulled in while exhaling).
If the winded athlete suffers from asthma, they may require additional care such as their inhaled medication.
The player can return to activity if their breathing and pulse return to normal and they have no deformity or pain in the area. If there’s any persistence of symptoms, that may indicate some serious internal injury. If that’s the case, seek medical attention.
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