Muscle cramps are a very common injury in soccer. A proper warm-up and cool-down, along with staying hydrated should put you in the clear, but that’s not always the case.
There are many ways a muscle goes into a painful and uncontrolled contraction. You could suffer direct contact to the muscle, fatigue, or you may over-extend for a ball or a challenge. Low sodium or potassium levels are also thought to be contributing factors.
The pain is sharp, severe and sudden, hitting you at any time (running, jogging, or during a rest interval). A hard “knotting” of the muscle will leave you (in the short-term), with a loss of function.
In dealing with the injury, remember the PRICE treatment.
• Protect/Rest the muscle and Ice for 10-20 minutes to relax and reduce pain.
• Compression and Elevation reduces swelling to the injured area.
To get back on the pitch, make sure you commit to some gentle stretching. Some light massage around the outside of the muscle will also help. While it’s not usually a major injury, err on the side of caution as returning to play too early can lead to further injury or damage to the muscle.
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