Athletic Injuries, Prevention & Management

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) joins the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone to help keep the knee stable. 1 out of every 3000 people will have an ACL injury per year and approximately 100,000 will choose to have reconstruction surgery to repair it. The ACL is injured more than any other ligament in the body and becoming more common among female soccer players. Mechanism of Injury Hyperextension (the leg straightens too far), the knee “gives out”. Direct blows to the knee (i.e. from a side tackle). A stress to the outside of the knee (i.e. from getting your soccer cleat...Read more
A hamstring strain is a tear where the muscle and tendon attach. It is common in soccer players and sprinters. During sprinting, the hamstring muscles work extremely hard to slow down the lower leg. Once the foot is on the ground the hamstrings are used to straighten the hip backwards; this allows the other leg to move forwards. The hamstrings most often become injured during the time right before the foot strikes the ground. At this stage the muscles are maximally activated and are approaching their maximum length. A strain can also occur when pushing off to sprint; this is an explosive...Read more
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a broad, thick band found on the inside area of the knee. It runs from the upper/inside surface of the shin bone (tibia) to the bottom/inside surface of the thigh bone (femur). This ligament stabilizes the joint on the inside of the knee. The MCL is one of the most common knee injuries in competitive and recreational soccer. It can occur by itself or in combination with other ligaments. Mechanism of Injury Outside stress to the knee (i.e. when your soccer player's foot is caught while preparing to kick the soccer ball with the side of the foot)...Read more
Shin Splints is a common term for shin pain during running. One of the most common shin conditions is Medial Tibial Stress syndrome, an overuse injury usually caused by kicking and running. The condition is characterized by pain and tenderness in the lower leg, usually along the front edge of the shin. Mechanism of Injury There are many different opinions as to the specific cause of tibial stress, including: changing training techniques overuse (from not allowing enough time to recover) training too hard, too fast or for too long suddenly increasing the intensity or duration of exercise...Read more
Muscle cramps are painful contractions or spasms of a muscle usually caused by fatigue, water loss, or by inadequate stretching, conditioning, and/or warm-up during soccer practice or competition. Mechanism of Injury There are several reasons why a muscle goes into a painful, uncontrolled contraction. The most common are: a blow to the muscle (contusion), like when another player knees your thigh while trying to go for the soccer ball over-stretching or applying too much force to a muscle, like when you straighten your leg too far while diving for a soccer ball Cramps or fatigue may also...Read more
Stress fractures usually occur in major weight bearing bones such as those of the foot or leg. Repetitive stress weakens the bone and begins to break it down. Many researchers think that this overuse injury starts out as a microscopic fracture. As such, it is difficult to diagnose right away because the injury does not immediately show up on X-ray. When it does show up it is already starting to heal. In soccer players the most common stress fractures are found in: Second and fifth metatarsals and femur (older soccer players). Tibia and fibula (younger soccer players). Mechanism of Injury...Read more
Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs lined with synovial membrane that are usually located in or close to joints. They function to reduce friction created by the movements of skin, tendons, and muscles over rough bony surfaces. Mechanism of Injury Bursae may become inflammed as a result of: excess frictional rubbing (overuse) direct trauma Bursitis is an irritation or inflammation of a bursa sac. As a protective mechanism, bursae swell in order to limit movements that increase both friction and subsequent pain. Commonly affected are the bursae in the: shoulder elbow (olecranon bursitis) side of...Read more
Patello-femoral pain is an irritation or inflammation of the tissues under or surrounding the kneecap. This condition is often inaccurately referred to as "chondromalacia". Chondromalacia is a diagnosis that should be reserved for cases where there is actual damage to the articular cartilage on the underside of the patella. This is not always the case in patello-femoral pain. But chondromalacia may arise from chronic patello-femoral pain. Mechanism of Injury The following causes the kneecap to be squeezed excessively against the lateral femoral condyle. overuse a blow (i.e. from a...Read more
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of tissue that extends down the lateral side of the leg from the thigh down over the knee and attaches to the tibia. When the knee flexes and extends, the ITB slides over the bony parts of the outside of the knee. Mechanism of Injury Friction occurs when the knee bends during running in soccer and the tendon moves back and forth across the distal femur (along the outside). This results in localized symptoms of tendinitis. This friction can be magnified by: increased training (especially running hills or too much too soon) poor shock absorption from...Read more
The piriformis is a muscle that runs from the sacrum to the outer aspect of the greater trochanter. Piriformis Syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle goes into spasm irritating the sciatic nerve. Signs and Symptoms Piriformis Syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle becomes tight or cramps, causing pain as it compresses the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and refers pain along the path of the sciatic nerve. Symptoms can include: Deep and dull aching in the buttock and thigh Pain in the low back that is aggravated while sitting and walking Sometimes lower back pain can be...Read more