As temperatures start to drop, soccer athletes often move indoors to stay fit and active throughout the winter. Indoor soccer is an excellent way to maintain cardiovascular health and stay strong for the outdoor season. However, the same types of injuries are still a risk no matter where you play. Pulled muscles, contusions, sprains, and hip and groin injuries can happen just as easily indoors, so it’s important to take steps to prevent them.
How to Prevent a Soccer Injury This Indoor Season
The field might be smaller, but the risks of injury are just as great. Follow these tips to avoid a soccer injury this winter:
1. Warm Up
Just because you go from a warm car to a warm indoor field does not mean your body is ready for the intensity of soccer. Get to the facility early and take the time to properly warm up. This includes moving your joints through their full range of motion, stretching, and warming up your large muscle groups with light jogging and other agility exercises. Just five to 10 minutes of warming up can mean the difference between a fun game and an injury that takes you out for the season.
2. Play It Safe
If you have enough people on your team, take breaks as needed to avoid overuse injuries. Stay warm while on the bench so that your muscles are fully prepared to return to activity when you get back in the game. Know your limits and don’t go beyond them while you’re on the field. Play your best game, but make sure you do it safely.
3. Stretch After the Game
During a soccer game, your muscles extend and contract for long periods of time. This can leave the muscles shortened and more susceptible to soreness and stiffness. Taking the time to stretch after the game can help prevent a soccer injury due to muscle fatigue or tightness. It will also help you recover more quickly and reduce muscle soreness so that you are ready to play the next session.
4. Use Cold and Compression
If you do sustain a mild injury, apply ice and compression immediately and for several days after it occurs. You can also use cold and compression to help reduce the normal soreness you feel after a game, even if you are not injured. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain, while compression prevents excess swelling. Applying cold and compression together can help your muscles and other tissues recover more quickly from injury or soreness.
5. Don’t Be a Weekend Warrior
If you play only once a week and do no other athletic activity, you are more likely to get a soccer injury. Even if you can’t play soccer multiple days a week, you can do other cross-training activities like running on a treadmill, cycling, and weight training. Building the strength and flexibility in your supporting muscles will help prevent injury and can also improve your game.
When a soccer injury does happen, it’s critical to start cold and compression therapy as soon as possible to limit the amount of swelling that occurs. After first aid, boost your recovery with the help of a cold therapy machine. It’s more effective and helps you heal faster than ice packs and compression bandages so that you don’t have to skip out on the rest of the indoor soccer season.