Tara graduated from Queen Margaret University, Scotland with a Masters of Science, Honors in Physiotherapy. Prior to her physiotherapy studies, she gained her Bachelor of Arts, Kinesiology degree from Western University in London Ontario. Tara enjoys keeping busy with many sports and hobbies, including field hockey, downhill skiing, yoga, cooking, hiking and ultimate frisbee. She played for the women’s varsity field hockey team during her undergraduate degree at Western, and continued to play while at school in Scotland. Tara has experience with soccer and football team therapy, volunteer experience at the Lithuanian Olympics and elderly rehabilitation programs. Through her education and personal experiences, Tara is dedicated to helping clients achieve their rehabilitation, fitness and wellness goals. Tara is pursuing advanced concussion training with Complete Concussion Management, and will be working towards Medical Acupuncture Licensing. As an enthusiastic, engaging therapist, Tara loves that she is able to work with new and returning clients everyday. Further, Tara is committed to continuous learning, and is eager to advance her clinical education.
Soccer is one of the most widely played sports by children, teens and adults. It also has one of the highest injury rates among all sports and across all levels from beginners, weekend warriors to professional athletes. The majority of these injuries occur in the lower extremity due to the amount of footwork required during twisting, turning, jumping, landing and tackling. In this article we will discuss the most common lower extremity injuries in soccer, as well as prevention strategies that coaches, trainers and athletes can start implementing right away to keep athletes healthy on the field.
Common Lower Extremity Injuries
ACL injuries continue to be one of the most common and devastating sporting injuries. They are frequent in soccer, and 80% of the time they occur during non-contact activities such as cutting, pivoting and landing. Once an athlete has suffered an ACL injury, they are 25% more likely to injure the opposite ACL or reinjure the same one. The good news is that ACL injuries are preventable. Research has shown preventative ACL programs can decrease the risk of ACL injuries by 24-82%, with these rates being higher in females and younger athletes.
What can you do right now to keep your ACL injury free?
- Start a prevention program at an early age and stick with it. Those who started an ACL neuromuscular training program young (pre-puberty), and actually stuck with it on a regular basis (3x/week for 20-30 min at a time) were less likely to sustain an ACL injury.
- Fix your biomechanics. Faulty movement patterns during landing and cutting put a lot of strain on the ACL and are one of the main risk factors for injury. A dynamic assessment can identify any biomechanical errors and help establish an individualized exercise program to fix them.
- Do a variety of exercises. There isn’t one magical exercise that will strengthen your ACL. A typical program will focus on balance, proprioceptive exercises, single leg stability, jump training, plyometrics, and agility drills.
- Strength training! Key muscles play a role in preventing knee injuries, including the core muscles, hip abductors and hip external rotators.
- Rehab your injuries. Whether it’s your hip, ankle or knee, you need to address the injury sooner rather than later in order to prevent long-term problems and further injury. For example, ankle instability (i.e., from ankle sprains) can put you at an increased risk for ACL injury. More specifically, if your ankle is unstable during landing and cutting, the knee will be loaded abnormally, putting more strain on the ACL.
- Start using a warm up program like FIFA 11+, which consists of a dynamic warm up combined with strengthening, balance exercises, and plyometric drills. It has been shown to be effective in decreasing all lower extremity injuries, especially ACL injuries. However, its maximum benefit is with athletes who perform the program on a regular long-term basis.
Hamstring and Calf Injuries
Injuries to the hamstring and calf muscles are common among soccer players due to the repetitive kicking, sprinting and jumping involved in the sport. Re-injury of these muscles is also an issue affecting many athletes long term, with roughly 30% of athletes suffering a re-injury to the hamstring, and 63% to the Achilles within 2 years after initial injury. Continue reading more here.
Roughly 35% of all soccer injuries occur in the ankle, with an average time lost from play of about 48 days. With the high prevalence and long recovery time associated with ankle injuries, identifying modifiable risk factors and prevention strategies is key to keeping athletes healthy on the field. Continue reading more here.
If you’re currently injured, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists or massage therapists in order to help get you back on the field healthy and pain-free. If you’re not currently injured, the therapists at Sheddon can get you started on an injury prevention and strengthening program by working on your specific weaknesses and imbalances to help prevent any future injuries. If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area that has great therapists AND will get you results quickly, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.
Nessler et al. (2017). ACL Injury Prevention: What does the research tell us? Curr Rev Musculoskeletal Med. 10:281-288.
When people hear about the benefits of core strength and injury prevention, they usually think of lower back weakness and kegels.
While core strength is essential in the prevention and rehabilitation of lower back injuries, it plays a much bigger role in overall function and sports performance, and goes well beyond the kegel exercise. Core strength plays a major role in posture, strength, coordination and power in all types of activities from running to throwing.
At Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Oakville we assess both static and dynamic core stability as it relates to your sport. From our assessment findings specific core exercises will be prescribed and progressed to prevent injury and improve athletic performance.
Basic core exercises initially teach how to recruit the core muscles. Once this can be done successful, various progressions can be used to challenge the core by adding limb movements, unstable surfaces and different forms of resistance.
The video below demonstrates a core stability progression exercise, which incorporates functional extremity movements and resistance.
Athletes of all ages and skill levels are being pressured with more and more commitments regarding training, practices, games and tournaments. Back in the day, extra skill development, strength and conditioning, and mental skill training were reserved for “elite” athletes. Nowadays, all athletes want that competitive edge. In order to improve fitness and skill development, athletes need to push their training to greater limits. If an athlete “under trains” they risk injury due to being under prepared. If an athlete “over trains”, they risk injury due to fatigue and overuse. The key is finding the “perfect” amount of training AND recovery in order to achieve the optimal training benefits, without risk of injury. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” training program, as each athlete responds differently to training, based on internal and external factors. The tips below will help coaches, trainers, parents and athletes train smarter for optimal performance benefits:
1. Periodization: A poorly managed training and competition schedule can increase risk of injury, if training isn’t well planned throughout the season. For example, injuries are most likely to occur following repetitive and rapid increases in training intensity, frequency or duration, especially if the training greatly exceeds the fitness level of the athlete. While it is okay to train hard and push athletes, coaches/trainers need to be mindful of how the athletes are responding. A hard training week, resulting in athlete fatigue, should not be followed by an even harder week. Athletes need time to recover and adapt.
2. Offseason Conditioning: Ensure adequate off-season and pre-season physical/psychological training so that athletes are in top shape when the season begins.
3. Recovery: Following intense training periods and tournaments athletes will have a temporary decrease in physical performance, neuromuscular control and muscular strength that can take up to 5 days to return to baseline levels. In addition, muscular fatigue from cumulative training days will compromise coordination, decision making and joint stability, all of which can lead to acute injuries, such as ACL tears. Recovery days are key to building stronger athletes.
4. Monitoring: Athletes need to be monitored in terms of physical performance, emotional well-being, stress and fatigue. This can be easily achieved with training logs and monthly questionnaires, and training should be adjusted accordingly.
5. Injury surveillance: Overuse injuries need to be caught early in order to avoid prolonged time off sport. As such, monitor your athletes for changes in performance and compensatory patterns, since most athletes will ignore early signs of injury.
6. Emotional well-being: Psychological stress has been shown to increase muscle tension, narrow the visual field and lead to increase distractibility, all of which can increase risk of injury. Be aware of athletes’ mental state (anxiety, stress, nervousness), as it plays a huge role in injury susceptibility. Provide a supportive and strong social support network within the team, including players, coaches and trainers.
7. Healthy behaviours: Training hard in the gym and on the field is only one piece of the puzzle. Athletes need to be aware of the importance of adequate sleep and nutrition.
Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic has a team of athletic therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists and sports medicine doctors who can help get you back on the field healthy and pain-free. If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area that has great therapists AND will get you results quickly, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.
Soligard et al., (2016). How much is too much? International Olympic Commttee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50:17.
Roughly 20% of volleyball players will suffer an injury at some point in their career, with ankle sprains making up roughly 50% of all injuries experienced in volleyball athletes across all skill levels. Luckily, ankle sprains can be prevented with education and coaching on proper skill techniques/mechanics, as well as specific conditioning exercises such as balance and proprioceptive exercises. The therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic have worked with numerous volleyball players from young athletes just learning the sport to higher-level rep players from clubs in Oakville/Mississauga such as Pakmen Volleyball. The team at SPSC can help identify athletes at risk for injury as well as quickly and efficiently rehabilitate athletes who have suffered an injury.
Most ankle sprains (89%) occur around the net from landing after a block or an attack. They generally result from stepping on the foot of an opponent or a teammate. The greatest risk factor for an ankle sprain is a previous history of ankle injuries, especially if it occurred in the past 6-12 months and was not rehabilitated properly.
- One of the most effective prevention strategies is education and training regarding proper take off and landing technique during blocking and attacks. More specifically, players should be taught to jump straight up to hit the ball, instead of forward, so that they will not land on the centre line under the net. In addition, players need to practice take off and landing during 2 man blocks.
- Proprioceptive training to improve stability and balance. Proprioceptive exercises should be included in every warm up, and should only take 5 minutes to complete. They will generally involve the use of balance boards, bosu, trampolines, and ladders. For example: a. player standing on one leg and tosses a ball to another player or against wall 10/leg x 5 sets. B. Single leg stance on the balance board/bosu for 30 sec x 2 sets. C. Mini squats on balance board 10x 2 sets. D. Ladder drills to work on agility and coordination.
- Proper rehabilitation post ankle injury in order to prevent reoccurrence.
- The use of support (brace or tape) to protect the ankle. Research has shown that bracing/taping decreases the incidence of ankle sprains in previously sprained ankles, but not in previously uninjured ankles. The greatest risk of reinjury is during the first year post ankle sprain, due to weakness in the ligament and proprioceptive ability, as such athletes should brace/tape for the first year post injury.
Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic has been treating athletes of all ages and skill levels for over 10 years in the Oakville and Mississauga area. If you’re currently injured, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists or massage therapists in order to help get you back on the court healthy and pain-free. If you’re not currently injured, the therapists at Sheddon can get you started on an injury prevention and strengthening program by working on your specific weaknesses and imbalances to help prevent any future injuries. If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area that has great therapists AND will get you results quickly, then contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.