Soccer is considered a contact sport with emphasis on the lower extremities (hips, thighs, knees, legs, and ankles/feet) due to the nature of the game. It is an endurance sport with short bursts of sprinting involved that puts significant stress on the lower body. With the addition of slide tackling and high impact, leg-to-leg contact, it is no surprise that most soccer-related injuries are in the lower extremities. A common soccer injury is a contusion, commonly known as a bruise. However, a contusion rarely results in days lost from training or competition. Most studies report that the top time-loss injuries, regardless of level of play or gender, are ankle sprains, knee sprains, hamstring strains, and groin strains. These account for between one-half and two-thirds of all soccer injuries. The order of prevalence of these injuries changes by level of play, with ankle sprains being more common in youth and lower levels of play, and hamstring strains being a leading cause of time loss in higher levels of play. Specifically focusing on the two most common injuries in amateur and professional levels (ankle sprains & hamstring strains, respectively), prevention and adequate treatment of these two injuries could have a massive impact on overall time lost to injury worldwide.
The mechanism of injury for ankle sprains is either non-contact with stepping on uneven ground, landing on another player’s foot, or cutting, and through contact with opposing player sliding into the ankle, forcing the ankle into inversion. Hamstring strains are typically described as a sprinting injury, with high muscle tension/contraction in a stretched/lengthened state, and most frequently occurring in the biceps femoris muscle.