Avoiding soccer injuries

As any athlete (or sports parent) knows, playing any sport brings the risk of cuts, bruises and contact injuries from running into an opponent or teammate. Physiquality member MOTI Physiotherapy in Southern California points out that many soccer injuries occur in the lower extremities, ranging from knee pain and shin splints, to patellar tendinitis and ACL sprains and tears.

Back of teenage girl holding a white soccer ball over her head

Soccer requires a high level of fitness

The American Physical Therapy Association explains that soccer requires a high level of fitness of its players. The sport requires speed, agility and coordination to run up and down the field with the ball. This is why core strength is so essential for soccer players; it allows players to balance and move throughout a sixty- to ninety-minute soccer match.

Empower Physical Therapy and Fitness, a Physiquality member in Michigan, notes that soccer players can take several steps to prevent injury.

  • Stretching and warming up
  • Practicing proper technique
  • Wearing appropriate clothing
  • Staying hydrated
Man leaping through the air to kick a soccer ball

Proven injury prevention

The steps suggested by Empower Physical Therapy and Fitness may seem simplistic, but multiple studies have shown that injury prevention warm-up programs can reduce soccer injuries by up to 45%. The FIFA 11+ program used in these studies was developed by the Medical Assessment and Research Centre associated with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the international governing body of association football (what some parts of the world call soccer). It consists of running exercises to warm up the body and increase speed, as well as 10 minutes of exercises to build strength and balance through plyometric exercises.

The program was originally developed for teenage girls, but it has been shown to help reduce injury for all teen and university-level soccer players since then. And for those coaches and players who feel it’s time wasted that could be spent on soccer drills, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bert Mandelbaum reminds coaches that it’s an investment in the health of the team that results in fewer injuries and healthier players.

Thank you to our contributors:

Empower Physical Therapy and Fitness is a Physiquality clinic with two locations in Michigan. Founded in 2008, their clinic combines physical therapy and fitness solutions in one place, where patrons can recover from an injury, improve sports performance, or work toward better quality of life.

Physiquality member MOTI Physiotherapy has two locations in the Los Angeles area, in Los Feliz and Highland Park, with more to come. Staffed completely with therapists who have completed doctorates in PT, their approach analyzes the whole person…looking at their movement patterns and lifestyle to develop a truly personalized treatment experience, with an emphasis on functional therapeutic exercise.


What is FIFA 11+? Fédération Internationale de Football Association, posted by the York Region Soccer Association.

Sadigursky, David, et al. The FIFA 11+ injury prevention program for soccer players: A systematic review. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, November 28, 2017.

Preventing injuries in youth soccer players. American Physical Therapy Association, October 13, 2016.

Silvers-Granelli, Holly, et al. Efficacy of the FIFA 11+ injury prevention program in the collegiate male soccer player. American Journal of Sports Medicine, November 2015.

Who we serve: Soccer players. Moti Physiotherapy.

Soccer injury prevention and treatment. Empower Physical Therapy.

Woitalla, Mike. Combating an injury epidemic and more on FIFA 11+ with Dr. Bert Mandelbaum. U.S. Youth Soccer, October 30, 2012.

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