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Safe Soccer Play

Bicycle kicks, aggressive tackles and well-placed headers are among the reasons why soccer is such an exciting sport to play.

However, soccer is also one of the leading causes of sports injuries, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 507,000 soccer-related injuries in the United States in 2000. They included fractures, dislocations, contusions, lacerations, strains and sprains. The cost of those injuries was $7 billion in medical care, work loss, pain, suffering and legal liability.

The AAOS offers these tips on how you can prevent some common soccer injuries:

  • Always warm up and stretch. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm ups can include jumping jacks, stationary cycling, running or walking in place for three to five minutes. After your warm up, slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.

  • Wear shin guards to protect your lower legs.

  • Wear shoes with molded rubber cleats or ribbed soles. Shoes with screw-in cleats may increase injury risk. You should wear shoes with screw-in cleats when you need the traction playing in wet or high grass.

  • When playing on wet fields, use synthetic, nonabsorbent balls. Leather balls can become water-logged and heavy when they get wet, and that increases the chance of injury.

  • Don't crawl or sit on the goal or hang from the goal netting. You could be injured or killed if a goal falls on you.

  • Soccer goals need to be well padded to prevent injury if a player collides with a goal post. The goals need to be properly secured.

  • Keep the playing field in good condition. Holes should be filled, bare spots reseeded, and debris removed from the field.

  • Have first aid training that lets you take care of minor injuries such as cuts, bruises, or minor tendinitis, strains or sprains.

  • Be prepared for emergency situations, and have a plan to get medical help in case of more serious injuries such as concussions, dislocations, elbow contusions, wrist or finger sprains and fractures.

More information

For more general tips on sports injuries that kids could be prone to, the National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoskeletal and Skin Diseases offers this guide for parents.

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