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5 Best Exercises To Do During Soccer Season For Injury Prevention 

Soccer is a fun competitive team sport, and athletes of all ages know that playing the game is a good way to improve their body coordination, increase their endurance, and maintain their fitness. But like with any physical activity, there is a risk of getting injured if you’re not well-prepared. And whether it’s off-season or not, every athlete should know the importance of doing strengthening and conditioning exercises.  

So what are the best exercise routines to do during soccer season to avoid injuries? Some of the best exercises to do during soccer season are single leg squat, side plank, calf raises, glute bridge, and ankle hops. These exercises improve the overall performance of soccer players,  build their stamina, and improve their lower body strength and flexibility. 

Exercises To Help Prevent Soccer Injuries 

Strength training and flexibility exercises are a must for every newbie or veteran soccer player. Because once you’re in the field, you have to constantly engage your lower body’s muscles to be able to quickly run and score some goals. For a soccer athlete, it is essential to develop their overall speed and power and that usually begins with a training program focused on building the core and leg muscles. 

To prepare for soccer season, here are the recommended exercises that you can do with a trainer or at home: 

1. Single Leg Squats, at least 10 to 15 reps

Doing single leg squats targets more than just the core leg muscles often used by soccer players: hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes. It also helps develop balance, leg power, and coordination so you can maintain proper running form for overall improved performance. Additionally, it reduces the risk of suffering from common injuries like leg pain and runner’s knees. 

Anyone can do a single leg squat at home especially since it doesn’t require any type of equipment. The steps for a single leg squat are easy to follow: 

  • Stand with one leg firmly placed on the floor. Keep your knee slightly bent while your foot is pointed forward. 
  • Extend both arms forward to help maintain balance while you slowly raise the other foot. 
  • Lower your body to a squat position while holding your other foot up. 
  • Do light squats for 10 to 15 reps on each leg. 
  • Be careful not to let your knees go over your toes as you squat.

2. Side Planks, at least 30 secs per side 

This exercise is great for stabilizing your core and oblique abdominal muscles. Players can benefit from this since it helps in building strength, maintaining hip balance, and improving flexibility and movement across the field. To do this correctly, here are the steps for doing side planks: 

  • On the floor, prepare to lie on one side of your body. Keep your legs stretched to your side and stack them on your feet. 
  • Support your body with the elbow of your arm and make sure that is placed directly under the shoulders. Your other arm can rest on top of the elevated legs. 
  • Engage your core ab muscles and slowly lift your body from the floor. 
  • Check that your torso is kept straight and avoid bending as much as possible. 
  • Hold the position for at least 30 to 60 seconds before returning to the floor. Switch sides and do the steps again.

 3. Calf Raises, 20 reps 

Performing a standing calf raise is a simple yet effective stretching and leg training exercise. It activates and builds strong calf muscles to improve your jumping and running power. It also improves your balance and lessens the risk of getting ankle and foot injuries and sprains. 

This exercise can be done without any equipment but some individuals use light dumbbells or kettlebells for added weight while raising. Here are the instructions for a proper calf raise: 

  • Stand straight with your feet firmly on the ground, and place your arms on the sides. If you have weights, hold them close to the sides of your body. 
  • Your feet must be spread at shoulder width. Raise your body by elevating your heels from the ground. 
  • Make sure your knees are comfortably extended and not locked. 
  • Stay in this raised position for a few seconds before going back down. Repeat this activity for at least 20 reps. 
  • Avoid going too fast and move at a controlled and steady pace with even breathing.

4. Glute Bridges, 15 to 25 reps for at least 3 sets 

Glute bridges are an excellent hip extension and core stability-building exercise. Physical therapists use this routine to help chronic pain in low back muscles since it improves spinal stabilization. It targets both your abdominal muscles and buttocks to enhance your posture and performance. 

There are many variations to doing a bridge, such as single leg bridges, bridge marches, and bridges with elevated feet. But most individuals can start with the simple bridge routine: 

  • Place a mat on the floor and lie straight on your back. 
  • Keep your hands resting on your side and place your feet directly under your bended knees. 
  • Push yourself off the ground by tightening your abdomen and buttock muscles. When your hips are raised, there should be a straight line from your knees to the shoulders. 
  • Stay in the position for 15 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat the steps for at least 15 reps.

5. Ankle Hops, 3 to 5 sets

Ankle jumps are a common training exercise that builds speed and power for soccer players. Ensuring that your ankles are flexible is important to contribute to overall lower body strength, especially when running or kicking. If it’s not conditioned properly, the chances are high for developing ankle injuries. Here’s how you can do proper ankle hops: 

  • Stand straight with feet tucked together and keep your hands at your sides. 
  • Lift your body on your toes without bending your knees too much. 
  • Begin to bounce lightly off the ground by extending your ankles and pushing at the balls of your feet.
  • For more advanced training, you can set up hurdles in your backyard or at a field. Jump over each hurdle using your ankles and after the final hurdle, return to the starting position by sprinting. You can do this routine for about 3 to 5 sets. 

Common Soccer Injuries Players Need To Look Out For 

Having a basic knowledge of common soccer injuries can help you prepare your body for the game to prevent accidents. Here are the injuries that soccer players often experience: 

  • Knee and ankle sprains - repetitive and explosive movement can sometimes put tension on the ligaments and joints that support the knees and ankles. 
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury - this condition refers to a tear on one of the ligaments that connect your thigh bone to the tibia. This causes excruciating pain and serious swelling which can greatly affect a player’s movements. 
  • Hamstring injury -  also often referred to as pulled hamstring, this injury is characterized by a strain on one or two muscles at the back of the thigh. 
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome or runner’s knee - it is often described as a dull ache surrounding the knee and is usually caused by damage to the cartilage in the kneecap. 
  • Tendonitis - a common soccer condition when there is inflammation or swelling in the tendon that attaches the muscle to the bone.  

Other Tips To Avoid Soccer Injuries 

Ensuring proper training and conditioning prior to a game is just one step of preventing soccer injuries. Here are other safety tips you can follow to reduce injuries on the playing field: 

  • Make sure to warm up and stretch your body before and after each game.  
  • Keep yourself hydrated to maintain peak performance and to help your body cool itself while you are running.  
  • Wear protective gears like shin guards and use soccer shoes with molded cleats to protect your feet and ankle. 
  • Monitor your performance and participation and make sure you are not overexerting yourself to avoid muscle overuse.  
  • Have a well-stocked first-aid kit ready so you can immediately attend to any injury. 

Get Effective Physical Therapy Treatment At AmeriCare Physical Therapy

In any sport, injuries are always bound to happen. Thankfully, it’s easy to recover with professional physical therapy help. Let our team of PT and OT experts at AmeriCare Physical Therapy assist in training your body so you can get back on your feet and prevent chronic and recurring injuries. 

At AmeriCare Physical Therapy, we offer quality orthopedic care, treatments for spinal conditions and sports injuries, and joint replacements, among others. Visit us at any of our offices in New Jersey or call us to learn more about our services. 

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