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Children's Health

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Soccer's Popularity Spurs Youth Injuries

Analysis Finds Injury Rates Are Highest Among Kids Under 15

Types of Soccer Injuries continued...

They report that:

  • Girls' and boys' teams may expect four and 3.5 injuries per season, respectively.
  • Boys have a higher risk of suffering injuries during games.
  • Knee injuries are more common in soccer played outdoors than inside.
  • Uneven playing surfaces can cause excessive "loading" of ligaments and muscles and may contribute to improper landing after jumping.
  • A common injury in young players is Sever disease, or technically, calcaneal apophysitis, which is attributable, at least in part, to playing on hard fields with cleats that don't have enough heel and arch support.
  • Most injuries result either from player-to-player contact or player contact with the ground, the ball, or goalposts.
  • Contact injuries occur mostly when players are tackling the ball, being tackled, or hitting the ball with their heads.
  • Ankle injuries account for 16% to 29% of injuries to the lower extremities -- the most common problem. Knee injuries are the problem in 7% to 36% of injured players.
  • Upper extremity injuries represent 3% to 12% of total injuries, with the shoulder and the wrist, hand, or elbow being affected most.

The researchers say a common serious injury that doctors see is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) -- a tear in one of the knee ligaments that joins the upper and lower leg bones.

Previous research has indicated that female collegiate soccer players have a 2.8 times greater risk of ACL rupture than male players do, the researchers write, but some evidence suggests the increased risk is closer to four to six times for females.

Soccer can be good for health, the researchers say, but children, adolescents, and young adults should be encouraged to participate often in other forms of physical activity in addition to soccer.

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