How to keep up with Ronaldo, Messi and Zlatan!
To keep playing the world game once you have left the safety of your bullet-proof 20’s, it's important to recognise what’s necessary to keep you on the pitch. This blog will look at four of the most common musculoskeletal injuries that occur with athletes in their 30’s.
1. Calf and Achilles tendon
This is the definition of an ‘old man injury’!
This chart pretty much says it all. Aging is the single greatest risk factor for tendon disorders. Most athletes have or do stretch out their calf and Achilles prior to exercise, but how many have put effort into strengthening these structures? Strengthening can help better prepare these tissues for the high forces applied and generated during a game of soccer. The Single Leg Heel Raise (straight and bent knee) will add strength and power to this muscle group.
Once you can perform 20 of these exercises with nil difficulty, you can progress to performing both variations on a step.
We have all seen the aftermath of a pinged or pulled hamstring. The desperate clutch of the leg, the frantic stiff legged hop to the bench, the forlorn look of resignation on the bench. As the most common muscular injury, much research has been conducted looking for an answer. In a really positive development, it has been shown that performing a regime of eccentric hamstring strengthening can reduce the risk of injury by 51%! The key component of this program is the Nordic Hamstring Exercise. This exercise will strengthen and lengthen the hamstring muscles, increasing their capacity to stretch, control and lengthen under load.
A program of 10 repetitions per session is a great place to start. Eventually you can progress to three sets.
The quadriceps, or ‘drivers’ are the key muscle group when it comes to knee stability. Most soccer players have plenty of strength in this group. However, it is often a lack of flexibility or ROM (range of motion) that leads to problems. A tight quad can cause the kneecaps to track poorly and can make it difficult to extend the hip when kicking. So, a consistent program of stretching can be beneficial.
Three repetitions per session on each leg, with a short 2-3 second hold, should be sufficient. There is no problem holding the stretch for longer if you feel it gives you more benefit.
The rapid, repeated, and unpredictable lateral movement that occurs on the soccer pitch makes players very prone to injury in this area. Strains of the groin (Adductor) muscles can linger for extended periods, and significantly reduce your ability to get on the park. Again, research has conclusively shown that strengthening this muscle group can have a marked influence on this type of injury. Use of the Copenhagen Groin exercise has been shown to reduce injury rates by 41%.
Start out with exercise 1. When you can complete 20 repetitions with no loss of control, move onto the next level.
In conclusion, if you want to keep up with Ronaldo, Messi and Z, it is going to take a little bit more than a slow jog around the oval and your lucky pair of socks. Try adding in some or all of these therapeutic interventions, and you will reap the rewards. Good luck! If you have any questions, want some help addressing a lingering issue, or just want more advice and guidance on your musculoskeletal health, please contact us at Glenelg Physio.
Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy)
Diploma of Mechanical Diagnosis and Theory (McKenzie Institute)
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