Physiotherapy for Footballers

Football is an extremely popular high speed contact sport, enjoyed by millions worldwide. Unfortunately the risk of injury with football is high and is often the result of a traumatic event, for example, colliding with another player or falling awkwardly after jumping for a ball. Injuries can also be caused over a period of time as the ongoing stresses and strains of the game take their toll on the body. Continuing to play with a slight niggle or ache often leads to a more serious injury that will require more intensive attention.

The aim of physiotherapy is to treat and fully rehabilitate the player in order to prevent further injury and to return the player to training in the shortest possible time.

Our Physiotherapists at PhysioQinetics will work with you to achieve the following:

1. To diagnose the injury and the possible cause giving advice on rehabilitation times
2. To promote healing of the injured tissues and to control the inflammation and pain
3. To thoroughly rehabilitate the injury restoring full flexibility, strength, balance & proprioception and correcting any muscle imbalances that may have developed
4. To discuss strategies to reduce recurrence of the injury

If proper management is not undertaken, you may return to playing too soon despite instability, proprioceptive disturbance, muscle tightness and muscle weakness. This will greatly enhance the risk of prolonged pain and increase the chance of re-injury. Your performance will also be impaired for the entire time that you are not correctly rehabilitated.

Common Football Injuries
Most football injuries affect the lower part of the body. The groin, pelvis, hip and thigh, knee, calf and foot & ankle are the sites most commonly affected.

The most common football injuries are:

Ankle sprain

An ankle sprain refers to damage to the soft tissue (mainly ligaments) around the ankle and is usually caused when the ankle is twisted inwards. This injury is usually caused by twisting the ankle playing on uneven ground or from the impact of a direct tackle. The ligament on the outside of the foot is the most commonly affected. With an ankle sprain you often experience ankle swelling and pain especially with weight bearing and twisting movements of the foot.

Hamstring strain

A hamstring injury usually occurs when the hamstring muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits and the muscle tissue becomes torn. This typically occurs during sprinting activities. The degree of strain or ‘tear’ is classified according to the severity as a grade I, II or III. As the hamstring muscles work over both the hip and knee joint they can also become susceptible to injury due to overuse and fatigue.

Knee Ligament Injuries

e.g Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
An anterior cruciate ligament tear is common in football due to the repetitive changes in direction and sudden turns. The ACL is a deep ligament that joins the thigh bone to the shin bone. The role of this ligament is to prevent excessive forward movement of the shin in relation to the thigh and also to prevent too much rotation at the knee joint. The ACL, with the other ligaments, also has a crucial role in maintaining joint stability. Injury to the ACL often occurs from landing from a jump onto a bent knee then twisting, or from landing on an overextended knee. Damage can also occur with direct contact to the knee from another player.
e.g Medial Collateral Ligament Sprain
This inside ligament of the knee joins the thigh bone to the shin bone. Its primary role, as well as providing stability to the knee, is to support the inside of the joint. This ligament is therefore usually injured when the outside of the knee joint is struck. This impact causes the outside of the knee to buckle, and the inside to stretch. This is common during ‘clipping’ in football. This can be a cumulative effect with ongoing stresses or by a sudden greater impact.

Knee Cartilage Tear

A tear in the cartilage of the knee is a fairly common in football caused by a forceful twist. The cartilage damaged is actually one of the two menisci within the joint. As the knee joint bends the thigh bone should roll, spin and glide on the top surface of the shin bone. If there is a rotation caused by a twist whilst the joint is bearing weight then the menisci can get jammed between the two bones. Depending upon the force, a tear may occur.


Hernia’s and groin pain are common in football due to the stresses to the pelvic region through kicking, sprinting and turning. The two most common conditions of the pelvis to affect footballers are an Inguinal hernia and Gilmores groin (sports hernia). If you have a hernia you will typically have pain and stiffness in the groin area after a game where activities such as getting out of the car or the bed are painful. You may also notice a small lump or protrusion in your groin.