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Injuries are a common occurrence in soccer but many players do not prepare their bodies properly for the long season ahead.  Despite their efforts, players are making common mistakes and injuries are still occurring to them.  There are, however, some tips to follow that can help reduce your chances of injury and keep you in better shape.

Freak accident injuries: unfortunately freak injuries do occur in soccer many of which are knee related.  It is hard to know when these things might happen but many of them can be field related.  Make sure you are wearing the proper shoes depending on the playing surface.  If the field is soft and or wet then you’ll want six studs.  They will provide you with the right grip so that you are not slipping and falling, potentially awkwardly which could result in all kinds of injuries.  If the field is hard then regular cleats should do fine.  Make sure your studs have not been worn down too far.  After all you want traction in your movements.  On the other side make sure your cleats are not too   

Warm-up: as boring as this may it is extremely important in the game of soccer.  Start by warming up the muscles.  Do not stretch first as your muscles will not be prepared for these movements.  A 10-15 minute light jog should be sufficient before starting your stretching routine. 

Stretching: be sure to stretch after your muscles are warm.  If you stretch and your muscles are cold there is a greater likely hood that you may tear something.  More often teams are incorporating dynamic stretching vs static stretching into their warm-ups.  A combination of both is best.  Dynamic stretching is moving and stretching at the same time.  If any parts of your body require extra attention when stretching then be sure to stretch these areas.  Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 10 seconds and then shake the muscle out.  Repeating the same stretch a few times is very good.

Michael Owen of Manchester United is an example of a professional player who has had trouble with hamstring injuries his entire career.  Knowing this he has special treatment before and after every session specifically on his hamstrings to prevent injuries.  If you have a similar concern then it is best to treat them with properly.       

Stretch after Cool-Down: a common mistake by many soccer players is not stretching after their cool-down.  After every training session and game you should properly cool down with a five minute jog followed by stretching.  If not your muscles will tighten up.  Your muscles have just gone through rigorous exercise and stretching will help prevent this tightening up from occurring.  If you do not stretch after training or game then your muscles will very uncomfortable and even painful over the coming days.      

Agility: once you have completed your stretching exercises the best follow-up routine are quick agility movements with cones.  This helps build speed and to train the body for similar type movements that will occur in a game.  A soccer player needs to be fast and have quick feet.  Cone agility work helps best prepare you for this.      

Treating injuries:  it is best to see your team doctor or personal physician regarding your injury.  Do not try and be brave by playing through injury.  It is better to play at 100% than 80% and hurting.  Not only that but if you play hurt then you risk further injury to yourself.  You also risk getting new injuries altogether.

Age: age certainly becomes a factor to consider.  As we get older performances we do not necessarily become worse.  Ryan Giggs of Manchester United is playing some of his best soccer ever and he is 36 years old.  The rest time between training sessions and games should increase as your body will take longer to recover.  Depending on the severity of the injury you will be able to return to the game of soccer but the rehabilitation time will increase as you get older.  Ryan Giggs could only have had such a long career at the highest level by properly taking care of his body. 

If you do not train properly injuries will occur.  No matter your skill level or level of competition it is best to ease into the training.  Start with a proper warm-up, followed by stretching.  Be sure to include agility and speed exercises in your training and pre-game warm-up routine as this will prepare you for similar type movements in a game.  As we age we must take care of our bodies and stretching is just one of the many ways of doing so. 

What sort of injury prevention tips do you have?

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