Soccer – 5 most common injuries

Published: 31 May 2022

Soccer – 5 most common injuries

In football, players are required to perform sudden and repetitive accelerations and decelerations, rapid changes of direction, jumping and landing tasks and be involved in contact situations such as tackling. This heightens the chance and risk of an injury occurring. 

What does the research say?

Research has consistently shown that the most common soccer injuries occur in the LOWER LIMBS (60-90%).

Most Common Injuries – Male Vs Female
Male Female
Hamstring Strain Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears
Quadriceps Strain Lateral Ankle Sprain
Lateral Ankle Sprain Quadricep Strain
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears Hamstring Strain
Adductor Strain Adductor Strain
  • Males are more prone to muscular injuries due to overuse from repetitive physical stress and reduced recovery 
  • Females more prone to ligamentous injuries due to lower extremity neuromuscular control, joint laxity, biomechanics and hormonal regulation. 
  • About 2/3 of football injuries are classified as traumatic – contact or non-contact injuries – and the other 1/3 is caused by overuse. 
  • Injuries primarily occur during the INITIAL OR FINAL 15 MINUTES OF THE MATCH.

What can we learn from all of this?

  1. An appropriate and effective warm-up is imperative.

  2. Fatigue can play a large role in injury occurrence.

  3. Integrating neuromuscular control, movement mechanics, core strength, joint stability and lower limb strength is essential.

Hamstring Strain

A hamstring strain involves tears in the muscle fibres of the hamstring muscles. A high mechanical stress is placed on the hamstring from either a rapid extensive contraction or a repetitive functional overload of the hamstring muscle. The extent of the strain is dependent on how many fibres are torn. 

Physio hamstring

Hamstring injury – note severe bruising

Quadriceps Strain

Similar to the hamstring strain, a quadriceps strain involves tears in the muscle fibres of the quadricep. The quadricep can be overloaded by repetitive microtrauma to the muscle or from a traumatic rapid eccentric contraction. The extent of the strain is dependent on how many fibres are torn. 

Lateral Ankle Sprain

A lateral ankle sprain is formerly known as a rolled ankle, where the ligaments on the outer aspect of the ankle are stretched and possibly torn. This level of the sprain can cause swelling and bruising, and in severe cases small fractures.

ankle sprain physio

Inversion injury leading to damage to the lateral ankle ligaments.

ACL Tears

The ACL is a primary stabiliser of the knee, resisting rotation and tibia movements forward. 

Primarily injured through non-contact measures during a cut and plant movement, being a sudden change in direction or speed whilst the foot is firmly planted. When an ACL injury is present, symptoms of instability or the knee giving way can be present. 

Physio ACL

The smaller image demonstrates a tear in the ACL which can be partial or complete.

Adductor Strain

An adductor strain involves tears in the muscle fibres of the adductor muscles from either repetitive functional overload or a forceful contraction such as change of direction or kicking mechanism. The extent of the strain is dependent on how many fibres are torn.

We are a few weeks into soccer season and by now, you may be or know an injured player.

Adductor muscles are in the groin and help stabilize the pelvis and lower extremity during the stance phase of gait, and assist in postural control.


If you would like to learn more – check out these

  • Pfirrmann, D., Herbst, M., Ingelfinger, P., Simon, P., & Tug, S. (2016). Analysis of injury incidences in male professional adult and elite youth soccer players: A Systematic Review. Journal Of Athletic Training51(5), 410-424. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.6.03
  • Robles-Palazón, F., López-Valenciano, A., De Ste Croix, M., Oliver, J., García-Gómez, A., Sainz de Baranda, P., & Ayala, F. (2021). Epidemiology of injuries in male and female youth football players: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal Of Sport And Health Science. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2021.10.002

Other articles by The Healthy Body Company team

And just for fun  – a photo of our own Tom Hamilton

Tom Hamilton Physiotherapist

Tom Hamilton – Principal Physiotherapist, Mount Annan