Sports Injuries

26 September 2016

Most common soccer injuries

Indoor and outdoor soccer is great exercise, but it's not without its risks. These are the most common soccer injuries.

Soccer is one of the most popular amateur sports in the world, yet it is not without its risks.

Injury to the ankle

The most common injuries soccer players are prone to are lower-body ones resulting from a kick to the leg or twisting of the knee, or can result from overuse of a muscle, tendon, or bone. 

So which one is safer – indoor or outdoor soccer? According to the research, they both carry the same risk, with the most common injury being to the ankle. 

Read: Training to avoid soccer injuries

A study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine focused on the injury rates and risk factors for injury in adolescent indoor and outdoor soccer. The researchers studied a group of teenagers aged 13–17 years and after the 20-week study concluded they found that  "there was no significant difference between injury rates by age group or gender in indoor soccer compared with outdoor soccer".

Common soccer injuries

Sprains and strains are the most common lower extremity injuries.  The severity can vary from a cartilage tear to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains in the knee which often require surgery.

Read: Sport star injuries: We all love a great comeback!

Other lower body injuries include:

- Shin splints (soreness in the calf)

- Patellar tendinitis (pain in the knee)

- Achilles tendinitis (pain in the back of the ankle)

- Groin pulls 

- Thigh and calf muscle strains

- Stress fractures 

Although more rare than lower body injuries, the upper body can also suffer injury from falling and landing incorrectly or colliding with another player which can result wrist sprains, wrist fractures, and shoulder dislocations.

Concussion is a risk in any sport and soccer is no exception and can occur from a fall or a collision with another player. 

Treatment of injuries

While the majority of soccer injuries are minor, effectively treated with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation), others may require evaluation from a medical professional before continuing with the game.

Injuries such as tendinitis as a result of overuse can be effectively treated with rest from soccer for as long as necessary. 

Read more:

Symptoms of sports injuries

Causes of sports injuries

Preventing sports injuries

Preventing soccer injuries; Rob Burger, MD, Kenneth Fine, MD; Stop Sports Injuries;
Common soccer injuries. Diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation; Sports Med. 1997 Jan;23(1):21-32; Primary Care Sports Medicine, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, USA; 
Risk Factors for Injury in Indoor Compared With Outdoor Adolescent Soccer; Carolyn A. Emery, PT, PhD* and  Willem H. Meeuwisse, MD, PhD; From the Sport Medicine Centre, Roger Jackson Centre for Health and Wellness Research, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; The American Journal of Sports Medicine;


Ask the Expert

Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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