As one of the most prevalent occupational hazards, injury plagues almost every footballer’s career. According to data released by the Royal College of Podiatry, Premier League players are at a greater risk of injury than players in all other European leagues.
Footballers have more complex healthcare needs than many other types of professional athletes in the UK. Whether you’re managing a team or thinking of working your way up to a professional level, it’s worth knowing the risks and how to manage them.
What are the most common injuries in football?
With the average player needing between 15 and 24 days of recovery time each season, injury recurrence rates are alarming. But one of the biggest challenges faced by players is knowing when to return: if they wait too long, they miss valuable career progress, but if they play too soon, then they risk worsening their injury and needing more time off.
A few of the most common injury types in the sport include:
- Ankle sprains: While they vary in severity, ankle sprains take recovery time and can seriously hinder a player’s season. Since the sport can be fast-paced and demands agile movements, it’s easy for the ankle to slide in complex footwork or during a tackle. A serious sprain could mean several weeks off the pitch and often involves torn ligaments.
- Knee injuries: According to the Telegraph, there’s an ACL epidemic in the Premier League. This is an incredibly painful injury where the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the key ligaments that stabilises the knee, is torn. It usually requires surgery, so full recovery might take up to a year.
- Muscle strains: Typically, strain injuries are caused by over-exertion. When some of the fibres within a muscle can’t cope with demands placed on them, they can incur microscopic tears. These injuries frequently affect muscles in the lower legs, including hamstrings, knee ligaments and quadriceps.
- Concussion and head injuries: National sporting bodies including the FA are now increasingly aware of the prevalence of concussion in football. Heading the ball is associated with minor head injuries, which may not be immediately obvious. Head injuries, no matter their severity, should never be overlooked.
How can footballers protect their fitness?
- Injury coverage and rehabilitation
When a player gets injured and needs to spend several months off in recovery, their income can be jeopardised – so professional support networks should be maintained. Additionally, if there’s a need for legal investigations regarding delayed or incorrect treatment, medical negligence lawyers can provide targeted support.
- Comprehensive healthcare services
The physically demanding nature of professional football calls for prompt, high-quality healthcare. Private care plans provide access to sports specialists, rehabilitation services, and tailored recovery programmes.
- Enhanced privacy and control
Footballers need privacy and control over their healthcare decisions. Private, comprehensive healthcare plans also serve as a lifeline to maintain confidentiality and direct athletes to the most specialised physicians in the world, ensuring a faster recovery to the pitch.
Working towards career security in football
Long-term career planning ensures ultimate financial and health security for professional athletes. Getting covered with specialist insurance is one way to provide peace of mind for a comfortable retirement, but footballers should ensure physio, private treatment, and regular health checks too.