Is it Real or is it a Dive?
As I watch the World Cup and see a player writhing on the field after each hit or fall, it makes me wonder how often a player is truly injured. What type of back injuries do they get playing this sport at its highest level?
I’ve been told that many of the “injuries” we see on the field are played up to get the attention of the referees on such a big field. But sometimes they do get hurt. It is a sneaky, physical, and high energy sport where run ins are frequent, muscle strains and sprains are commonplace and back injuries are common and feared. In the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian striker, Neymar, was carried off the field with a fractured vertebra. With proper care and rest, he is back, and better than ever.
During throw-in’s, the forces to the upper torso and core of the lower back can be stressed, leading to injury to the upper and lower back.
During running, cutting direction, and kicking the ball, there is tremendous twisting to the lower back, and sacroiliac joints. These activities can also lead to back injuries. Sprains, strains and herniations are all a possibility but like the pros, how you prepare is key.
To prevent spine injuries, since you probably don’t have the medical staff and trainers Neymar has, make sure you warm up your muscles with a light jog for 5-10 minutes. Stretching exercises of the arms, legs, neck and torso help limber the muscles and ligaments.
During training, make sure to concentrate on building your core muscles as this will protect against injury.
For the older players, if you have neck arthritis think hard before heading that cross into the goal. While a goal is exciting, the potential pain of neck arthritis, or even worse, a neck disk herniation should give you pause.
If you are playing in the World Cup, we understand if you don’t pause.
- Whalan M, Lovell R, McCunn R, Sampson JA. The incidence and burden of time loss injury in Australian men's sub-elite football (soccer): A single season prospective cohort study. J Sci Med Sport. 2018 May 31; PubMed PMID: 29884595