By Jenny Styles
Any sport where you place an unusual demand on your muscles is going to result in strains and “pulled muscles”, and soccer is no exception. The good news is that this usually is not severe, and you will be able to get back out on the field. Be aware that the muscles are going to be very stiff and sore for two to five days afterwards, making movement uncomfortable; however, getting these muscles loosened back up will go far in relieving the pain, and you may find that by the end of the day you barely feel those muscles that were screaming at you when you rolled out of bed.
To this end, a warm shower will help to loosen the muscles. The best thing you can do for them after that is to stretch your way through the pain. Although it is going to feel like the torments of hell when you attempt to get these muscles to work you will find that once you have loosened them back up you are able to move much more easily. If you have a severely strained muscle attempt to avoid overdoing it, however; while a little stretching will help to loosen it back up, overdoing it will just result in your injury becoming more uncomfortable and taking longer to heal. Your body will be able to tell you what it can and cannot handle. Applying a muscle rub intended for over-extended muscles such as BenGay can provide some relief as well; although the smell will be enough to make you want to run from the room the benefits to your aching muscles are innumerable.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. The number one severe muscle related injury suffered by soccer players is a pulled hamstring. Be very careful; although your hamstrings are probably going to ache when you first begin to play due to the fact that they are not used to the demand you are going to be putting on them it is possible to severely injure your hamstring and make walking impossible. As you can well imagine, that puts playing soccer right off the list! If you have injured your hamstring and the pain exceeds that which you would expect from a pulled muscle talk to your coach or physician; a single game (or even a single season) is not worth the misery that will be visited upon you if your hamstring is not given the opportunity to heal properly.
Another exception to the rule are strained ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are the fibrils that connect your muscles to the bone, and they are often damaged when you are playing a sport such as soccer that places heavy demands on the muscles. A strained ligament or tendon will need proper time to rest and recover in order to ensure that it heals properly and you are able to come back to the game in fit, fighting form. A doctor will be able to confirm whether or not you have an injury more severe than a simple pulled muscle; if you are in more pain than a pulled muscle would warrant be sure to get it checked out, and abide by your doctor’s decision.
Although it is extraordinarily frustrating, if you have suffered a broken bone you are going to have to ride the bench until it has had the opportunity to heal. Bones take longer than muscles to heal, as the body reproduces its bone cells much more slowly than those that comprise its tissues, and if the bone is not allowed to set properly it will not heal at the right angle and you will either have to live the rest of your life with a deformity in your bone structure which may permanently impede your mobility or have the doctor rebreak and reset the bone, which is going to be extremely painful (remember how much fun it was the first time you did it?) and is not going to guarantee that there will be no consequences from the bone healing improperly the first time.
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November 11, 2008