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Close to half a million soccer injuries occur each year in the United States. Don’t let injuries bog you or your youth soccer player’s season down. Follow these easy steps to help prevent injury this year.

“As the AYSO team orthopedist and having treated many soccer injuries in the past, I’ve noticed some common ways to improve the safety and enjoyment of soccer,” says Dr. Raj Makim, M.D., sports medicine specialist at Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron. “There are many things that players and coaches can do before the game to help prevent injury from occurring.”

Here are some useful injury prevention tips for coaches and players provided by Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron:

  • Dress appropriately — Wearing the right equipment is the first step in preventing injury. Have your child or team wear proper shin guards and cleats.
  • Check the field for any holes or unsafe areas — This can decrease the risk of spraining an ankle.
  • Take time to warm up — A 5-8 minute jog followed by dynamic stretches such as high stepping, lunges, jumping jacks, and lateral hops is recommended before the actual practice or game activity. Passive stretching of calves, quads, and hamstrings is best performed after practice, which can decrease muscular soreness.
  • Know basic first aid — Being knowledgeable about first aid is important for coaches should any injuries occur such as muscle strains, fractures, minor cuts and bruises, etc.
  • Drink fluids — Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially in hot weather. A half-liter of a sports drink is a good way to hydrate before playing. During play, water breaks should be given frequently depending on the weather and the intensity of activity. Know the signs of dehydration and heat illness.
  • Be sure that the soccer goals are well padded — This will decrease the likelihood of any head injuries from players colliding with the post.

Have a safe and fun soccer season! For additional information about sports injuries and sports medicine, visit us online at www.oaph.com.