If you have children who play soccer or know families that have kids who play soccer, you will find this newsletter very informative. Soccer has been identified as one of the top three sports contributing to injury rates in Canadian youth (ages 11-18). Ankle injuries are the most common type of injury in youth soccer, followed closely by knee and groin/thigh injuries. What is even more concerning is that studies are showing that knee and ankle injuries can result in an increased risk of early post-traumatic osteoarthritis later in life. Long term follow-up studies show that 12-20 years post knee injury (ex. meniscus and/or ACL injury), greater than 50 % will have knee osteoarthritis in comparison with 5% in the uninjured population. Osteoarthritis leads to disability and inactivity which is why preventing injuries in youth is so critical.
Recently FIFA developed an injury prevention program for soccer called the FIFA 11+. It consists of a 20-minute warm-up that consists of 15 exercises. Included in these exercises is running, strength training, plyometric exercises, and balance exercises. The exercises are designed with three levels of increasing difficulty and the program should be completed before each training and each game.
Since the introduction of this program, studies have shown that there has been a decrease in all injuries of 32 % and of lower body injuries by 29%. Also, it has been shown that high adherence to the FIFA 11+ program also has performance benefits.
Since the introduction of the program, FIFA has realized that coaches are the key to making the program effective. When the coach is properly trained in the program and motivated to use it on a regular basis, adherence by athletes is greater. Because there are so many soccer clubs, it would be difficult for FIFA to train everyone. To solve this problem, FIFA has decided to train health professionals (such as physiotherapists and chiropractors) who then take their knowledge back to their communities and have an important role in educating club administrators, coaches, players and parents about injury prevention.
Drs. Maja and Cameron Edgar are both trained in the FIFA 11+ program and have already been training coaches in the Burlington, Hamilton and Mississauga soccer clubs. Please contact them if you would like to have them come out to your soccer club and train your coaches and players in the FIFA 11+ program. This training is a free service to the clubs.