The 2018 World Cup is upon us! If you are anything like the team at Lab Health, your competitive juices will be flowing. You’ll too want to hit the pitch with your friends and try and recreate the magic of your favorite players!
Since we are rehab professionals…. The World Cup causes us to think about the soccer injuries we see in clinic. Because of that, this is the perfect time to talk about injury prevention before hitting the field. After all, the best cure is prevention and exercise is the best prevention!
A quick background…
Some of the most common injuries in soccer involve knee ligaments (ACL, MCL etc.), ankle sprains, groin, hamstring and calf strains. These injuries can range from minor to severe and can potentially keep an athlete out of the game for an extended period of time. In fact, up to a quarter of a million Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries happen in Canada and the US each year (1) potentially leading to significant time away from soccer and increasing their risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life. Yikes!!
Fortunately, research shows that with consistent proper 'neuromuscular training' (I know, big words make us glaze over but this one is important so bare with me) can reduce many soccer related injuries. Luckily, there is a FANTASTIC resource for neuromuscular training and injury prevention specifically for soccer that is freely available with a quick Google search (or by clicking here for the PDF) called FIFA 11+.
What is FIFA 11+?
FIFA 11+ is a simple warm up program for soccer players aged 14 and up. It contains a well laid out series of neuromuscular exercises aimed at building proper strength and form to help decrease the number of soccer related injuries.
The program was developed by a team of experts and backed by research proving the program’s effectiveness. Studies have shown a 29% decrease in training injuries, 37% decrease in match injuries and up to 50% decrease in major injuries for those who stick to regular implementation of these exercises (2 or more times per week) (2).
Not only has FIFA 11+ been shown to significantly reduce the injuries in male and female players, consistent implementation has other benefits as it has been shown to improve muscle strength, coordination and performance (3,4).
How long does it take to complete and how often should I do it? Do I need fancy equipment?
All you’ll need to complete this warm-up is an open field or gym, a ball, a buddy, a few cones, and 20 minutes of your time! It’s recommended that you complete this warm up before every training session (or at least 2 times weekly) and a shorten version before every game.
Some of the exercises don’t look all that different from what I already do?
The program is designed to replace your current warm-up. Although the exercise are not anything new or groundbreaking, the real benefit is realized with commitment to consistently completing the warm-up with attention to proper form and control during the exercises. FIFA 11+ provides a step-by step guide with useful pictures demonstrating proper form that will help prevent potentially harmful joint movements. Check out the video below for an example of what we are talking about.
This is an example of good form while performing a FIFA 11+ jumping exercise. Notice how she is landing on the balls of her feet, hips and knees have sufficient bend and her knees stay in line with the middle of the feet. All of this allows for proper support and control at the knee and ankle joints.
Would this benefit me if I play other sports?
Yes! A recent study has shown the benefits of regular adherence to FIFA 11+ has decreased the number of injuries in elite male basketball players (5).
If you are a young soccer player or older recreational player, consider replacing your current warm-up with FIFA 11+. You will start to see the benefits with committing to twice weekly for 10-12 weeks! Start incorporating these exercises early, often and continue them throughout your playing days to reduce injury! If you would like some guidance on form, frequency and force of these exercises see a Physiotherapist or Kinesiologist familiar in neuromuscular retraining to help keep you playing your best and preventing injuries!
Campbell, C. J., Carson, J. D., Diaconescu, E. D., Celebrini, R., Rizzardo, M. R., Godbout, V., ... & Constantini, N. (2014). Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine Position Statement: neuromuscular training programs can decrease anterior cruciate ligament injuries in youth soccer players. Clinical journal of sport medicine, 24(3), 263-267.
Barengo, N. C., Meneses-Echávez, J. F., Ramírez-Vélez, R., Cohen, D. D., Tovar, G., & Bautista, J. E. C. (2014). The impact of the FIFA 11+ training program on injury prevention in football players: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 11(11), 11986-12000.
Bizzini M, Dvorak J. FIFA 11+: an effective programme to prevent football injuries in various player groups worldwide—a narrative review. Br J Sports Med 2015;49:577-579.
Longo, U. G., Loppini, M., Berton, A., Marinozzi, A., Maffulli, N., & Denaro, V. (2012). The FIFA 11+ program is effective in preventing injuries in elite male basketball players: a cluster randomized controlled trial. The American journal of sports medicine, 40(5), 996-1005.