Football injuries

Two of our leading specialists answer common questions about football injuries and prevention.

Callum Clark
The most common injury I see is the ankle “inversion” injury - the sprained ankle. The vast majority recover fully with simple rehabilitation measures, but some remain painful and swollen. Occasionally the ankle remains unstable, leading to repeated sprains and significant loss of playing time as a result. Sometimes repeated minor trauma leads to “impingement” in the ankle joint, where a small piece of bone or scar tissue catches painfully as the joint moves. Other common football foot and ankle injuries include metatarsal fractures and big toe joint injuries.


Donna Gormley
The most common injuries that I have seen in professional footballers have been injuries to the knee and ankle joints. These can include ligament strains, cartilage damage and fractures to the ankle. Footballers also tend to get muscular strains which most commonly affect the calf, groin and thigh muscles (hamstrings and quadriceps).

Callum Clark
As with all sports, appropriate training and warm-up drills are protective against muscle and tendon injuries in particular. Ankle strength is helped by balancing type or “proprioceptive” exercises, which help prevent accidental inversion of the ankle during play. The most important thing is to avoid re-injury from rushing back into play when not fully recovered.


Donna Gormley
To give yourself the best chance of avoiding injury, you need to have good movement control around the back, pelvis, hip, knee, ankle and foot. It is also important to have a good level of cardiovascular fitness too, as you're more likely to pick up injuries as you fatigue.

Callum Clark
Most niggles can be successfully assessed and treated by a physiotherapist or other sports therapist, but ongoing or repeated problems should prompt a referral to a specialist.


Donna Gormley
This obviously depends where the pain or niggle is and how it started. If it is related to a tendon or joint problem I would be more inclined to seek early advice.

Callum Clark
When an ankle problem doesn’t respond to rehabilitation techniques, then assessment with an MRI scan and a consultation with a specialist is often the next appropriate step. The treatment of these problems depends entirely on the type of injury and may involve simply more rehabilitation or targeted ankle injection, but sometimes arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery or ligament repair are necessary to achieve return to sport.


Donna Gormley
This would depend on the type of injury. To increase range of movement following an injury, rehabilitation could consist of an exercise programme, hydrotherapy and/or the anti-gravity treadmill. Generally hydrotherapy and the anti-gravity treadmill are beneficial in patients who are not able fully weight bear. To improve movement control this encompasses active exercises, core type exercises, balance exercises and some types of muscle strengthening exercises. Sport specific exercises would need to be incorporated in to the rehabilitation programme. Both muscular endurance and strength exercises would also need to be undertaken which generally involves weight. Cardiovascular fitness would be undertaken to try and maintain this, depending on the stage of the injury.

Callum Clark
The vast majority of ankle sprains recover with rehabilitation within 6 weeks of injury, so if you have still not recovered by this stage or are suffering repeated injuries, you should seek referral to a specialist.


Donna Gormley
Generally, you should seek advice for any pain or niggle which is not getting better or worsening. You should also seek advice for any niggle that is affecting your performance.

Callum Clark
Yes, I support Liverpool Football Club..


Donna Gormley
I do have a soft spot for Leeds United which was the first football team/club that I worked for. I still look out for their results.

Football infographic

Football Injuries Infographic

Take a look at our infographics where you can learn more about football injuries and how to prevent them.

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