How to Peak Your Soccer Performance and Minimize The Risk of Injury

Soccer News: John Gallucci Jr. is the MLS Medical Coordinator and the former Head Trainer of the New York Red BullsMLS team and a Sports Medicine consultant for professional athletes in the NHLNFLNBAMLB, and USA Wrestling. Gallucci, Jr. is also President of JAG Physical Therapy & JAG Pediatric Therapy.

Tournament season is kicking off all across America and playing multiple games in a short amount of time increases the risk of injury. Gallucci, Jr. provides tips for youth soccer players to help minimize the risk of injury and to maximize recovery — these are the cold facts on when youth soccer players should ice.

We know youth soccer players — and often even their coaches and parents — can be confused about when and how long to ice body parts. We often hear …

How long should a soccer player ice?

When you have pushed yourself hard on the soccer field, ice is an important recovery tool.

Ice – not heat – should always be used during the acute or initial phase of the healing process — which typically lasts 48-72 hours following injury. This is the time frame which involves the most swelling and pain.

Youth Soccer News - The Cold Facts: Soccer Players Need Ice Baths - Real Benefits for youth soccer tournament playersIf applying a regular wet-ice pack, instead of a chemical cold pack, it can be placed directly on the skin for 15-20 minutes or until the numbing sensation kicks in.

If using a chemical ice pack, please remember to use a barrier such as a towel in between the skin and the ice pack as to eliminate the possibility of a chemical burn.

It is important to remember though that if a child is consistently complaining of pain in any body part they should be seen by a healthcare professional to rule out a serious injury and potential for further harm.

Youth Soccer News - See a doctor if a youth player complains of ongoing painPeople also want to know if the new, fancy – and sometimes expensive – products on the market work better than a regular ice bag.

For example, do compression ankle wraps work better than an old fashioned ice bag?

Good, old fashioned ice bags have worked for centuries and even with the great advancements in medicine, are still a gold standard when it comes to cryotherapy.

With that being said, there are situations when an ice cup used for ice massage on smaller body parts or a Game Ready which incorporates a pumping or compression cycle to help the body rid the injury site of long term swelling are warranted and helpful.

If you don’t have access to these more advanced products getting an ice pack on the area as quickly as possible will still get the job done.

Injury Prevention MedicationWhat about over the counter pain medicine? Should players take pain medication before a game or anti-inflammatories after game?

When it comes to taking pain medication pre, during or post-game I always advise speaking with a healthcare professional first.

If the child is in enough pain where pain medication is warranted to get them through a game, medical attention may be needed.

Pain is a warning sign from the body that something is wrong and it shouldn’t be masked before determining the cause of the pain.

Speak with your physician to determine if and how much is safe for your child to take.

All across America, many soccer games are played in hot weather – It is important for soccer players to stay cool on the soccer field. What are the best tips for playing in heat and minimizing the risk of injury?

Youth soccer news - Hydrate - the importance of hydration for soccer players - news on GoalNationPre-hydate, Hydrate and Rehydrate 

Water consumption should begin 72 hours before activity by drinking six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. During activity, one should drink six ounces of fluid (preferably water) every 15 minutes and should then rehydrate following activity with 32 ounces of liquid per 1 pound of fluid loss.

Clothing Choice

One should wear loose fitted, light weight and light colored clothing when exercising in the sun. The light color will help reflect the sun, the light weight material will aid in quick evaporation of sweat and the loose fit will allow for air to circulate between the skin and the material.

Find Shade

If possible try to place the sideline bench in the shade and remain in the shade in between games. Although it may be hot outside reducing the amount of sun exposure can aid in cooling down one’s body.

Youth soccer news - Ice bath in an inexpensive kids baby pool works well during a youth soccer tournamentExtended Injury Prevention Tips.
Ice baths, or cold water immersion, are a great way to ice down larger muscle groups following prolonged activity.

Cryotherapy – also known as cold therapy – in any form, constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and breakdown of the tissue as well as decreases pain.

Icing larger muscle groups, such as the calf or thigh muscle, may present difficulties when trying to reach the whole area with an ice pack, so that’s when the ice bath comes in.

In regards to time and temperature, one should remain in an ice bath for no longer than 15-20 minutes with the water temperature remaining between 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit.