Most soccer players know that they can’t start a soccer game cold. Warm-ups are essential to preventing injury and playing your best game on the field. But what are the best exercises to do before a soccer game? How do you know specifically what drills and exercises are going to help prevent injuries?
Over the last decade a lot of research has been coming out regarding the best way to prevent injuries when playing soccer. Let’s give you a simple overview of the research – static stretching of your muscles right before a game is OUT and dynamic functional sport specific movement/exercise is IN.
FIFA (The international governing body of football) has designed the FIFA 11+ injury prevention program. This is a three-part 20-minute soccer specific warm up program that can be done prior to a game. The great thing about the FIFA 11+ program is that it’s proven by research to prevent injury and there’s no equipment needed – it can be done on the field, right before you play.
The warm up program focuses on sport specific exercises that utilise running, jumping and ballistic soccer movements to warm up your muscles in preparation for a game.
Thorborg et al 2017 concluded that the FIFA 11+ program reduced football injuries in recreational footballers by 39%. Additionally, the program reduced the top four most prevalent football injuries, hamstring, hip/groin, knee and ankle injury by 60%, 41%, 48% and 32%, respectively. This program has also been shown to be effective at reducing injury rates in basketball players (Longo et al 2012).
There are 14 exercises in the program – here I’m demonstrating three important ones to get you started.
This one is focusing on maintaining a strong core whilst moving your upper leg up and down as shown. This helps with stabilising through your pelvis while maintaining strong movement through your legs.
This drill is focusing on jumping and landing. You should try and keep your knees in same line as your feet and not let them drop in or out. Remember to bend your knees as you land.
This exercise basically mimics a quick change of direction – something you do a lot on the soccer field. This movement is a great way to warm up your knees and groin muscles, and to help prevent ACL injuries.
If you’re interested in the full list of warm ups, see the FIFA 11+ program here in full.
Sustained a soccer injury? Book in to see one of our Bend + Mend Sports Physio’s. We have three locations around Sydney’s CBD.
Ref: Thorborg K, Krommes KK, Esteve E, et al. Effect of specific exercise-based football injury prevention programmes on the overall injury rate in football: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the FIFA 11 and 11+ programmes. Br J Sports Med 2017;51:562-571.