Soccer Hamstring Injuries during COVID-19

Natalie Trogus - I’m a Mother to three BAC soccer players, an active duty Marine of 21 years with chronic lower back and hamstring injuries. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Sports and Health sciences. I also have a personal trainer certification, multiple certifications in youth sports training, including Crossfit Kids, Crossfit Level 2 (CF-L2) trainer certificate, youth fitness certification, and injury prevention. I have been coaching youth soccer for 9 years and currently an assistant coach for my youngest daughters U7 BAC Rec team. As I’ve been watching league matches for my U14 daughters team, being I’m keenly aware of spotting an injury from a distance, I’ve noticed increased injuries on various teams which has warranted this concern. My daughters team has experienced a few hamstring injuries which is concerning in the COVID virtual learning environment. In order to prevent injury and provide self-care recommendations, I have put together the following information:

Soccer Hamstring Injuries during COVID-19

With the resumption of BAC soccer league play, I wanted to provide some considerations for youth soccer and hamstring injury prevention. Virtual schooling has resulted in student athletes remaining sedentary for excess periods of the day, anywhere from 6-8 hours, usually in a sitting position. Unlike the school environment, student athletes are not required to move too far for breaks where they would usually move around from class to class, for food, water, and bathroom breaks. While the CDC has outlined considerations for youth sports in safe return to play in a COVID environment, there has been little data thus far on capturing COVID related sports injuries which would warrant published articles. Numerous scientific articles have been written on soccer injuries in children and adolescents. In one article, the majority of injuries among youth soccer players involve lower extremities, particularly the ACL, while ankles and knees are the most commonly injured body parts. Sprains and/or strains and contusions are the most commonly reported injury types. In another article, the prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in young females, who tend to be more knee injuries.

For soccer players particularly, increased hamstring injuries have been visually observed in league play, which warrants suggestions and recommendation for prevention and rehabilitation once injured. The Mayo Clinic outlines poor flexibility as one potential cause of a hamstring injury. With virtual school during COVID, this is an important factor to consider as BAC student athletes continue league play in a COVID virtual school environment.

Hamstring injury recovery can take some time. WebMD has offered some recommendations

Which include rest, icing, compression, and practice stretching and muscle strengthening.

Other recommendation I would add to preventative injuries are:

1) Frequent breaks every hours to stimulate blood flow and flexibility. The American College of Sports Medicine has outlined a high intensity fitness circuit that can be completed at home. All of these exercises provide well-rounded exercise for soccer athletes.

2) Myofascial massage tools – foam rolling has been extremely popular as a pre-and post workout routine to support myofascial release. This document shows the different types of tools available for use as a massage mechanism.

3) Resistance training – student athletes can use weighted backpacks, books, filled water bottles to do home resistance training while listening to class vice sitting. This would help limit the amount of time spent sitting and would also support active learning as studies have shown that exercise improves students learning capacity.

4) Hamstring injury after care – depending on the severity of the injury, will dictate the level of care. For strains and sprains, this article has listed some recommendations. In addition to icing, compression, anti-inflammatories as needed, I would also recommend the use of kinesiology tape (KT). This tape has replaced athletic tape as the go to for sports medicine injury prevention and rehabilitation. KT works to help reduce inflammation while also providing some stability to the injured area, thus supporting rehabilitation and return to sport.

Disclamer: Should an injury occur, please seek assistance from your health care provider.