Accessibility View Close toolbar

Soccer Kids Need Protection

Ever since 1984, the year soccer passed baseball as the most popular team sport in the United States, participation in this sport has skyrocketed. With increasing numbers of children running and kicking their way down soccer fields across America, doctors of chiropractic are urging parents to take a step back and learn how to protect their children from the potential injuries this popular sport can cause.

Although soccer can be a great overall sport for children, some youngsters are enduring mild to severe head traumas, neck injuries, damage to the cervical spine, headache, neck pain, dizziness, irritability, and insomnia as a result of their participation, according to the September 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA). Each year, in fact, youths under age 15 suffer more than 227,100 soccer-related injuries, according to recent reports.

Heading the Ball: A Risk for Children

"People have this misconception that soccer has no risk," says Scott Bautch, DC, past president of the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Occupational Health, who has five children playing soccer. "I think soccer is too aggressive too early, which is leading to potential problems. It's not as though we can fix brain damage later on in these kids' lives." Soccer requires three basic skills - kicking (striking the ball with the feet), trapping (similar to catching the ball, only using different parts of the body), and heading the ball, (the deliberate use of the head to redirect the ball). It's that last one - heading - that stirs concern and controversy over possible permanent damage.

Philip Santiago, DC, who was an All-American soccer player in college and a professional player for five years, says that heading is safe only when children are given "proper coaching in proper technique." Dr. Santiago has also served for five years as head soccer coach at both New York Institute of Technology and Montclair State University, and was the chiropractor for the United States Olympic Team in 1992. Dr. Santiago's opinion on proper technique is backed up in a study of elite soccer players at the 1993 Olympic Festival. "While properly executed heading was not found to result in any concussive episodes, 18 percent (18 of 102) of the concussions were a result of heading," the study found.

Dr. Santiago would like to see youngsters hold off heading until age 10 or 11. Dr. Bautch prefers age 14 to 16, based on maturation and development of the spine.

Helmets: Not A Complete Solution

Some school districts are now requiring helmets for young soccer players. However, Dr. Bautch, who says helmets are "a positive," worries that helmets don't protect the spine and don't make up for too-aggressive play. "They are just a small piece that may give some protection," he explains. "I'd hate to see kids wear helmets and have people think that the kids are safe and that they don't have to teach safety and prevention. I would rather see no heading without helmets in young kids, and let helmets be introduced later."

Prevention and Treatment of Injuries

Parents should also encourage a broad spectrum of sports - like soccer, skating and skiing, for example - to develop the whole body. Over-playing and over-training are problems exacerbated by ambitious parents, peer pressure and adult role models. Children need their rest time.

If an injury occurs, think RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injury - which is the recommended procedure. Keep the injury iced until the swelling is down, applying ice no longer than a 20-minute session. After 20 minutes, ice fatigues the blood vessels and causes a heat reaction that actually increases swelling. Leave the ice off for about an hour and reapply. Then, try to get the child to move the injured area as soon as possible. If pain persists, consider taking your child to a chiropractor or other health care professional.

Other Recommendations for Soccer Safety

Parents can help protect their children from soccer injuries. Many of the participants at a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission roundtable insisted that parents and coaches already have the tools at their disposal. Among them are:

  • teaching and use of proper heading technique
  • use of smaller balls for younger players
  • strict enforcement of rules
  • padding of goal posts
  • use of mouth guards
  • improved medical coverage at games
  • coaches educated in symptoms of brain injury
  • proper nutrition, including plenty of water to keep muscles hydrated

Exclusive Offer

New Patients Receive a Free Consultation

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Asheville Office

Monday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Tuesday:

Closed

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12:00pm

2:00pm - 5:00pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Dr. Kordonowy went above & beyond his chiropractor duties today at my appointment when my son got sick while we were there. Dr. Kordonowy took care of both of us, especially my son, helped clean us up and he was so nice about the whole incident! I have been going to him since I was in high school & he is hands down the best around!!"
    Katy H. / Asheville, NC

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • The 5 Senses

    The 5 Senses The five senses, that is, the sense of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell, provide us with necessary information regarding the world around us.1 These precious capabilities enable us to navigate our environment with seemingly instantaneous feedback with reference to our actions and ...

    Read More
  • The Benefits of Sleep for Adults

    Obtaining sufficient restful sleep is an essential requirement for optimal human productivity. Such a practice is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet, regular vigorous exercise, and a positive mental attitude. How much sleep one needs varies from person to person. ...

    Read More
  • Back to School and Mental Wellness

    Summer is a subjectively fleeting season and school days are upon us once again. For children, this bittersweet time marks the completion of a period of relative freedom and the beginning of a new set of responsibilities. For adults, the onset of late summer and early fall signals yet another turn of ...

    Read More
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries

    A repetitive motion injury (or overuse injury) involves doing an action over and over again, as with a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball, a tennis player hitting a tennis ball, typing at a computer keyboard, and most notoriously, typing with your thumbs on the tiny keypad of your phone. It may be ...

    Read More
  • Left-Handers Day

    Left-Handers Day Left-Handers Day, celebrated on August 15th, was launched in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Since then, Left-Handers Day has become a worldwide event and social media phenomenon. Around the world, approximately one in ten persons is left-handed. ...

    Read More
  • Peak Experiences

    Peak Experiences The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, "Walden," Thoreau famously stated that we must "reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical ...

    Read More
  • Dynamic Warm-ups

    In a common occurrence, you bend over to pick up the pencil you inadvertently dropped on the floor. Or you bend over to pick up the soap bar that has slipped through your fingers in the shower. Or you bend over to lift a bag of groceries out of your automobile trunk. These are all daily events. But on ...

    Read More
  • Summer Sports

    Summer Sports In the summertime, everyone's thoughts turn to the outdoors. We want to get out in the sun and have some fun. Some people do exercise outdoors, such as running, walking, and biking, all year long regardless of the weather.1 For others, summer's warmer temperatures make activity outside ...

    Read More
  • Wellness Gardens

    Wellness Gardens When time is spent in an office or indoors day in and day out, some can lose that connection to the outside world. And that loss of connection can lead to higher stress levels and more health ailments without even realizing it. But when that the gap between office life and outdoor life ...

    Read More
  • Smart Shoulders

    Our shoulder joints have the greatest range of motion of any of the musculoskeletal joints in our bodies. The shoulder joint is really two joints, the glenohumeral joint between the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and the acromioclavicular joint between the acromion (a bony projection off the scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint and the acromioclavicular joint is a gliding joint. ...

    Read More

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Sign up for more articles