Physio: Muscle pulls on the soccer pitch

Stretching, strengthening and massage are three ways that can help start the soccer season off right.

  • Jul. 31, 2012 1:00 p.m.

It’s often identified by many outside of North America as The Beautiful Game.

We’re talking about football, or soccer as we call it here in North America, a sport loved by millions, played by millions.

It’s as much fun watching it from the sidelines as it is playing on the field—unless you have an injury that is keeping you on the sidelines.

Soccer is a sport that uses the leg muscles more than any other in the body.

Stretching, strengthening and massage are three ways that can help start the season off right and reduce the risk of initial or eventual strains or injuries that could impact your game.

Stretching and strengthening are equally important as they create different results for the muscles.

A stretch is going to elongate the muscle which will help prevent it from being tight or short and restrict the joint or joints that it crosses from achieving full range of motion.

Strengthening is going to develop each muscle so that it works with the rest of the muscles, allowing each to function without restriction.

Some key areas to focus on stretching and strengthening are the gluteus muscles (your buttocks) the quadriceps and hamstrings (the front and back of the upper leg), abductors and adductors (the outside and inside of the upper leg).

The gastrocnemius and soleus (the calf muscles) below the knee are also important.

Another muscle group that needs attention is the hip flexors, one of the quadriceps muscles—the rectus femoris—falls into this category as well.

All of these muscles work together to create a great runner, kicker  and passer. But imbalances between any of the muscle groups could create potential injuries.

Having a regular massage is another way to maximize your playing potential this year.

A deep tissue, circulatory massage will keep your muscles loose and reduce the risk of injuries.

As we exercise our muscles, there are tiny tears that occur in the muscle fibres which can create scar tissue and tightening of the muscle.

A massage is a great way of breaking down the scar tissue, and realigning the fibres.

Also, as the muscle is constantly contracting and relaxing during activity, there are toxins and blood that can pool in the muscle.

That can cause congestion and prevent the muscle from functioning at its optimal level.

Circulatory massage is going to flush out the toxins and replenish the blood that supplies the muscles, giving them the ability to work as hard as you have trained them to work.

A massage can also help prevent severe post workout soreness that usually occurs at the beginning of the season, as well as any time you work your muscles harder to achieve a higher functional level. As a soccer player, I have experienced beginning of the season strains, and soreness after practices and games.

As a massage therapist I have treated a wide variety of injuries brought on by soccer.  Book an appointment with your registered massage therapist or book in with me and we will help you start your season on the right foot.

Jennifer McKay is a registered massage therapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s   downtown St. Paul Street clinic or email

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