Strategies for Prevention and Recovery from Football Injuries.

Jun 26, 2024Injury Advice

Euros Season 2024 : Are you ‘ready’ for your 5-a-side Footy? Strategies for Prevention and Recovery from Football Injuries

Football is an exhilarating sport that requires skill, agility, and physical prowess. However, with the high-intensity nature of the game, players are prone to various injuries, especially when fatigue starts to set in. With the Euros currently underway and football madness on a high, those of us that are more inspired to get in preparation for our weekly 5v5s or 9v9s with mates, should keep certain things in mind to avoid injuries. In this blog, we will explore common football injuries, effective strategies to prevent them, and the importance of warm-up and recovery in minimising the risk of injuries.

Common Football Injuries

Football players are susceptible to a range of injuries, more commonly in the lower body, including ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendinopathies and bone fractures. These injuries can occur due to collisions or contact injuries like a slide tackle or due to sudden changes in direction, overuse and overtraining, or inadequate preparation. Understanding the types and causes of injuries is crucial for implementing preventive measures.

Importance of Warm-Ups

Warm-up exercises are an integral part of any football training session or match preparation. They help increase blood flow to the muscles, raise body temperature, and improve joint flexibility. A well-executed warm-up routine can enhance performance, prevent muscle strains, and reduce the likelihood of injuries. It should include dynamic stretching, light jogging, and sport-specific movements. The FIFA 11+ Program used by professional football clubs is an excellent injury prevention program and warm up that can be followed at any level of football. It is progressive, so can be started at a beginners level and subsequently progressed to a more advanced level. It is a brilliant tool to help prevent injuries at an amateur level as well as professional.(1) Some of the warm up exercises involve holding a plank position, single leg balance while throwing a ball, running along the length of the prepared area for warm up and single leg squatting with a partner.

Opening the Gate

Hip out (where my leg is rotating outwards). Hip mobility drill, a part of the FIFA 11+ warm up program.

Closing the Gate

Hip in (where my leg is rotating inwards). Hip mobility drill, a part of the FIFA 11+ warm up program.

Running Drills

Running quick forward and backwards. FIFA 11+ warmup program.

Landing Drills

Drop jump from box- Landing drills for absorption of load and stability.

Copenhagen Adduction Exercises

A great exercise to focus on managing groin related pain. It’s divided into 3 levels where the difficulty rises with each level. The video shows an easier variation of level 3.

Injury Prevention Strategies

  • Strength and Conditioning: Developing strength and muscle conditioning and endurance can help enhance stability, reduce muscle imbalances, and protect against injuries. Focusing on exercises that target the core, lower body, and upper body can contribute to better performance and injury prevention. Some great exercises include dead bugs for the core, reverse lunges and single leg squat on a box or chair for lower body strength and single leg stability, Nordic curls for hamstrings strength, and Copenhagen planks for groin strength (2).  
  • Proper Technique: Emphasising and practicing proper tackling, blocking, and landing techniques can significantly reduce the risk of injuries. Individuals should prioritise reinforcing correct form and loading strategies to minimise unnecessary strain on the body. Working with a Physiotherapist or a Strength & Conditioning coach experienced in the sport, can also help train and replicate sport-specific movements and ensure that the body is moving in the most efficient manner for the movement.
    Eg- Practicing proper jumping and landing techniques can help to avoid injuries sustained while going for a header (3) 
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Staying hydrated and consuming a balanced diet are crucial for maintaining optimal performance and reducing the risk of muscle cramps and fatigue. Players should hydrate adequately before, during, and after training or matches and follow a diet rich in nutrients to support muscle recovery.
    Eg- If playing a Sunday league match after a night out, taking an oral rehydration or electrolyte solution at half time, or during breaks in between the games can help with performance and recovery.
Single Leg Squat
Single Leg Squat

This exercise builds up single leg strength, works on pelvic and hip stability, core control and overall balance.

Reverse lunges
Reverse Lunges

We all know this one! Quads on fire! Another great exercise to fire up the quads and simultaneously working on balance, core control and hip stability.


A great exercise to focus on managing groin related issues or pain. It’s a part of the FIFA 11+ warm up program used by various professional football clubs. This is essential for keeping the groin and hip strong when changing direction.

Dead bugs
Dead Bugs

An exercise to focus on multiple components like core strength, hip stability, neuromuscular control and coordination. This helps keep your torso strong through movements like sprinting and kicking.

Recovery Strategies

  • Rest and Active Recovery: Allowing the body to have sufficient time to rest and recover is essential for preventing overuse injuries. Sleep becomes a very important factor for adequate recovery and injury prevention.  We should aim for at least 7-8 hours a night. Incorporating active recovery techniques, such as light cycling, swimming, yoga, stretching, and foam rolling, can help reduce muscle soreness and promote faster recovery. The motive behind this is to flush the lactic acid which builds up during muscle exertion. 
  • Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy: In the event of an injury, seeking professional medical advice and following a comprehensive rehabilitation program is crucial. Physical therapy can aid in restoring strength, flexibility, and function, helping players return to the field safely and minimise the risk of re-injury. 
    Eg- After sustaining an ACL injury, it is important to regain full range of motion of the knee and strength of the quadriceps as soon as possible. Returning to sport following ACL injury, should also be guided by a Physical Therapist as it is important to ensure certain testing criteria are achieved to avoid re-injury (4)
  • Gradual Return to Play: Rushing back to full activity after an injury can increase the chances of re-injury. Thus, It becomes a crucial decision, and for that, a lot of testing is required before the individual/player is sent fully back to training and playing competitive sport. For example, in the case of a suspected concussion, a gradual return-to-play protocol (GRTP), under the guidance of medical professionals, ensures that players regain fitness and confidence while minimising the risk of further injuries. (5)

Football injuries are a significant concern for players, coaches, and parents alike. By implementing effective injury prevention strategies, including warm-up exercises, strength training, proper technique, and protective equipment, individuals can minimise the risk of injuries. Additionally, prioritising recovery strategies, such as rest, rehabilitation, and gradual return to play, can help ensure long-term safety and performance. Remember, prevention and recovery go hand in hand in the pursuit of injury-free football.

Apoorv Raj

Senior MSK Specialist Physiotherapist- Atherapy
Part time sessional Physiotherapist- Chelsea Football Club


1. Barengo NC, Meneses-Echávez JF, Ramírez-Vélez R, Cohen DD, Tovar G, Bautista JE. The impact of the FIFA 11+ training program on injury prevention in football players: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Nov 19;11(11):11986-2000. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111111986. PMID: 25415209; PMCID: PMC4245655.

2. Saleh A. Al Attar W, Faude O, Husain MA, Soomro N, Sanders RH. Combining the Copenhagen Adduction Exercise and Nordic Hamstring Exercise Improves Dynamic Balance Among Male Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Sports Health. 2021;13(6):580-587. doi:10.1177/1941738121993479

3. Larwa J, Stoy C, Chafetz RS, Boniello M, Franklin C. Stiff Landings, Core Stability, and Dynamic Knee Valgus: A Systematic Review on Documented Anterior Cruciate Ligament Ruptures in Male and Female Athletes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(7):3826. 


5. The Football Association England; Concussion Guidelines