Knee injuries are fairly common in the world of soccer. After all, we constantly see the players tackling, kicking, and bumping each other on the field, and with so much contact in such a fast-paced sport, the problems quickly come knocking on the door. In fact, during this year’s Women’s World Cup, nearly every single big team had at least one star player missing the competition due to an ACL tear – the worst kind of knee injury.
Having said all of that, in this article, we’re not going to talk about the injuries themselves, as much as we’re going to discuss how players can recover from them faster and what exercises they should be performing in the process. So, if that sounds like something up your alley, then sit back and keep on reading.
X Best Knee Recovery Exercises for Soccer Players
Coming back from an injury is one of the most difficult processes professional athletes face. Not only does an injury mean you can’t do the thing you love, but it also means isolated time from your team when you just have to rest and do rehab – a journey that’s not only painful but also slow and exhausting. With that said, there are some exercises that are a must-do, when you’re dealing with a knee injury, so let’s talk about them.
Cardio on the Stationary Bike
As a soccer player, you don’t want to lose your endurance, so cardiovascular exercise is crucial. The safest, best way to get in some cardio in your training while dealing with knee injuries is the stationary bike. It’s easy on the knees and joints, helps strengthen them without putting extra pressure, and the difficulty of the ride can be adjusted depending on how much effort you can or want to put out. If you’re frequently dealing with knee injuries and you want to strengthen the knees, it might be a good idea to consider getting a bike to use at home – the market offers all kinds of ones, even recumbent bikes, which are incredibly comfortable for getting your exercise in while watching a movie or reading a book.
Straight Leg Lifts
Most of the time, when people struggle with knee injuries, it’s because their quads are also not strong enough. One way to solve that problem is by doing exercises that strengthen that area, like straight leg lifts. Unlike squats and lunges, which put too much pressure on the knee joint, this movement is simple to do, and it engages only the muscles without damaging the joints and the ligaments.
Backward Leg Lifts
Similar to the straight leg lifts, this exercise is a terrific way to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes while keeping the knees safe and sound. For added difficulty, you can perform the movement with added weight to the ankles or by increasing the reps you do.
If you’re currently not dealing with any injuries and you want to do just preventative work, then the step-ups are a great way to do just that. They work all of your leg muscles, including the calves, while also forcing you to engage your core and keep your balance. By doing step-ups, you’re putting a particular emphasis on the strength of the knee joint as you’re using it to stabilize your leg as you drive up, which, in turn, is a fantastic way to strengthen the joints and the ligaments surrounding it.
This exercise is a great way to target the calf muscle again without aggravating the knee joint or putting extra pressure on it. It’s also a movement that can be performed basically anywhere, and the difficulty increases with the added weight or with more reps.
Knee injuries are a common occurrence in professional sports and, more specifically, in soccer. And while, in some cases, there’s nothing you can do to avoid them, in others, working on strengthening your leg muscles and the ligaments surrounding the knee can be of great help. Hopefully, by reading this article, you’ve got an idea of what exercises to incorporate into your training plan and what you can do to improve your performance while minimizing the risk of injury.