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

New patients receive a free consultation!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Tuesday:

2pm - 6pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Appointment Only

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

  • "Dr. Blair and his staff are wonderful, caring individuals who have always given my family the best care. You guys are amazing!"
  • Ice Capades

    In the depths of winter, adults, as well as children, exert themselves to engage in enjoyable outdoor activities that will keep them warm and provide both excitement and entertainment. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating all have their enthusiasts. Many ...

    Read More
  • Being a Change Agent

    Being a Change Agent For most of us, change happens slowly, if at all. But as the recent holiday season fades into the distance, many of us wish to be increasingly proactive this year and take real action on the numerous New Year's resolutions that we made in regard to our health and well-being. Back ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Cheer

    In early winter, whether we're celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, both or nothing at all, families and friends gather to share food and drink and give thanks for a year successfully completed. We send up a rousing holiday cheer and share delicious holiday cheer in celebration of our accomplishments and ...

    Read More
  • A User's Guide to Healthy Knees

    Healthy knees require continuous motion. However, our generally sedentary lifestyles are at odds with the maintenance of robust knee joint architecture. Left motionless throughout large portions of the day, over time knee cartilage will break down and knee ligaments will become lax. These chronic changes ...

    Read More
  • Detective Story

    When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes applied himself to a difficult case, he famously utilized his powers of deduction. Holmes assembled and examined the facts before him and employed a scientific method of analysis to arrive at a solution that took into account of all the elements of the ...

    Read More
  • Learning From History

    Whether we're driving a car, riding a bike, or trying to record a spare at our local bowling alley, our musculoskeletal system bases its decision-making on past history, that is, what it has learned before. Drawing on years of experience, recorded deep within our muscle memory, we're able to avoid an ...

    Read More
  • A Center for Health

    Mindfulness programs and practices frequently describe a process of locating your "center." One's center may be conceived as a focus of energy, both spiritual and physical, by which all activities may be grounded and from which all activities flow. Similarly, ballet teachers and gymnastics instructors ...

    Read More
  • Wildfire Inside of You

    Comparisons between the inner world and the outer world have been frequently drawn by philosophers, nature writers, and visual artists. For example, "seeing the universe in a grain of sand" is a well-known aphorism. The number of neurons in your brain has been compared to the number of stars in the Milky ...

    Read More
  • Hitting for the Cycle

    In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. ...

    Read More
  • Find Inspiration in Walden

    In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup