Soccer Injuries vs. Running Injuries

I lose so many of my good athletes to soccer.

Conversely, I get a lot of “washed up” soccer players at age 17 who didn’t make the cut professionally (or amateur leagues).  It’s a cruel world out there, what can I say?

If you are interested in becoming a professional soccer player in Europe and Italy, read How to Get a Soccer (Football) tryout in Europe.

Sprinters usually get hamstring pulls or Achilles tendonitis injuries.  Our middle distance and distance runners get shin splints or stress fractures, often from too much mileage and volume.  There are the occasional knee problems, but the above 4 injuries I just mentioned are the top killers in Track and Field.

Lower Back Problems are usually rare in athletes, and so common in sedentary people from lack of abdominal strength and zero flexibility in their legs and lower back.

So how about Soccer? 

I wrote about Youth Sports and ACL injuries way back in 2008.

Are soccer injuries worse than running, or are they just different?

Whatever the ailment, being on the sidelines, sitting in the spectator stand, or at home watching your competitors on TV is no fun!

Common Injuries for All Sports

Muscle Cramps vs. Muscle Pulls

A cramp is a sudden, intense pain caused by a muscle involuntary and forcibly contracting muscle that does not relax.   Trying to distinguish a muscle cramps vs. muscle pulls in younger athletes is always a challenge.

Cramps are also caused by electrolyte imbalances.

SEE ALSO: Tips on Preventing Leg Cramps while Sleeping


Blisters are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin that commonly occurs on the feet or hands (i.e. in the weight room).  To a distance or ultra-marathoner, blisters is death by a thousand little nicks.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

Also referred as "DOMS".  This muscle stiffness or soreness occurs 24-48 hours after an intense training session or when introduced to a new training program.

Pulled or Strained Calf and Thigh Muscle

Other than cramps, the calves and quads are common muscle groups that get strained to the point of injury.  We saw Michael Johnson experience a quadriceps pull in this 150 meter match in 1997.

Common Injuries for Runners and Soccer

Here is my short list of injuries common in both running and soccer from my experience.  For runners, it includes sprinters and long distance runners. 

I started writing a few articles in the past, so this is a good checklist for myself for 2012 articles.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a chronic injury that occurs primarily from overuse and abuse. If this is ignored it may increase your risk of Achilles Tendon Rupture.  Just go to YouTube and watch surgeons re-attach the tendon.   Very Scary. 

I started a 10 part series on Achilles Tendonitis, but so far I have reached Part 5.  More in 2012.

Hamstring strains, pull, or tears

I started a multi-series on Hamstring pulls and rehab, which I’ll continue in detail in 2012.

Shin Splints

SEE ALSO: What are Shin Splints, which I’ll continue in detail in 2012.

Shin Splints is a dull aching pain that occurs in the front of the lower leg along the tibia (shin bone), and considered a “cumulative stress injury” like a stress fracture.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures in the leg are often the result of overuse or repeated impacts on a hard surface or even worn out running shoes.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The Iliotibial Band or “IT band” friction syndrome often results in knee pain that is generally felt on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower.  Foam Rollers work to a certain degree, depending in the severity.  More on this in 2012.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel and arch and usually defined by severe pain during the first steps of the morning.  Some people can’t even get out of bed to go to the bathroom!  To date, the heel boot is the most common and effective way of treatment, but more on this in 2012.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Also called "Runner’s Knee", this term usually refers to pain under and around the knee cap.

Common Soccer Specific Injuries

Ankle Sprains

The most common of all ankle injuries, an ankle sprain occurs when there is a stretching and tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle joint.  

Ruptured Tendon

Tendinitis is simply inflammation of a tendon. It generally occurs from overuse and abuse, but can also occur from a forceful contraction that causes “microtears” in the weak and inflamed fibers.  God Bless you if this happens to you.


A concussion occurs with a sudden impact, collision, or blow to the head.   Though soccer is not a contact sport like American football or Hockey, concussions do occur.

Groin Pull

Another common injury is a groin (or adductor) pull or strain when the muscles of the inner thigh are stretched beyond their limits, like reaching for a ball.

ACL and MCL injuries

The 4 Ligament injuries to the knee are very common in sports that require stopping and starting or quickly changing directions.

There are:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)

Cruciate ligament injuries don’t always cause pain initially, but typically cause a loud "pop" that you can hear from the sidelines!  Most of these injuries are confirmed with an MRI and Arthroscopic surgery is used to find a partial tear.

Torn Knee Cartilage (Meniscus Injuries)

A torn knee cartilage is usually a torn meniscus. These small, "C" shaped pieces of cartilage act as cushions between the thigh bone (femur) and the tibia (shin bone). Meniscus tears are often the result of twisting, pivoting, decelerating, or a sudden impact.

A good physio or clinician (** cough cough Gerry Ramodiga cough cough**) will use a variety manual tests to detect the torn cartilage.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • As and old soccer player, I can tell, we from Brazil are targets of unfair play. I had to stop playing soccer afetr an injury in a game when I got hit on the back of my knee. So if you play soccer, protect your knees with your life and try a little muscular trainning to help your knees stability
    Keep Pumping!!!