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The most common injuries in kicking sports

Published: 31 March 2022


Sports that involve a lot of kicking, such as AFL, Soccer and Rugby require athletes to perform constant repetitive movements that can eventually place a lot of strain on the body leading to injury.

The simple act of kicking requires a fair amount of strength, muscle flexibility and explosiveness which can demand a lot from your muscles and joints. It’s important to have flexible hamstrings and hip muscles, strong leg muscles and the ability to apply force quickly.

The mechanics involved in performing a kick are a combined effort from hip flexion and extension and strength. It’s not uncommon for injuries to occur due to the frequency of these dynamic movements and particular muscles are more vulnerable to injury.

Here are 2 common injuries involved in kicking sports:

Hamstrings strains:

Hamstring strains are common injury in athletes that participate in kicking sports due to the movements and muscles involved in the act of kicking itself.

When an athlete flexes the knee, bringing their leg back, the hamstrings are recruited to contract and shorten in length at the hip and the knee. From there, the leg is then forcefully and rapidly accelerated forward, transitioning the hamstring from contraction to a fully lengthened position.

This simple movement, when done incorrectly or too frequently without proper recover, can injure the hamstring in two possible ways.

Through the lengthening, or over-stretching of the muscle. This can occur when an athlete kicks the ball and on the follow through, over-stretch the hamstring.

Through the sudden change in speed or position involving the hamstring. This often happens when an athlete suddenly decelerates speed.

Common signs and symptoms of a hamstring strains can include a sudden pop in the hamstring area or snapping sensation at the back of the leg.

What often follows is pain, swelling and even bruising of the back of the leg depending on the severity of the injury.

Groin strains:

Groin Strains are another common injury we see in athletes involved in kicking sports. They commonly occur when an overload of stress or damage is experienced by the adductor muscle group. The adductor muscle group helps us with hip flexion, which is a key part of any kicking motion, as the muscle group is responsible for bringing the leg closer to the mid-line of the body.

Essentially, the swinging pendulum motion of the leg involves the strength and flexibility of the adductor muscle group.

Common ways a groin strain can occur can be through a sudden change of direction, over-stretching the muscle and overuse – and these are all common in kicking sports.

Symptoms of groin strains include a popping/snapping sound at the time of the injury, tenderness or pain on the inside of the thigh and swelling in the inner thigh area.  

Pain and/or tightness can be experienced when stretching the groin muscles or when squeezing the legs together.

How we can help

If you’ve experienced a hamstring or groin injury from kicking sports or , it’s important to ensure you take care of your injury and rehabilitate properly so you can make a return do doing what you love.

With practices Australia-wide, we’re Australia’s leading provider of physiotherapy and related services. Contact us on 1300 859 981 to organize a booking with one of our physiotherapists and we can help you with your injury today!