In the growing and developing athlete there are many inevitable injuries to be mindful of. Because of the anatomical changes associated with growth, the adolescent athlete is at risk for growth plate and musculotendinous inflammatory conditions. The soccer athlete is at risk for developing one of these injuries due to the fact that it is a running sport and repetitive stress is placed on ankles, knees and hips.
Starting from the ankle up, the first injury to be aware of is Sever's Disease. This condition is associated with pain and inflammation at the heel or Achilles tendon insertion. Pain is usually increased with running or jumping activities and associated with tight calves and/or hamstrings.
Secondly, a knee condition called Osgood-schlatters is inflammation where the quadriceps muscle inserts into the knee joint and may cause pain with running, jumping and sprinting. A more obvious symptom of Osgood-Schlatters is a prominent tender and swollen bump just below the knee cap.
Lastly, poor tracking of the knee cap or patellofemoral pain syndrome can develop secondary to weak quad muscles, lack of flexibility or structural changes in the hips and legs. This injury is more common in females and if left untreated could result in degeneration of cartilage which is crucial for proper knee mechanics.
Although these injuries could be detrimental to a young athlete's performance, with the proper knowledge, assessment, treatment, exercise program and return to play program they can be easily prevented and/or treated!