John Gallucci On Common Sense Helps Prevent Injuries
SoccerToday announced John Gallucci, Jr., MLS Medical Coordinator who oversees 600 professional soccer players in America, is the popular soccer news site’s newest columnist and will be writing a regular column on Injury Prevention and Treatment.
A dynamic expert in injury prevention, rehabilitation, sports medicine and athletic conditioning, Gallucci is the Medical Coordinator for Major League Soccer (MLS), overseeing the medical care of 600 professional soccer players. Gallucci is the former Head Trainer of the New York Red Bulls MLS team and is a Sports Medicine consultant for professional athletes in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and USA Wrestling. Gallucci, Jr. is also President, JAG Physical Therapy & JAG Pediatric Therapy.
Soccer Players At Risk from Common Youth Soccer Injuries
Here are Soccer Injury Prevent and Treatment author and MLS Medical expert John Gallucci’s insights on the importance injury prevention and his concerns on common youth soccer injuries
Diane Scavuzzo: What are some of the most common injuries?
John Gallucci, Jr.: Sever’s Disease, Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease and unfortunately ACL Tears.
Youth soccer coaches and parents of players need to be concerned about injuries specific to over-use and various growth patterns and disorders, combined with acute or chronic trauma. Many of the injuries suffered by youth athletes can be avoided with proper training, warm-up and stretching.
Sever’s disease is a painful bone disorder resulting from inflammation in the growth plate (an area of growing tissue at the end of a developing bone) in the heel.
This condition typically arises during the growth spurts in the adolescent years; between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls, and 10 and 15 for boys. It is a common cause of heel pain in growing kids, especially those who are very active and run a lot. The symptoms are pain, tightness, swelling and sometimes bruising in the heel and increased pain with running and jumping activities, and may be exacerbated with a tight shoe or boot
Diane Scavuzzo: How much does the average soccer athlete run in a match?
John Gallucci, Jr: The average professional MLS soccer players runs about 7 miles during a match, so it is important for us to understand that this is a high aerobic sport, and a variant conditioning component should include increasing the aerobic threshold.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease?
John Gallucci, Jr: Osgood-Schlatter’s disease is very similar to Sever’s disease, and is very common, occurring in approximately 1 our 5 players. Instead of impacting the heel, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease occurs at the knee joint. It is more prevalent in boys than in girls. The symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter’s disease include swelling and inflammation directly at the knee, often with point tenderness. The signs can also include a visible, painful bump just below the knee joint or a tightness in the muscles surrounding the knee, including the hamstring and quadriceps.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your recommendation if a player has Sever’s or Osgood-Schlatter’s disease?
John Gallucci, Jr: RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Should symptoms rise, athletes must simply be treated appropriately with rest and modified activity. After enough recovery time has passed, the athlete can participate at a 50-75% level in order to keep them involved while limiting the trauma to the injured area. Once inflammation is controlled, the surrounding muscles need to be strengthened and stretched, increasing elasticity until the pain decreases and he or she can gradually start to play again.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do many girls suffer ACL injuries?
John Gallucci, Jr: We have found out through research that ACL injuries can be occur from the biomechanics of a female landing properly (or improperly), a vastus medialis weakness, a hamstring/quadriceps variant ratio weakness, a laxity of tendons or on the variants of your femur going into your knee joint based on the key angle of the hip widening.
It is important to know that although there are numerous different rationales of causes of ACL injuries in females, we know it is through a strengthening protocol of the lower extremity that some injuries such as the ACL can be prevented.
Diane Scavuzzo: How can soccer players avoid injuries?
John Gallucci, Jr: The most important thing to decrease soccer injuries is to truly train and condition appropriately.
Too many of us look at athletes as “one fits all” and that is not a true assessment. Athletes need to be trained individually. Unfortunately, in the early years when we’re training and teaching our youth players, it’s really an emphasis on teaching the sport of soccer, understanding the rules of soccer, making sure that you can decrease these injuries by making sure that these athletes truly understand what the game of soccer is.
One of the biggest things that we do to avoid soccer injuries besides teaching the rules is to truly make sure that the children, especially between the ages of 6-12 years old, understand the body mechanics, the movement mechanics, aerobic conditioning and strengthening components that go into an overall soccer player.
As you get above 12 years old you start to get into more dynamic strengthening components, especially when dealing with the core portion of your body which is basically your trunk and making sure that it is strong enough to keep the body moving through the proper mechanics in the game of soccer. So it is important that when you talk about decreasing the incidence of injuries in soccer, the conditioning and education component is the most important.
Diane Scavuzzo: How long should athletes take off to recover?
John Gallucci, Jr: It depends on their injury and their work rate. The three most common injuries are knee injuries, especially in female athletes, ankle injuries, and hip injuries. Those are the most common, and they also can be the most preventable.
The work-to-rest ratio is important and our a webinar out on work-to-rest ratios that would be very valuable to look at. It is a great tool for people in the coaching community and athletic community. I recommend the L.E.S.S. program that we have at JAG Physical Therapy, which is also highlighted in my book, Soccer Injury Prevention and Treatment.