FRISCO, Texas - There’s plenty of cause for excitement as MLS commish Don Garber confirmed the rumors of the upcoming tournament to be hosted next month in Orlando. Soccer is coming back; but unfortunately, so is the inevitability of injuries.
Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major European league to return to play when the season resumed last month. While much of the spotlight was aimed at the lack of fans and crowd noise, another sticking point were injuries. As reported by Matt Roller in ESPN UK, sports scientist Joel Mason found that injury rates spiked to .88 per game from its usual .27 after the restart. And it makes sense. Teams are basically going from an impromptu offseason to a condensed regular season with only a few weeks of full team training for preparation.
And there’s no reason to think this issue will be unique to Germany. The fact is, athletes transitioning from zero competitive matches to multiple per week will be likelier to sustain injury. So, in hopes of mitigating this effect, FC Dallas’ medical and training staff is doing everything they can to help their players get ahead of it and stay healthy. As usual, communication is the first step.
“Communication is really the key right now,” said Jesse Ramirez, FCD’s Lead Assistant Athletic Trainer. “Any issues that they’re dealing with, we just got to stay on top of it by them letting us know. It’s a daily thing, how they’re progressing or not.”
Another part of the equation is the MLS training moratorium which lasted from mid-March until June 1. It prohibited players from using team facilities whatsoever—including in-house health and rehab centers. Plus, with FC Dallas still currently in phase two of MLS’ return to practice model, players are still unable to use facilities or work directly with training staff. Instead, they’ve been doing what we’ve all been doing: working from home.
FC Dallas athletic trainer Jesse Ramirez (left) performs health check on forward Zdenek Ondrasek (right) before training
“I’ve been sending them (players) some at home maintenance plans with a platform called MedBridge,” Ramirez explained. “It’s basically an at-home exercise platform. I go in and select exercises and frequency – how many days a week, how many reps, how many sets – and then there’s a short and concise explanation in writing and there’s also a video that they can watch exactly how they need to do the exercise. So far, it’s worked with the guys that have issues.”
The at-home maintenance plans are just one part of FCD’s overall fitness objective which is, of course, injury prevention. Knowing their players’ fitness histories is another.
“For us, we have to be cognizant of the issues that guys have had in the past,” said FCD’s Head Athletic Trainer Tracy Coleman. “If they’ve dealt with chronic issues, like SI problems, or knee problems, or ankles problems – whatever it is – we have to be cautious of that. We plan for them to maybe have those issues when coming back here because they haven’t been training like this for a long time.
“So, we have to see these issues before they happen and give them exercises, at-home plans, that can mitigate a lot of that risk. Otherwise, if we leave that stuff unchecked and they train for two or three weeks, then when do we go to Orlando, we’ll see a lot of problems that take a long time to go away. I think you’re seeing that around the world, injury rates have just skyrocketed because I think the players haven’t had these stresses in so long.”