Soccer players like most athletes are habitually driven by an unending zeal to come out victorious during competitions. This strong desire is what causes them to push their bodies to dangerous limits.
Injuries are prevalent in soccer not because the sport is naturally dangerous but mostly because players often throw caution to the wind. Although you can never be completely immune from soccer injuries, you can always reduce its frequency by being cautious.
Most soccer injuries usually occur around the arms, head, feet, and knees due to how the sport is played. Among all forms of soccer injuries, injuries to the knee are rated among the most prevalent.
Records show that a high percentage of retired professional soccer players suffered from common knee injuries during their soccer careers.
Knee injuries can be caused by circumstances such as collisions during games, difficult landings, rotations, pivots, and quick stops during fast sprints.
Meniscus and ACL tears are the most common types of knee injuries among soccer players aside from MCL tears and patella instability. Most of the known soccer injuries affecting the knee can’t be managed or treated without performing surgery due to the location of the tear.
Surgeries are conducted on torn meniscus to sew them back together using anchors or stitches. Meniscectomies (carefully trimming out the torn section of the meniscus) can also be carried out on torn meniscus depending on the location and nature of the tear.
One important question that we hear most of the time from amateur soccer players that just suffered their first meniscus injury is, “Can soccer players get back to the pitch after getting meniscus surgery?”
Keep reading as we answer this question and other questions surrounding meniscus injuries, their repair, and how soccer players can successfully pull through.
Can I play soccer after meniscus surgery?
A meniscus is a C-shaped cartilaginous part of the knee found between your shinbone and thighbone.
There are usually two meniscuses located in each of your knees and their major purpose is to absorb shock. They play an important role in the life of soccer players and athletes in general.
You can play soccer after recovering from an arthroscopic meniscal surgery but it all depends on how fast your body can heal after the surgery.
If treated properly, a meniscus surgery can take as little as 6 weeks to heal properly. However, some players usually wait for about 3 to 4 months before competing in major tournament.
A player’s physical fitness prior to the meniscus injury and the level of care after surgery is what will determine how fast the injury will heal.
Players often recover from the worst soccer injuries and return to the pitch and play well such that you can hardly tell they ever had any injuries. So, we see no reason why you can’t.
Injuries have always been soccer’s biggest treat. Most soccer injuries like a torn meniscus, ankle sprain, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, etc. are capable of preventing you from playing the sport until you seek medical help to get them treated.
The career of several promising soccer players has been cut short due to injuries. However, we have no such records from a meniscus injury—except in cases of recurring meniscus injury which often happens when it is not properly treated.
Players like Djibril Cisse, Alessandro Del Piero, Roy Keane, and Francesco Totti have all been threatened by career-terminating injuries but they all managed to make heroic comebacks.
Proper recovery after surgery as a soccer player is one thing you must take seriously to avoid long-term complications. After undergoing meniscus surgery, it is expected of you to keenly obey the instructions of your doctor.
By keenly following the instructions of your chiropractors and doctors, you can return to the pitch in 6 weeks or less, depending on your fitness level. Below are some of the common ways to recover quickly after meniscus surgery.
Please note that the following points are general practices and mustn’t be prioritized above a specialized doctor’s instructions.
1. Eat right
After undergoing surgery, aside from the targeted effects of medicine, food also plays a major part in your recovery process. This is why you must be wary of the kind of foods you ingest during this period.
During the recovery period, some soccer players often try to resist too much intake of calories. They dread that they might grow fat and find it difficult to go back to their original shape and body weight.
If you weigh about 150 pounds, you will probably need as much as 1,500 calories or more to help you heal faster. Restricting your body from valuable nutrients just because you don’t want to gain weight will adversely affect your recovery period.
Nutritionists will often advise you to eat foods that boost your health and immunity after surgery. Food varieties like “moldy” cheese, kefir, nuts, and yogurt are often recommended for post-surgery recovery.
Protein is also needed by the body while recovering because it prevents the loss of lean muscle. Zinc optimizes healing while leafy vegetables and berries contain anti-inflammatory agents.
Nutrition and medical advice aren’t consistent. They frequently change over time as science continues to advance.
Always check with your doctors and nutritionists occasionally to get the latest info on what food varieties can help heal your meniscus surgery faster.
2. Don’t expect a quick recovery
Expecting a quick recovery after a meniscus surgery will lead you into making rash decisions that might cause you further harm. Always give the injury as much time as possible to heal properly.
Some players can miss complete seasons during recovery from numerous surgeries so you shouldn’t be in a haste to return to the pitch. You need to be in optimal health to offer your best on the pitch.
Regular massage sessions with a chiropractor can help with your recovery because stiff thigh muscles are often responsible for knee injuries. Chiropractors don’t work magic. They can only help you with recovery and prevention.
After making assessments on your knee surgery, chiropractors can help you prepare a personalized recovery plan. It is always advised that you stick to the doctor’s advice regardless of how long the healing process will take.
3. Gradually increase your mobility and control
After getting meniscus surgery, moving your knee can be dreadfully painful. Most soccer players often prefer doing nothing challenging during their recovery period to avoid reinjuring their unstable knee.
Not being mobile after getting knee surgery can make your ligaments and muscles stiff. This will cause a lot of difficulty for you when you decide to get moving again.
Your health care provider can instruct you on some effective and safe ways to best work on your healing knee. By following these instructions, you wouldn’t have many difficulties when going back to the training ground after making full recovery.
Your ability to move your knee might seem difficult initially but with constant practice and guidance from your chiropractor, it will gradually get easier.
Some of the common exercises often given by health care providers include bridges, calf raises, step-ups, hamstring curls, leg presses, squats, and lunges. They will instruct you on how to safely do these exercises and how long you should do them daily.
Following through with these exercises will help you get back to the soccer pitch faster. It is also possible to get plyometrics as part of your recovery therapy. Such plyometrics might include agility ladders and box jumps.
These drills are necessary to get your legs back to their normal functionality. Some health care providers might also include easier exercises like bear crawls, side lunges, and backward and sideways jogs to enhance your knee’s movement in different directions.
4. Managing the swelling
After getting meniscus surgery, it is common to have swellings and irritation around the knee area. Like other similar soccer injuries, a meniscus tear can also react by swelling when you start moving it after surgery.
You can apply a technique called the RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) technique to better manage this problem. Adequate rest can maintain normal blood flow in your body which is good for the swollen knee.
Ice and compression have always been the natural way to adequately manage swelling in the body. They are capable of speeding up the recovery period of your injured knee and also decreasing pain.
Keeping the swollen knee elevated can also reduce the build-up of fluids in addition to reducing swelling. To get the best outcome from the RICE technique, always consult your health care provider for further direction and information.
5. Wear your knee brace correctly
Some players who might have undergone meniscus surgery sometimes find it inconvenient to wear knee braces during their recovery period. Such players would hardly wear their knee braces when nobody is monitoring them.
Knee injuries are often caused by irregular movement of the knee such as twisting and turning. Braces can help your operated knee heal faster by preventing further injuries which might result from falling or crashing.
You will be fitted with a knee brace after getting meniscus surgery. The speed at which you recover from this surgery might be directly related to how often you wear your brace and also how well you wear it.
Braces are precisely designed to keep the knee in its proper position during activities.
The average length of time required for a soccer player to fully recover from meniscus surgery and return to the pitch isn’t fixed. Most ligament injuries often take between 6 to 8 weeks to properly heal.
Many factors such as a player’s age, nature of the tear, the expertise of the medical team, etc. all come into play in the recovery period of meniscus surgeries. Advances in rehabilitation and medicine have increased the chances of recovering faster from surgeries of this nature.
In the past, techniques used in treating meniscus injuries were tedious and complicated. They often require the use of rods and screws after invasive surgeries and they can take up to 12 months to heal properly.
Significant improvements have been made in technology and medicine over the past two decades. We believe that in the future, meniscus surgeries wouldn’t be as invasive as it is today. The less invasive a surgery is, the shorter the healing time.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!