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How To Use the Cool Down for Injury Prevention

Improving Neuromuscular Efficiency through a Cool Down is Key with Injury Prevention

Sometimes all you want to do after a soccer game or practice is sit on the ground and relax, take your cleats off, and talk about the game.  But, there is an ideal opportunity after you have been physically exerting yourself to optimize your recovery, improve your neuromuscular efficiency with lower extremity loading and unloading, and refine your technical skills with the ball while decreasing the risk for future injuries.

Here are 3 reasons why a cool down is a necessary component to any soccer practice or game:

1.  A cool down after a soccer practice or game helps to keep the blood circulating which allows for the transport of oxygen and nutrients to parts of the body that need it for recovery.

2. A cool down can improve overall flexibility. After a soccer game or practice, there is a small window of time where the body is accepting of more movement or stretching.  Being consistent with a cool down that incorporates some static stretching can lead to improved flexibility.

3. Research studies have found that a cool down involving neuromuscular and proprioceptive training can decrease the risk for injury. Focusing on your form while fatigued is a BIG factor in any injury reduction program as most research shows that fatigue is the #1 risk factor for injury. A series of double and single leg loading and balance exercises should be performed but with correct mechanics at the trunk, hips, knees, and ankles to reinforce good neuromuscular control and efficiency within the central nervous system. Incorporating some easy technical work with the ball into these exercises can also enhance your skills and improve ball control.

For more information on the importance of neuromuscular and proprioceptive training programs in the prevention or reduction of injuries, please contact Omaha Physical Therapy Institute (OPTI) at (402)934-8688.  Several of OPTI’s physical therapists have played soccer at the collegiate level and have years of coaching experience as well.  As experts in musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injuries, OPTI’s physical therapists provide consultation for local sports teams on appropriate warm up, re-warm ups, halftime, and cool down programs.  They also provide the SoccerFIT program which assists in injury prevention.

1. Mandelbaum BR, Silvers HJ, Watanabe DS, Knarr JF, Thomas DS, Griffin LY, Kirkendall DT, Garret W. Effectiveness of a Neuromuscular and Proprioceptive Training Program in Preventing Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries in Female Athletes.  Am J Sports Med.  2016;33: 1003-1010

2. Besier TF, Lloyd DG, Ackland T, Cochrane JL (2001) Anticipatory effects on knee joint loading during running and cutting maneuvers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33:1176–1181

3.  Arendt E, Dick R (1995) Knee injury patterns among men and women in collegiate basketball and soccer. NCAA data and review of literature. Am J Sports Med 23:694–701


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Check out OPTI’s Soccer Specific Rehabilitation Page for more info on how OPTI can help you recover from a soccer injury!