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Top Reason For Knee Pain In Soccer Players and Missing Keys to Management and Treatment

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Most soccer and field-sport athletes (certainly not exclusive to) have experienced knee pain in one capacity or another throughout their career. Some maybe experienced it after a traumatic event like after a tackle or a collision, stepped or landed "wrong" without direct contact of another player, or it may have happened over a stretch of time (typically in transition from offseason to in season or over the course of the season in its entirety).

Overuse Injury:

Overuse injuries involving the knee are probably the #1 reason for an athlete to visit their Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist (besides us being extremely awesome and entertaining to hang with). These types of injuries have a very simple reason for why they appear. They are typically painful and uncomfortable, but are usually considered a secondary injury or condition as a result of a primary cause or dysfunction.

The root dysfunction, in the case of overuse injuries, is almost always not at the knee itself. Where the symptom/s (pain, etc) appear, the culprit most of the time starts higher at the hip or below in the foot/ankle.

One of the most common overuse injuries of the knee, for example, is Patellar Tendonitis, Tendonosis, or Tendonopathy commonly diagnosed as a Patellafemoral Syndrome or PFS. Super common in runners and jumpers...(oh wait...isn't running and jumping a general requirement for almost all sports, with a few exceptions sprinkled in?) In my experience, this is typically the result of a biomechanical coordination dysfunction that is responsible -- in other words, a movement issue.

When we apply a repetitive load or stress to anatomical structures (body parts) over periods of time (moving throughout the period of a season in training, the weight room, and out at the pitch game day), overloaded tissues or structures break down faster than it can repair, thus resulting in pain, swelling, and weakness (each having their own reason for occurring and a discussion for another time...because wow is that rabbit hole deep).

Imagine having an office run by 3 people. If 2 of the 3 people don't do the work they're supposed to, the remainder of the slack for the lazy workers falls on the one person remaining to keep the office running to maintain the output. Over time, that leads to burnout, frustration, reduced work capacity (output quality and volume) and a decrease in efficiency until they reach their breaking point and the office has to shut down.

Recognition is KEY.

Seeking the right HELP is also just as important.

Proper management of these kinds of injuries goes much further than the typical "RICE" method everybody has drilled into normal practice and prescription.

When you experience signs and symptoms including:

  • Dull/Achey pain that typically starts either, first thing in the morning after getting out of bed, walking up and down stairs (down typically worse than up), running, jumping, just before an increase in activity, at beginning of training or playing, or at rest typically after training or playing.

  • Sometimes progressing to sharper pain while shooting, kicking, passing (usually long passing elicits more symptoms)

  • Accelerating or decelerating

  • Stiffness when flexing and extending the knee

  • Observable widening or thickening of the tendons (most common is the patellar tendon)

  • Visible and palpable (able to see/feel) swelling

  • Redness

  • Palpable Heat or warmth (at rest is more indicative)

  • Fatigue

  • Reduced Muscle Tone

  • The feeling of "giving away"

  • Development of Secondary Injury or dysfunction due to compensation above or below the knee (ie: low back, hip or ankle pain and stiffness to name a few)

The Answer To Your Main Question: "How do I fix it or make it go away?"

Step 1/1:


Be sure to do your research about clinicians and how they are, who they treat, and what their core values and experiences are.