Strength & Conditioning

Basic Anatomy Information

Muscles are elastic structures that move the bones. The main groups for soccer and their purposes are:

The Quadriceps - Located on the front of the thigh. They straighten the knee.
The Hamstrings - Located at the back of the thigh. They bend the knee.
The Calf - Located at the back of the lower leg. Point the foot down by moving the ankle.
The Groin Adductors - Located on the inner aspect of the thigh. They draw the whole leg inward towards the mid-line of the body. Muscles may be bruised or strained

Skeletal Elements

Tendons - Are fibrous elastic structures that attach muscles to bones. The Achilles Tendon is commonly damaged in soccer.
Ligaments - Connect bones together at joints. They try to protect the joint from excessive motion. Ligaments sprained by excessive movement.
Cartilages - Are almost inelastic. Are located in the knee and other joints and are sometimes called Menisci. They assist movement of the knee joint. May be torn by violent rotational movement whilst weight bearing.
Joints - Allow movement of the body. Made up of two or more bones. Joints are surrounded by a capsule of tissue which is filled with fluid. If damaged the fluid protection will become excessive and the joint will swell.

Charley Horse

The Soccer player calls it a Charley Horse, the medical professional would say a contusion of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior thigh.
Regardless to who say's what, the largest muscles in the body are these two giant muscles and they often get damaged,resulting in the big muscles swelling (contusion / bruising) and it usually takes several weeks of pain and disability.

Whether it's soccer, hockey, football these injuries usually come about when knee hits knee or when the thigh strikes a solid mass, maybe like being kicked by a horse.

Over the years the term Charlie Horse has been used to describe a painful leg / thigh cramp that may occur in the Calf muscle area or Quadriceps or even in the Foot arch.

We are told that the term dates back to an American baseball slang when there was a pitcher named Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourne who was known to have suffered from cramps ,go figure

Cause of Cramps

  • Sore Muscles after exercise
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Dietary Mineral Deficiency
  • Dehydration

Treatment for Charley Horse

The treatment is usually "RICE"

R - Rest, do not any activities that cause pain, no sport until pain is gone
I - Immobilize, to eliminate the possible risk of a fracture (we cannot see inside the limb)
C - Cold compressions to the groin area for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off (use towel or cold pack to keep the ice away from direct skin contact)
E - Elevation, elevate if possible to reduce the swelling and only if it does not cause more pain.

This type of injury/cramp can be quickly defused with either a Massage or a Stretching of the effected muscle.

P.S. Soccer players who suffers with persistent cramps should be assessed by their own Doctor

Groin Strains
A groin strain is the partial tearing of the small fibres of the Adductor Muscles and is an injury far more common to the male soccer player than the female players.

There are numerous causes of Groin Strains

  • Failing to Warm-up the muscles
  • Playing soccer on uneven playing surfaces
  • Playing soccer on a hard surfaces
  • Too much exercise
  • Hard tackle or being tackled

Sometimes a soccer player may pull-up suddenly, if this is so, they should not continue to play. Many times players will either pull-up or allow themselves to deny they have an injury and try and play-on, thinking it will go away as they think activity will heal what they feel, not so. This type of injury will take time and patience to recover from.


  • Pain and Tenderness in the Groin area
  • Muscles Stiffness
  • Weakness of the Adductor Muscles
  • Bruising in the Groin area (Blood vessels are broken)
  • Popping, or Snapping feeling as the muscle tears

This strain should be treated carefully starting with "RICE"