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Soccer is already a global powerhouse sport that is now growing in popularity in the United States as well. However, as more and more people play soccer stateside, the number of soccer injuries is also increasing. 

Even though soccer is less aggressive than other sports such as American football, injury rates are still high due to the fast-paced nature of the game and frequent turns. Before you lace up your cleats, here are some tips for staying injury-free.

Prepare Yourself and the Field

The right equipment can go a long way to preventing injury. Soccer has a short list of required gear, but it’s all there for a reason. Make sure you’re wearing shin guards and molded cleats with good traction to prevent injury.

If you’re responsible for the equipment and field on your team, you can prevent injuries by using synthetic balls instead of leather, padding and securing goals, and keeping the field in good condition.

Take Care of Your Body

If you’re playing any sport, you know the importance of taking good care of your body. Maintaining a good physical condition with a balanced workout routine even during the off-season can prevent muscle strains and other injuries from exertion.

When you have practice or games, be sure to warm up with light exercise and stretch before engaging in any strenuous activity because cold muscles are much more likely to experience injuries. Cool-downs are also important to prevent shocking your muscles. Finally, hydrating before and during exercise helps improve your performance and reduce injury risks.

Stay Prepared

Be prepared for the worst to happen during a game. Ensure that you have medical equipment and trained people on hand to help during an injury. Play with a trained referee that knows how to control games to minimize rough play.

Part of preparation is also knowing what to do in case of an injury. If you are hurt, seek medical help and listen to advice—don’t try to rush your return.

Injuries are part of any sport, but with some preparation, you can minimize your risk.