When it comes to sports, there are few which require the level of stamina, overall fitness, endurance and strength as soccer. To prepare a soccer player for the rigors and stress of a 90 minute, non-stop game, soccer fitness training is equally as intense and demanding on the player and the body. One of the most stressed parts of the body ia the knees, and they take a severe pounding due to all the running, turning and the snapping extension of a hard kicked pass, clear or shot of the ball.
In order to be in the shape demanded of the sport, soccer players do a great deal of running, both in short bursts doing beep-beep drills and distance running for stamina. The constant impact of the foot hitting the ground places enormous stress on the knees and their shock absorbing abilities. It is not uncommon for soccer players to have bad knees or knee problems as they get older.
Typical Soccer Fitness Hazards
A typical day would start with stretching to warm up the muscles and get the blood flowing followed by a long running session. Running 5 miles a day is rather common with serious soccer players, as a part of their fitness training. Shoes are very important, as they will help to absorb some of the shock sent to the knees when they hit the ground with each step. But, the knees still have to deal with lower levels of this shock for a long time.
Not only do the knees have to deal with the constant pounding from running, turning is an issue as well. Playing on grass and AstroTurf each hold their own specific dangers when making repeated quick turns during training or a game. Soccer players wear cleated shoes on grass fields to give them better traction, which allows better footing as well as the ability to stop quickly and turn quickly. On AstroTurf fields, they wear special shoes to accomplish the same effects which grip the fake grass very effectively.
The problem with that level of traction and turning quickly turns into blown knees. If the foot gets stuck in the grass, or the contact between the shoe and the AstroTurf is rather solid, the player’s leg could turn, but not the foot. This places extreme stress on the knees and, in some cases, blow the knee out. This normally involves the ACL when the ligament mainly used for stabilization is torn (it is not an uncommon injury).
The Short Answer
The short answer to the question of whether or not soccer fitness training is hard on the knees is yes, yes it is. In order to stay in soccer-playing shape, a lot of running is involved. Drills involving sprinting and turning quickly are also involved. Drills, involving dribbling a ball through cones and other players, also take their toll on the knees.
As long as the player is wearing a very well designed pair of running shoes to absorb as much of the shocks received and stretches properly, many injuries can be avoided. However, the knees will still take a pounding no matter what.