Muscles and sports

Muscles working and lower limb effect of soccer 

Soccer is an intense sport that requires the athletes to be active for 90 minutes, covering distances up to 7 miles while playing on the field,

In order to remain fit enough to complete this challenging task, many soccer teams have specialized fitness programs that focus on strengthening and conditioning the muscle groups most often used in soccer. Research states that  athletes sustain injuries at a rate of 7.2 percent of which 79 percent involve the lower limbs, 23 percent that were specific to the thigh. A similar study focusing on professional players conducted found that 92 percent of all muscle injuries were to the muscles groups of leg and lower leg at a rate of 37 percent for hamstrings, 23 percent for adductors, 19 percent for quadriceps and 13 percent calf muscles.

So where are these muscles?

Glute and Hip Muscles

Getting that explosive strength to beat other players to the soccer ball requires more than just your leg muscles. Your glute and hip muscles are also essential. When kicking a ball hard and long, there is a linear relationship between your foot velocity and the velocity of the ball. The speed of your foot combines several factors, including hip rotational torque, quadriceps strength and hip flexor strength. You can further develop these muscles with exercises such as step-ups, weighted deadlifts, forward cone jumps and side lunges.


The muscles of the thigh include three muscle groups: the anterior, posterior and adductors. The most notable of these muscle groups are the anterior muscles that consist of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps and the posterior muscles that contain the hamstring. These muscles are the powerhouse of the body and provide short bursts of energy to allow players to sprint or maintain a steady jog while playing. Developing these muscles will make a player faster, as well as give more power for kicking.


Anatomically, the leg muscles are the muscles that go from below the knee to the ankle. This muscle group supports the vital knee and ankle joints and allows soccer players to sprint, cut quickly and control the muscles of the foot. The gastrocnemius, or the calf muscle, is the most prominent muscle of the lower leg. The two heads of this muscle join together to form an attachment to the heel commonly known as the Achilles tendon and is a common site of injury. It is important for players to develop this muscle group to balance out the powerful muscles of the thigh.

How Does Soccer Affect the Body?

Cardiovascular fitness

Soccer  is a highly anaerobic activity, which means much of the activity takes place beyond your ideal target heart rate range. The action takes place in spurts of high-intensity running, kicking, sliding and jumping, followed by lulls of light jogging or walking as the action shifts to other parts of the field and players.

Muscular strength

Consistent practice and play will increase your muscular strength. Muscular imbalances, however — like stronger muscles in the front vs. the back of your thighs — actually leave you vulnerable to injury. Though running and skill drills are an important part of practice, strength training is equally valuable.

Using your head

Because it requires quick changes of pace and technical agility movements, the connections between your brain and body strengthen. The game is also fluid, meaning there are few set patterns and plays; your brain is constantly computing new strategies and courses of action. Your head is also used to move the ball, which can, unfortunately, lead to concussions.


Although soccer is a noncontact sport, players do run and bump into each other, resulting in concussions, sprains, tears, breaks, bumps and bruises. If you play on turf or carpet, you’ll get skin burns from sliding. A good dynamic stretching routine before you play, and thorough static stretching after each practice or game, will help you improve your flexibility and possibly decrease injuries.


Konstantinos Fousekis 1,2 , Elias Τsepis 2 and George Vagenas , 2010, Lower limb strength in professional soccer players: profile, asymmetry, and training age, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2010) 9, 364-373

Muscles working and the lower limb effect of runners

Muscle Anatomy – An Introduction

The human body is an amazing piece of “machinery,” and muscles are a big part of what drives it.

Did you know there are 3 types of muscle tissue?

Cardiac muscles

Cardiac muscles are solely found in the walls of the heart. They contract the heart to pump blood. Cardiac muscles contain alternating light and dark bands of fibers known as striations. This is all done in our unconscious control. The cardiac muscles have high concentration of mitochondria, myoglobin and a great blood supply allowing for constant aerobic metabolism and resistant to fatigue.

Smooth muscles

These are the muscles of the organs. Smooth muscles are found in the walls of the stomach, urinary bladder, bronchi, esophagus, and in blood vessels. Smooth muscles change shape to facilitate bodily functions, such as blood pressure, digestion, breathing, raising hairs, focusing eye, etc. The second type of muscle tissue is usually involuntary making it under unconscious control also. Further, its tissue is unstriated, meaning it does not have the stripy appearance of cardiac and skeletal muscles.

Skeletal muscles

Skeletal muscles are made of very elastic fibers connected by tissue and named for their location as they are attached to the bones.
The human body contains more than 640 skeletal muscles, accounting for about one-third of the human body mass.

 In fact, there are roughly 650 muscles. Some of our muscles primary functions include moving our body parts, keeping us upright, maintaining posture, generating heat, and operating certain bodily functions, such as digestion and blood pressure.

But when it comes to running, muscles are especially useful. For that reason these are the primary muscle type in the human anatomy.

Why Should You Care

Having a basic knowledge of the muscle groups used the most while running is essential, especially when it comes to strength training and injury prevention.

The Main Muscles

Every muscle plays a role in locomotion. Some are used more than others when running. Also known as movers, these are the muscles engaged and mostly located in the lower limbs.

 The Core Muscles

Most of the core muscles, including the abs, paraspinal, pelvic floor, obliques, erector spinae, multifidus, diaphragm, and hip girdle muscle, are vital for a runner’s form, the efficiency of movement.

Although, as a runner, the muscles of the legs are the source of power, your core muscles are the critical foundation from which all movement, including foot strike, stems.

You can have the strongest legs in the universe, but without a strong core, you won’t be able to engage your legs’ strength efficiently. Furthermore, strength and stability in the core region can also protect your spine and lower back from the impact of running. And that’s a good thing if you ask me.

 Hip Flexors

The hip flexors are the muscles located on the front of the hip, just above the thighs.

Every  time you lift your leg, whether when walking, running, or doing any sort of leg lifting motion, the hip flexors are called into action.

The hip flexors are made of two muscles: the iliacus and the psoas major.

The hips are key for:

  • Moving your legs forward and back while working in conjunction with the hamstrings and quads.
  • Stabilizing the hip joint.
  • Developing good running posture and form.
  • Maintaining a standing position (in conjunction with the muscles of the lower leg, core, neck, and shoulders).
  • Stabilizing the pelvic region while keeping the hips level.

The Gluteals

The gluteals consist of a group of three muscles which make up the butt: The Gluteus Maximus, medius, and minimus. When it comes to running, these are the main source of power. Your glutes have a number of roles in providing stability, power, and strength in the pelvis and hip region in three planes of motion. Especially for:

  • Stabilizing your hips and legs.
  • Extending the hip, then straightening it beneath you. In fact, hip extension is a motion that primarily involves the glutes.
  • Keeping your posture straight, and the trunk stable and upright.
  • Maintaining proper knee alignment while running.

The Quadracepts

As you move your leg forward, you’re primarily using the quadriceps muscles, the muscles located on the front of the thighs.
They  consist of a group of four muscles that include:

  • The Vastus Medialis,
  • Intermedius,
  • Lateralus, and
  • Rectus Femoris.

In essence, your quads help in:

  • Extending the knee. They are, in fact, the primary muscles called upon in the “drive” phase.
  • Bending your hips. Your rectus femoris (see picture) is responsible for flexing the hips—the motion necessary to lift your feet off the ground.
  • Lifting the knee towards the chest—critical for increasing stride length and sprinting speed.
  • Straightening and stabilizing your knees during running stride as the four heads of the quad are connected to the patella—the kneecap.
  • Absorbing the shock of impact upon landing, then dispersing it as it passes through the rest of the body.

The Hamstrings

As your body moves forward, the action switches from the quads to the hamstrings.

The hamstrings are, basically, the single large tendon found behind the knee. The hamstrings span two joints: the hips and knee, and are made up of four muscle-parts. These consist of:

  • The biceps femoris, (two parts: long head and short head).
  • The Semitendinosus, and
  • The Semimembranosus

These muscles are involved in many of our daily activities, including walking, jumping, running, etc.

The hamstrings play a key role during different phases of running gait, but most notably, they are essential for:

  • Initiating knee bending as your body moves forward
  • Flexing your knees, causing your feet to move back toward your butt. This helps provide power to propel you forward.
  • Assisting the extension of thighs by moving the upper leg backward.

The calves

The calves are the muscles located on the back of the lower leg, below your knees.

They consist of:

  • The large gastrocnemius (outer calf), forging the clear bulge beneath the skin and
  • The smaller soleus (inner calf), which is the flat muscle lying underneath the gastrocnemius muscle.

The two calf muscles attach to the heel via the Achilles Tendon, which inserts into the calcaneus, the heel bone.

The calves are essential for:

  • Providing spring in your step as they help in pushing off the ground to move forward.
  • Extending and flexing each foot as you land and push off.
  • Providing movement around the ankle joint and the phalanges. In fact, the calves are called upon during all forms of motion, including running.
  • Maintaining balance and ankle flexion.
  • Reducing shock impact. They absorb much of the impact every time you take a step when running.


The importance of stretching

Stretching is usually thought to be done by those at yoga class. But in reality we all need to stretch whether at work, after a run or at home. By stretching you are protecting your mobility and independence.

A key note is that stretching is not done once so often, it is to be done almost daily.

Why is it important?

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when it is time to use the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which stops walking.

Stretching once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility. You’ll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. It has taken a long time to get tight muscles, so it is impossible to get perfectly flexible after one or two sessions. It takes weeks to months to get flexible, and must remember there is the maintenance afterwards.

Best tips to begin a good program

  • Never stretch before a work out. The fibres must be warm and prepared for the activity. All that needs to be done is 10 minutes of quick waling.
  • Always stretch after an activity.
  • A stretch needs be held for 30 seconds.
  • Stretch a total 15 minutes
  • No bouncing during a stretch. A tension needs to be felt but not pain. If you do there may be an injury and should stop stretching to consult your podiatrist.
  • Stretch daily. It help to decrease stress
  • Always check your technique is correct to avoid injuries and achieve maximum stretch
  • Never hold your breath. Keep breathing freely
  • Always stretch both sides



A stress fracture is an incomplete crack in the bone caused by overuse. A foot that is not structurally sound is prone to developing stress fractures. Even a normal foot can easily develop a stress fracture from repetitive use; symptoms may include pain, redness and swelling.

  • 0.7% – 15% of athletic injuries are stress fractures.
  • Track athletes have the highest amount of stress fractures.
  • The first metatarsal accounts for 10% of metatarsal stress fractures.
  • The second, third and fourth metatarsals account for 90% of the metatarsal injuries.
  • There is a decrease in the incidence of stress fractures in men with lean body mass.
  • 8.8% of stress fractures occur in the metatarsals.
  • 25.3% of stress fractures occur in the tarsal bones.
  • 0.9% of stress fractures occur in the sesamoids.
  • 28% of stress fractures occur in the calcaneus.
  • Overuse or strain of the foot.
  • Medical conditions such as osteoporosis.
  • Medications such as steroids.
  • Sudden increased activity level.
What Can You Do?
  • Use cold compresses or ice.
  • Get complete rest.
  • Elevate your feet.
  • Stay o” your feet.
What Might A Podiatrist Do?
  • Perform a physical examination.
  • Perform x-ray evaluation and future exams as needed.
  • Immobilize or cast the foot/leg.
  • Prescribe orthotic devices.
  • Prescribe custom orthotics for long-term control and prevention.
  • Prescribe medications when indicated.