#AskIDA: Return to Play and Injury Recovery with Dr. Nicole Surdyka
Last year we hosted our first “Ask IDA” webinar with Dr. Karli Richardson around female physiology and injury considerations. We’ve turned it into a quarterly series about topics related to the female athlete experience, and we kicked off 2023 with Dr. Nicole Surdyka to discuss injury recovery considerations.
Related: Female Athlete Physiology and Injuries
Nicole is a physical therapist, certified strength and conditioning coach, and certified performance and sports scientist. She was an NCAA Division 1 college soccer player, a youth soccer coach, the former Rehab Director for the OL Reign in the NWSL, and now works as a physical therapist in professional sport. She speaks at national and international conferences on injuries, rehab, and return to sport in women's soccer, and is passionate about educating young athletes and their parents and coaches about how they can start reducing their risk of injury now. Follow her on Instagram @dr.nicolept!
Plus More Takeaways...
Check out some of the main tips and soundbites the IDA team took away from the event:
ACL Risk Factors – female athletes are at greater risk, but don’t let people “dismiss” this scary statistic as simply due to physiology. There are intrinsic (not in our control) and extrinsic (in our control) risk factors, and we should be exploring and increasing research around both!
Data on Soccer Injuries – there’s great data around the most common soccer related injuries but much of the data is based on men’s UEFA Champions League players. We need more research around our female athletes!
The Injury “Opportunity” – injuries are a mental health burden, but we can also reframe them to be an opportunity to grow in other areas. For many players, injuries are your first chance and exposure to a proper weight training regimen (which is also key for prevention!). It’s also an opportunity to explore improving the tactical side of your game via film sessions for example.
Read More: ACL Recovery Tips & Advice from the IDA Team!
Phases of Recovery and Footwear – while working with soccer players coming back from ACL injuries, Dr. Surdkya mentioned the need to balance slipping and sticking when it comes to selecting footwear. In the early phases of your ACL recovery program, you may want to consider training in a turf shoe or indoor court shoe, to minimize that rotational traction. Once you begin to add changing direction to later phases of your recovery plan, you can begin to add studded cleats, ranging from shorter studs of Firm Ground cleats, to the longer studs of Soft Ground cleats. In the early stages of recovery though, it’s better to slip a little than to stick.
Shop: IDA Spirit indoor court shoes
Common Mistakes in ACL Injury Recovery – Coming back too soon and not setting (or hitting) objective criteria to return. It’s important to build a plan and stick to it. All while getting as strong as possible along the way.
Female Specific Rehab – the research hasn’t caught up and is all based around male athletes! That being said, focus on doing the basics of strength training properly and consistently, and then we can focus on the nuance as research evolves.
IPP = Injury Prevention Programs – the FIFA 11+ warmup is cited as one example of an IPP but players can also look to build a holistic training, conditioning, and strengthening program that gets them in the gym a few times per week. If you don’t have access to that in your club or team, you can always find a sport-specific performance coach to help you build a plan to execute.
Prevention and recovery can’t be a top-down approach for the grassroots game – Professional athletes are not the norm. That’s why they’re the pros! Their training regimens are designed to gain that 1% advantage and may not be right for you and me. For the more grassroots athletes, aka the majority of us, the focus needs to be on doing the fundamentals right and consistent. But information and education around that needs to be more widely distributed to players and coaches of all levels.
What is an injury… technically – At its core, injuries are “when body tissue can no longer tolerate a load”. Strength training is therefore vital to supporting those loads and reducing that risk of injury.
Some final thoughts!
- Want to stay part of these conversations? Follow Dr. Surdyka on Instagram and Twitter. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for access to and updates on future webinars and resources!
Want to give the webinar another watch? You can download the recording above.
- Shop IDA’s women’s specific footwear! We design for women to better support your biomechanics from the ground up. Whether it’s the custom stud configuration on our Firm Ground cleats (also suitable for some artificial turfs) or the enhanced arch support of our Indoor Court shoes, we’re designing for YOU.
- Do you know a player who’s in recovery for an ACL injury? Send them a free pair of IDA socks!