Gathering Wisdom from Others Over 35

Hi guys

I am about to hit 37 soon. I list, run and play soccer occassionally. Since I hit 35, I seem to get injured all the time. I used to play soccer at a semi pro level, now I am in the amateur league, but last 2 seasons I always get injured for the entire season.

Any advise will be appreciated. I just want to enjoy more competitive soccer and not get injured.

did you do some sort of pre-season prep? E.g. strengthen legs and improve cardio before the games start… can help with impact injuries.
assuming warm ups are done before the games?
were the injuries just occuring or the results of fouls? always the same issue?
didnt play soccer myself but everyone I know that continued at your age had repeated issues with knees.

I love football (it’s real name). I’m Glaswegian so it’s in my blood.

As much as I love it, I’m also scared to play it as I get older because the injury rate is so high. I have worked in facilities with football pitches and phoning ambulances for guys with broken ankles and snapped knees was a daily occurrence. It’s actually horrific

Bear in mind that Rugby was also played on said facility and the injury rate was significantly lower :joy:

I know it’s not the advice you’re looking for. You just gave me food for thought

I’m sure @antiquity can chime in as he plays.


Ah man, me too. I was playing for a 5-a-side team. Had some time off, felt a twinge in the warm-up, pulled my hamstring a few minutes into the game. Was hard to train legs for a couple of weeks. A few months after I was having a casual kick-a-about and my ankle went a bit, lucky to get away with a sprain but it still messed my walking up for 3 weeks!

I decided I care more about the gym so stick to just coaching under-11s rather than playing!


Thanks @ChongLordUno .

I’m 49 and play in amateur outdoor leagues and pickup indoor soccer as well. I am always told “you’re so lucky” in that I still play relatively competitively and largely avoid injury. I have thought about this quite a bit, and here are my thoughts:

  1. Any time you compete, no matter how warmed up and in shape you are, you can twist an ankle or knee or simply collide with someone. You have to be willing to take that risk. I had a nasty ankle sprain a few years back, which is just a possibility when playing on less-than-stellar outdoor fields.

  2. But, I’m also convinced that most “older” people that get injured simply running, jumping, and exerting themselves is due to mobility (or lack of). Think of a child: they can flip, tumble, fall, and get right back up. They are ultra mobile and bendy with a huge range of motion. As most transition into older age, they naturally lose this range of motion if they don’t combat it. They move more gingerly, and any sudden movement outside of their limited mobility will result in a muscle strain, tear, sprain, etc…

This relates to playing soccer or just being able to kick ass as we age: focus on strength/conditioning, speed, and mobility. These are hallmarks of youth and remaining injury free. I spend time each and every day on mobility work and do dedicated yoga sessions each week. I also focus on jumping, throwing, and hard conditioning. Most will gravitate towards steady state cardio machines and isolation work as they age, and wonder why they are slow and injury prone.

37 is young. Some of the best athletes in the world are around that age (Lebron, Messi, Aaron Rodgers). You can be better than ever at that age, and have years and years of high level competition ahead of you. It just takes a different approach as you get older.


I’m only 34 but have successfully worked with many people in your situation. Here are some observations that might be helpful:

  • The majority of soccer injuries occur in the second half of games during the first half of the season. This is when fatigue is the highest and preparation/ fitness is the lowest. Young guys seem to be able to get away with “playing themselves into shape”, but dude over 35 just can’t. You have to switch your perspective and off-season training so you go into game 1 in shape.

  • Ankles, groins, and hamstrings need to be able to tolerate a ton of force. Repeat jumps work for ankles, knee-flexion and hip extension components of the hamstrings should likely be trained, and copenhagen side plank progressions work well to get the adductors to tolerate a lot of tension.

  • Off-season training can be 3x per week in the weightroom, but in-season should drop down to 2 and should focus on maintaining strength in 1-2 big exercises and keeping the above areas on the body resilient. Don’t try to be a rockstar in the weightroom and on the pitch at the same time.

  • Conditioning should be specific to your position, but no matter what, you’re going to need a huge aerobic base. Fatigue changes everything. Remember the first point and do your long, slow work.

  • At least 1 day per week during the offseason, work on acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. This honestly doesn’t need to be super fancy or technical, but again: you want your body to be accustomed to those forces before your first game.

I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. I should be able to provide more specific information if you have any direct questions.


All this makes it even more impressive that someone like Adebayo Akinfenwa played professionally until he just about turned 40.

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@Chieftain, yes I always prepare. I also coach the team, so we kind of have some pre season.

@antiquity in general I am mobile, but I get your point. I do feel a lot more slower and not dynamic enough. Mobility work is a good advise.

@TrevorLPT in general I prepare but Autum season I indeed pulled a hamstring in the first game and just fully recovered. Perhaps I should start as a sub in the first 2-3 games.

It has been hamstrings and ankles for me mostly.

I have been ignoring acceleration and de acceleration for too long and you may have a point. I have been ignoring long runs as well. I mostly prepare myself in with 4x4 - 4 minutes dynamic/fast run with 3 min mins recovery speed, repeated 4 times for a total of 28 minutes. Perhaps I should try to get some 1 hour slow runs to strenghten my joints

Sounds like you have some low hanging fruit to grab. How much time and how many days do you have to train? I could write up a general plan for you if you’re interested.

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Jesus wept he looks like a beast. Most football (soccer for you foreigners) ballers have the bodies of little girls or have a beer gut at lower levels, it’s very strange to see a beast like that.

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He’s from London and had to move to Lithuania for his first contract. Suffered a ton of racial abuse from his own teams fans! Managed to keep grinding and eventually won them over. Failed medicals, broke his leg, fractured his shin, got released from clubs, played for 5 clubs in just the one season because things kept going wrong. Still made it in the end. Still can bench 180kg+, Dude is super-inspiring.

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Dude looks like a real (USA!) football player, and at the top end of the pool at that


As a supporter of a lower league club I watched a lot of Akinfenwa over the years, he certainly doesn’t look like he belongs on a football pitch. Used to take his fair share of banter sometimes bordering abuse, took it all on his (very broad) shoulders and replied in a manner he knew best by just being a nightmare to defend against.

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Here’s the general off-season plan I gave to a 38 year old recreational soccer player with repeated hamstring tears and ankle sprains. Keep in mind that this was after being cleared for all activity by a physical therapist. He used this general structure for 3 off-seasons that we worked together and never missed a game due to injury in those three years:

Monday (Strength):

Sagittal plane hop progression*: 50-100 total ground contacts

A1: Trap Bar Deadlift 3x3-5

B1: DB Bench Press 3x8-10
B2: DB Row 3x8-10

C1: Knee Flexion Progression*: 2x8-12
C2: Half Kneeling Cable Chops: 2 sets/ side

Tuesday (aerobic):

45-75 minutes of aerobic work. Either steady state cardio between 120 and 140 BPM, tempo runs, or a combo of the two.

Wednesday (muscular endurance and alactic conditioning):

Box jumps: 10 total

3-4 rounds:

A1: Pushup to downward dog x 10-15
A2: Goblet lateral lunges x 10-15/ side
A3: Inverted Rows x 10-15
A4: Supported Single Leg RDL x 10-15/ side

Sled or bike sprints: 8 seconds on/ 52 seconds off. 6-12 repeats

Thursday (aerobic):

Same as Tuesday

Friday (Strength)

Frontal plane hop progression*: 50-100 total ground contacts

A1: Weighted Chin Up 3x4-6

B1: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats 3x8-10
B2: Landmine Press 3x8-10

C1: Copenhagen Side Plank Progression*: 2 sets/ side
C2: Dead Bugs: 2 sets

Saturday (Acceleration, Deceleration, Change of Direction)

This day was done outside, and consisted of 30-45 minutes of various cone drills. Tons of options, and as long as you’re accelerating quickly, stopping suddenly, turning, and changing directions, you’re probably fine. You want to start the offseason at 65-70% intensity and focus on technique and building confidence. Bump the speed and intensity up slowly as you nudge the total volume down a bit. By the end of the offseason, you want to be able to go from a dead stop to a full-speed, full-pitch run without any fear or trepidation.

  • Progressions I used:

Sagittal plane hops: Bilateral Pogo Hops > Forwards and Backwards Line Hops > Bilateral Forward Hurdle Hops > Unilateral Forwards and Backwards Hops > Unilateral Forward Hurdle Hops

Frontal plane hops: Bilateral Side-to-side Hops > Unilateral Side-to-side Hops > Bilateral Lateral Hurdle Hops > Unilateral Lateral Hurdle Hops (Stick the Landing) > Unilateral Lateral Hurdle Hops (“Bouncy”)

Knee Flexion: Hamstring Curls > Unilateral Hamstring Curls > 2:1 Hamstring Curls > Band-Assisted Nordic Hamstring Curls > Nordic Hamstring Curls

Copenhagen Side Plank: Both knees bent and bottom leg on ground > Top Leg straight, bottom bent and on ground > Both legs straight and bottom leg on ground > Both legs straight and bottom leg lifted > Both legs straight, bottom leg lifted, and top leg on a high box


Hey man, thanks for the work you have put into this.

No prob. I knew I had it saved somewhere – just had to find it and copy and paste it over. haha

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Cool program. And nice progressions for the hops and planks.

Do you have any regressions/progressions for the Lateral Lunges?

Yes, but I’d typically only worry about regressing if someone had a previous adductor injury. It’d look something like this:

Supported lateral split squats > reaching lateral split squats > reaching lateral lunge > goblet lateral lunge > walking lateral lunge

“Reaching” in this case refers to holding a 5-10 lb plate in both hands and reaching it forward as they lunge down. Helps shift their center of gravity backwards, load the hip, and get a deeper stretch on the “straight” leg.

The walking variation is sort of a weird exercise but can be helpful for people who have a hard time loading into the “receiving” hip. You’ll typically see this on the field when someone does a cut – they’ll either do a hard stop because they can’t absorb force well on that side, or they’ll do something wonky with their knee as a way to “fake” the right position. In order to do the exercise, you really need to shift your center of gravity over to the working leg and “hang on” as you step over.

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Glad I rediscovered this old post. When I read it at the time I didn’t think it was relevant to me.

A few posts above yours I mentioned a “hamstring tear” I got playing five a side a few years back. Soon after I discovered a big lump at the top of my inner thigh and found out it was actually an adductor tear that’s been a nuisance ever since. After the original injury I was back in the squat rack 10 days later never thinking about it again until around 2 years later.

Do you think I should give up on having the squat in my routine? I recently got another small strain in it a day after squatting by just doing a short jog with a few of the girls I coach. I’ve seen a physio but it’s pretty basic stuff you can find online anyway. Isometric holds and doing some adduction using a cable machine or resistant band etc. The scar tissue feels like half a cricket ball is coming out of the top of my leg, and everything below that seems severely atrophied despite me continuing to train the big movements.

Big disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, so take everything I say with a big ole’ grain of salt.

The ball of “scar tissue” and the atrophy below sound like a bad deal. Are you sure you haven’t fully ruptured the distal tendon (the one towards the knee) and that ball is actually the muscle bunched up in your groin? It’s fairly rare because that’s a pretty robust tendon, but it does happen occasionally. You can see what one looks like here:

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