Football season is in full swing. With the combination of high speeds and full contact, injuries occur during games and practice. Below are the top six preventable football injuries to be aware of this season.
Knees: Knee injuries in football are the most common injuries, especially to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) and the menisci or cartilage of the knee. Patellar tendinitis (knee pain) is a common problem that football players develop. This can be treated by a quadriceps strengthening program.
Ankles: The cutting motions in football as well as the surface they play on tend to give football players a high risk for ankle sprains or injuries.
Shoulders: Shoulder injuries are quite common in football. The labrum (cartilage surrounding the socket part of the shoulder) is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in linemen both offensive and defensive. Injuries to the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) are also often seen.
Concussions: Football players are at very high risk for concussions. A concussion is a change in mental state due to a traumatic impact. Some signs of a concussion are headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, drowsiness, numbness/tingling, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision. The athlete should return to play only when clearance has been granted by a health care professional.
Overuse Injuries: Overuse injuries are often seen in football players. Low back pain or back pain in general is a usual complaint due to overuse. This can also lead to over-training syndrome, when a player trains beyond the ability for the body to recover.
Heat Injuries: Heat injuries are a major concern for young football players, especially at the beginning of training season. This usually occurs in August and early September when some of the highest temperatures and humidity occur. Excessive sweating can deplete the body of salt and water during intense training. Symptoms start with cramping in the major muscle groups. If this is not treated with cooling the body and fluid replacement, heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur which can lead to death. Football players need to be aware of the need for fluid replacement and to inform coaching/medical staff of symptoms of heat injury.
How to prevent football injuries:
- Stay active during the off season to prepare for sports in the fall.
- Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation.
- Always perform proper warm-up and cool-down routines.
- Incorporate strength training and stretching into your workouts.
- Hydrate adequately to maintain health and avoid cramps.
- Wear properly fitted protective gear from helmet to footwear.
- Tackle with the head up and do not lead with the helmet.
- Talk to a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns and football injuries or how to prevent them.