Football is arguably the top cause of school sports injuries in the US. The most common forms are traumatic injuries, concussions, overuse injuries, and heat-related injuries. A majority of these injuries occur while blocking and tackling. Here are a few preventive measures that can be adopted to minimize the likelihood of injury:
- Maintain Fitness in the Offseason: Follow an offseason fitness program that incorporates strength, endurance, and flexibility training so that you are in good shape at the start of the season.
- Undergo a Pre-Season Physical: This may uncover any physical weakness due to poor offseason training or other limitations that can hinder your participation.
- Warm Up and Stretch: Always take sufficient time to properly warm up and stretch your hips and knees. If your muscles are not adequately warmed up, you are more prone to suffer serious injury. You can also warm up with running and jumping for 4-6 minutes
- Cool Down and Stretch: Cooling down gradually normalizes heart rate and breathing, while stretching reduces the amount of muscle soreness after the training practice.
- Hydration: Drink enough water before, during, and after the game. Even mild dehydration can affect your performance.
- Proper Equipment: The importance of proper equipment cannot be overemphasized. These include helmets, mouth guards, pads for the shoulder, hip, tailbone and knee, proper pants and jersey, thigh guards, athletic supporters, proper shoes, and non-shattering eye glasses if necessary.
- First Aid and Emergencies: Coaches or their assistants should have experience in administering first aid in case of minor injuries, strains, and sprains. There should also be a process in place to provide emergency care for serious injuries such as concussions, dislocations, or fractures.
- Better Safe than Sorry: It is important to recognize early signs of pain and discomfort and notify the coach when you experience pain. Idioms such as “No pain, no gain” or “playing through the pain” may not be in your best interests in the long term.
While it is unrealistic to completely prevent injury while playing football, following these steps can considerably reduce your risks of getting injured. You can reduce your risk of an injury when playing football by spending a few minutes a few times a week doing some pre-season exercises and ensuring you do a good warm up before training or playing.
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.