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Preventing Football Injuries
Football is the leading cause of sports injuries. As a full contact sport, there is a higher risk of injury in football compared to other sports. Tackling, blocking and other physical contact between players can result in a greater risk for concussions, overuse injuries, and other common traumatic injuries that can cause damage. Injuries can’t always be avoided, but following these steps can help you reduce your risk of an injury from occurring and increase the safety of the game.
1. Wear Protective Equipment
One of the most important factors in reducing the risk of injury is wearing appropriately fitted protective equipment. A helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, mouthguard, jockstrap, thigh pads, knee pads, and proper fitting shoes are all basic pieces of equipment that should be worn throughout every practice and game. Wearing protective equipment greatly reduces the chance of you getting injured and makes the sport much safer.
2. Perform Warm-Up and Cool-Down Routines
Before any physical activity, you should always take the time to warm up and stretch. During your warm-up, you should focus on your hips, knees, thighs and calves by incorporating dynamic activities such as jumping jacks, butt kicks, high knees, side shuffles, walking lunges and sprints into your routine. At the end of practice, be sure to cool down with a light jog and static stretching session holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles flexible. Make sure you are stretching after each practice to reduce your risk of injury.
3. Incorporate Strength Training
Strength training and conditioning is crucial to help you prevent any injuries. It physically prepares the body for the high demands of the sport and improves your overall athletic performance. Strength training reduces the risk of injury by improving functional movement through resistance, agility, endurance, power, speed and flexibility training.
It’s important to stay sufficiently hydrated throughout practice or a game to minimize the risk of heat injuries and painful cramping. Intense physical activity can result in excessive sweating that depletes the body of salt and water. This can lead to painful cramping and can progress to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you experience any symptoms of heat injury, take a moment to replenish your fluids and talk to your coach or medical staff as a precaution.
5. Tackle with the Head Up
Tackling with your head up significantly reduces the risk of head and neck injuries. While tackling and blocking, keep your head positioned up to protect yourself from a serious injury and do not lead with your helmet. Do not under any circumstances use your head as a battering ram to knock another player down. This will only lead to injury and a decrease in playing time.
6. Do Not Play Injured
Never play through an injury, no matter how small it is. A minor injury can become more severe and cause you long-term damage. Before you head back into the game, you should get a thorough evaluation by a medical professional such as an athletic trainer or school physician. Even though you may feel fine, the medical professional can identify certain issues that you may have missed.
Injury Prevention Program in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
At JAG-ONE Physical Therapy, we understand that one injury can affect an entire season. That’s why we offer an injury prevention program for athletes and non-athletes alike. This program aims to help individuals ready their body for the stressors that may be placed on it during a sporting event or physical activity, therefore reducing the risk of potential injury that they may suffer while participating or practicing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to meet with a physical therapist to discuss your injury prevention needs.