Common Injuries In High School Football Athletes (and what you can do to prevent them!)
High school athletes, especially athletes participating in high impact, dynamic sports such as football, are susceptible to injury for a number of reasons, While it may seem that many of these injuries come on “unexpectedly”, there are several warning signs and preventative steps that can be taken to catch an injury before it happens. Our goal is to educate both coaches and parents in what can cause injury in our student athletes, what we can do from a training and preventative standpoint to help decrease the likelihood of an injury occurring, and what both you and the athletes should should be doing NOW to prepare them for the intense training months and season that lie ahead!
THE 3 MOST COMMON INJURIES THAT WE TREAT IN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ATHLETES:
Knee (Primarily ACL & Meniscal Tears)
Shoulder (Labral and Rotator Cuff Tears)
Back (Lumbar strains and sprains)
THE MAJOR CAUSES OF THESE INJURIES:
Major injuries tend to occur for two reasons. Either the athlete incurs a direct hit to area, which may happen during a tackle, a fall, or other sport related contact, or the muscle or joint has been overloaded (overused) due to a weakness or insufficiency elsewhere. This will cause the muscle or joint to compensate for that weakness and therefore it becomes overworked - making it more susceptible to injury.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT OR DECREASE INJURIES:
There are several proactive efforts that can be taken to prevent, or decrease the likelihood, of an injury from happening. Here are our top four recommendations:
IMPLEMENT A PROPER STRENGTHENING PROGRAM
This is essential for ensuring that all muscles (joints + ligaments) are being strengthened properly, with good form and technique, specific to the athlete’s particular sport.
Proper strengthening will provide more stabilization and protection to surrounding joints that support the primary area where injury may occur.
It’s important that the programming is well-rounded and not only focuses on building strength, but also strengthening smaller stabilizing muscles that often get overlooked.
A consistent stretching and mobility program should be implemented to ensure that all joints are able to effectively move throughout their full range of motion. This increases the joints ability to respond to dynamic movement and impacts.
EFFECTIVE WARM-UP PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE
Sport-specific, dynamic warm-ups should always be performed prior to practice and games. This is recommended over static stretching.
Dynamic movement helps to increase blood flow throughout the body and to the muscles, priming them for the activity that is to follow.
ADEQUATE REST TIME AND MAINTENANCE
Taking appropriate rest time and breaks from high intensity activity should be implemented regularly. This allows the muscles to rebuild and recover after intense activity or overuse, making them better able to react and respond to high intensity activity.
Utilizing ice or heat may also be beneficial for recovery.
Look for these red flags that could indicate an impending injury or setback:
If the athlete is having these complaints longer than 2-3 days, we recommend they see a physical therapist or other provider to ensure that there is not a more serious, underlying issues. At this point, a physical therapist can perform a thorough exam to determine where the pain is coming from, and what can be done to provide a long term solution, often times preventing serious injuries that may require surgery.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We help athletes prevent impending injury and perform at their highest level through physiotherapy and training programs designed to correct muscle imbalances, strengthen stabilizing muscles, and learn proper technique and body mechanics. If you know an athlete experiencing any of the warning signs above, you can help them avoid a season of sitting on the sidelines by booking a Complimentary Injury Prevention Screen with our physio team.
To find out if your student athlete qualifies, or to ask more questions, you can call to speak with a specialist at 724-982-4266.