Football is one of America’s favorite pastimes. From “pee-wee” leagues to professional football, the impact the sport has is ingrained in our society. It's important to recognize the risk that comes along with playing a contact sport such as football. Spinal injuries remain a serious concern in the game for all ages.
Cervical spine injuries have been estimated to occur in 10% to 15% of football players, most commonly in linemen, defensive ends, and linebackers. Disc herniations account for about 28% of lumbar spine injuries in football. The mechanism of injury is not well understood but is related to blocking and tackling, with offensive and defensive linemen being the most commonly injured players.
In any contact sports, there are best practices that players should follow to reduce the likelihood of sustaining serious or potentially catastrophic injuries. With an estimated 1.2 million injuries being sustained annually in football, let’s look at some things that can be done to prevent the most common football injuries.
Ways to Prevent Injuries
- Always wear well fitting protective equipment such as helmets, pads, football shoes and mouth-guards
- Use proper form and techniques
- Take the time to warm up thoroughly before each game and cool down afterwards by performing gentle stretches
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water to prevent the risk of developing muscle cramps and dehydration
- Be consistent with your strength training program and other conditioning exercises, so you are fit enough to withstand the rigors of the game
- Don’t play through the pain; getting caught up in the heat of the moment and pushing your body to the limit greatly increases the likelihood of injury
- Be sure there is proper supervision for younger athletes
If you experience any kind of pain, it is better to discontinue playing until your condition is evaluated and treated. This will ensure quicker return to the sport you love, rather playing through the pain and risking serious injury that could put you out of the game for the whole season or perhaps longer.
Dr Payam Moazzaz specializes in advanced minimally invasive spine surgery that enables faster recovery and return to active lifestyles. For all appointments and inquiries, please call (760) 904 5444 .