Football Injury Prevention

Football is the primary cause of school sports injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2012, around 466,492 people were treated for football-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms. Football is a major sport in Mexico, Columbia, Moberly, Fulton, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Dr. Weaver of Audrain Orthopaedics wants to make sure that football players in the Central Missouri area know the facts and can make well informed choices about their health.

Proper Preparation for Play

joint inflammation orthopedic surgery sports medicine football injuries   Maintain fitness. Ensure that you are in good physical condition at the beginning of football season. In the off-season, stick to a balanced fitness plan that includes aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility. If you're out of shape at the beginning of the season, gradually raise your activity level and gradually build back up to a higher fitness level.

•   Pre-season physical. All the athletes should have a pre-season physical to determine their readiness to play and uncover any condition which could limit involvement.

•   Loosen up and stretch. Always make time to warm up and stretch, specifically your hips, knees, thighs, and calves. Scientific studies have shown that cold muscles are far more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, running, or walking in place for three to five minutes. Then carefully and gently stretch, holding every stretch for half a minute.

•   Cool off and stretch. Stretching at the end of practice is too frequently overlooked because of hectic schedules. Stretching can lessen muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Make sure you stretch after each and every training practice to reduce your risk for injury.

•   Stay Hydrated. Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance. If you haven't had enough liquids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation. An overall recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise. Drinking an extra eight ounces of water or sports drink just before exercise is also recommended. While you are exercising, break for an 8 ounce cup of water every 20 minutes or so.

Ensure Proper Equipment

Safety equipment is one of the most important factors in decreasing the risk of injury in football. According to Pop Warner Football, Official Rule Book, players should have the following protective equipment:

•   Helmet

•   Shoulder pads, hip pads, tail pads, knee pads

•   Pants (one piece or shell)

•   Thigh guards

•   Jersey

•   Mouth guard (A keeper strap is needed.)

•   Athletic supporter

•   Shoes (In certain leagues, players may wear sneakers or non-detachable, rubber cleated footwear. Removable cleats of a soft-composition also are permitted in certain leagues. Talk to your coach about the type of shoe allowed in your league.)

•   If eyeglasses must be worn by a player, they should be of approved construction with non-shattering glass (safety glass). Contacts also can be worn.

Get Ready for Injuries

•   Coaches should be educated about first aid and be able to provide it for minor injuries, like facial cuts, bruises, or minor strains and sprains.

•   Be ready for emergencies. All coaches need to have a plan to reach medical personnel for help with more considerable injuries like concussions, dislocations, contusions, sprains, abrasions, and fractures.

Safe Return to Play

A wounded player's symptoms need to be completely gone before returning to play. For example:

•   In the event of a joint problem, the player must have no pain, no swelling, complete range of motion, and normal strength.

•   In case of concussion, the player needs to have no symptoms at rest or with exercise, and should be cleared by the proper medical provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Neurology have established guidelines suggesting that athletes with concussions be examined and cleared by a doctor trained in handling concussions before returning to sports. Dr. Weaver is this kind of doctor for the people of Mexico, Missouri.

Additional Guidelines

Here are a few additional strategies for parents and coaches to assist young athletes in preventing back-to-school sports injuries:

•   It is important for your child to keep active during the summer, so that she or he is ready to start participating in fall sports.

•   During practices, have young people take regular water breaks in order to avoid dehydration and overheating.

•   Learn how to recognize early indications of pain and discomfort in kids, and educate children to understand those signs as well. Let them know they ought to notify their coach or parent as soon as they experience any pain.

•   Avoid the pressure that is now exerted on many young athletes to overtrain. Pay attention to your body and decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. This will certainly reduce the possibility of injury and help stay away from “burn-out.”

If your child takes part in this enjoyable but potentially harmful sport, a lot of the responsibility for safety falls on you. If you are living in the Mid-MO area and have any questions about staying away from or dealing with football-related injuries, get in touch with Dr. Weaver at Audrain Orthopaedics today.

Thanks for your care in the past and especially during my knee replacement.  You made an operation that I dreaded much easier.

B.A. age 81