Football has become a huge part of American culture, and is gaining even more popularity every year. There are few families who do not gather around their television regularly to watch this physically intense sport played by world-class athletes. With its huge popularity, it is no surprise that football is the subject of debate everywhere. Some say that it is violent, and that the damage it causes to the players bodies is not worth the risk. Others simply say that the sport is one that requires a certain physical skill set; it is a game of strength and dexterity, and whether someone chooses to risk injury or not is his decision. Whatever your viewpoint, everyone agrees that there certainly is risk involved; below are 5 of the most common injuries that football players experience, along with their remedies and methods for prevention.
1. Concussions. Football is notorious for concussions. Most people have heard at least one story of an ex-professional football player, now plagued by depression or mental illness because of multiple concussions. A concussion is basically a jolt to the head that is evidenced by anything from minor confusion to blacking out. Concussions are so common in football because of the physical nature of the sport; even when a player is hit with a reasonably low force, a concussion can still occur if the player lands the wrong way. There are a few different ways to avoid concussions. The first is to make sure the equipment being used is of high quality and is up to date. Proper training is extremely important; players must know the proper way to receive a hit, as well as the proper force necessary when hitting. Like many other injuries related to football, part of avoiding concussions is keeping away from unnecessary roughness.
2. ACL Tear. This is one injury that is potentially career-ending for football players. The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is the ligament that holds the knee steady while an athlete pivots or rotates. The quick, explosive changes in direction football players perform make them particularly susceptible to ACL tears. Warming up and stretching are simple ways to avoid ACL tears; a good diet with plenty of vitamin D and potassium is another. These injuries are extremely painful and involve slow, deliberate treatment. The most popular tool for professional athletes is the intermittent compression device, which speeds the recovery time greatly for this type of injury.
3. Shoulder Dislocation/Separation. Shoulder dislocations can vary in severity and damage. They are another injury directly related to hitting; some symptoms include a visible lump or obscurity in the shoulder, pain experienced when rotating the shoulder, along with bruising or swelling in the area. Dislocations are much easier to treat than separations; in fact, there have been cases where a player dislocates his shoulder, has it corrected by a trainer, and goes back into the game. This is not usually the case, and is definitely not the best decision; it is always better to wait and give time for ample recovery until the severity of the injury is fully known. A shoulder separation cannot be corrected on the spot, and requires more serious treatment. Warming up and stretching again are the best methods to prevent dislocations, along with correct nutrition.
4. Heat Stroke/Dehydration. The extreme physical effort related to football, along with heavy pads and equipment and hot August temperatures, combine to make the exact conditions in which a heat stroke can happen. The first sign of a possible heat stroke is increased fatigue; when a normally hard-working athlete is playing at a lower level than usual, it is a good decision to take that player out, apply an ice towel, and give enough time for the body to get back to normal. Muscle cramps are another symptom of heat strokes, or simply of dehydration. In both circumstances, drinking enough water is the best solution.
5. Ankle Sprains. A sprained ankle is a football-related injury that is only serious if not treated. With proper rest, hydration, and nutrition, this injury can be healed within two weeks. Proper conditioning makes sprained ankles much less likely to occur by strengthening the muscles around the foot and ankle.
After a football player experiences any of the injuries listed above, or any other injuries associated with the sport, it is important that they seek medical attention immediately. Some college and professional football teams have sports therapists on staff, in some cases players are forced to seek treatment outside of the team staff. In addition, some of these injuries can have long lasting effects even if they are treated immediately by the staff sports therapist. The therapists here at RPI have treated a number of patients who have had a history of sports associated injuries. For more information about our practice, or to set up a consultation contact one of our locations today.