High school, college, professional, pee wee—America’s love of football has no age limit. Whether you’re cheering for a new generation from the stands or actively striving for that championship ring, our national pastime can come at a painful cost.
While the heavy hitters and professionals are at the greatest risk, even Thanksgiving quarterbacks playing in the backyard can experience common football-related injuries. Just because it’s not full contact doesn’t mean you’re safe from harm.
But knowing what to look for, how to prepare, and how stay fit well before your big (or small) game can increase your chances of getting up off the turf wherever that turf may be.
In order to avoid a Hail Mary with your health, Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons suggest watching out for these common football related injuries:
Meniscus Tear – Knee
Football is played in three dimensions, but even with both feet on the ground, chances for injury can be high. Forceful twisting, pivoting, or changes in direction can put a lot of strain on your knees, and depending on your knee health, you may be courting disaster.
Meniscus tears occur when cartilage between shinbone and thighbone is torn leading to pain, swelling, and difficulty extending the effected leg. Along with ACL injuries, meniscus tears can be seriously sidelining, but proper preparation might lessen the odds of lasting damage.
To avoid meniscus tears, a stretch and warmup go a long way. A knee brace combined with regular strength training for your legs could lessen your chances as well. Icing your knees after a game can keep the swelling down, but if you experience regular pain and stiffness, you may need to consult a physician.
AC Separation – Shoulder
An acromioclavicular (AC) joint separation occurs frequently in contact or falling sports. A blow to the shoulder separates the collarbone from the shoulder blade. Pain, weakness, swelling, and difficulty moving the affected arm overhead can all occur with an AC separation.
As with your knees, keeping the shoulders strong and agile is the best defense. Regularly performing strength-training exercises with different ranges of motion can keep your shoulders limber and strong.
Preventing AC separations can be tricky, especially when playing football. If you don’t have to make contact, and if you don’t have to tackle or fall, you might want to consider touch or flag football as a much safer alternative.
Lateral Sprain – Ankle
From the backyard hero to the gristled gridiron vet, lateral ankle sprains spare no one. In all the spinning, shoving, running, and throwing excitement of the football game, your ankles can be the last thing you think about.
Lateral sprains occur when the foot rolls, twists, or is pulled in an awkward way stretching or tearing the ligaments that hold the ankle together. As with the previous injuries on this list, you can expect pain, swelling, and a limited range of motion.
Ice and rest can take care of mild sprains, but if the pain and swelling persist, you will need to consult an orthopaedic physician. Moving is essential to maintaining your health, and without healthy ankles, even great knees won’t matter much.
Self-care is its own Touchdown
Some are prepared to give it all up for the glory of the game, but fame today could mean pain tomorrow and possibly for the rest of your life. Playing responsibly, knowing your limits, weight-training, and proper warmups can keep you able for longer.
If you or the football player in your life experience frequent injuries or pain, consider taking the first step towards healing with Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons. Your physicians can keep you playing pain free for years to come.