Three Tips to Prevent Overuse Injuries During Football Season

Christopher C. Dodson, MD August 15th, 2018

The orthopaedic experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute specialize in sports medicine. Learn more about football overuse injuries.

As football season winds down, national attention continues to be directed toward the risks of this popular sport and the measures that can be taken to improve safety. As people consider how to prevent football injuries, much of the discussion will likely revolve around concussions, a major hot topic within NFL football injuries.

However, while recent attention has predominantly focused on concussions, there are other common football injuries and treatments that are of critical importance. Prominent among these sports injuries are overuse injuries during the football season. Overuse injuries vary greatly in terms of specifics and severity— but are consistently common during football season.

Fortunately, another thing that remains consistent is players’ ability to prevent overuse injuries during football season. Simple changes in technique, equipment, intensity, and duration of activity can effectively prevent overuse injuries from occurring. With that in mind, it’s essential to learn more about proactive preventative measures as the season gets underway.

The experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute have compiled the following overview of three of the most common football injuries resulting from overuse for that purpose exactly. We hope you find it helpful.

Three Common Overuse Football Injuries (And How To Prevent Them)

While many football injuries are traumatic in nature (such as broken bones, etc.), the majority of overuse injuries among football players are orthopaedic injuries that result from overexertion, repetitive stress, and wear and tear. The list below highlights three frequently-suffered overuse injuries, as well as the actions you can take to aid in their prevention.

  1. Patellar Tendonitis
    The running, quick pivots, and bracing movements that are a key part of football activity can cause a great deal of stress on the patellar tendon, which attaches the patella to the tibia. The patellar tendon is attached to the quadriceps muscles and serves to straighten the knee. Repetitive, stressful activity can weaken this tendon, causing painful, movement-inhibiting tendonitis and making the tendon prone to tears.

    Strength training and flexibility-enhancing exercises that target the patellar tendon are key to the prevention of patellar injuries. Additionally, tendons are stiff and more prone to damage when cold and inert; be sure to warm up your muscles and tendons prior to football activity and stretch before and after practice.

  2. Shoulder Injuries
    Several shoulder injuries are among the most common overuse injuries during the football season. These include shoulder dislocations and separations, both of which may result from the intense, repetitive throwing motions of many football players. Shoulder separations, which involve the spraining of the joint alongside the collarbone or tearing of the tissue of the shoulder socket, can cause severe pain and reduced mobility of the arm and shoulder. These injuries may require surgery, depending upon their severity.

    The key to shoulder injury prevention is proper technique. Many dislocations and shoulder separations result from incorrect throwing motions. Consulting with your coach to ensure proper technique can help reduce the chance of injury. Moderation of activity is similarly important. Excessive duration or intensity of throwing practice can cause gradual stress and wear that may result in serious injury.

  3. Knee Injuries
    Knee injuries may result from both overuse during football practice or from traumatic accidents. Hard trips, falls, and tackles all may cause tears of the ACL or MCL— but the associated ligaments, tendons, and muscles associated with the knee may also suffer stress injuries and degradation from overuse. Likewise, the meniscus and cartilage of the knee can be damaged from high-impact, repeated motions during football activity; this may result in early-onset arthritis.

    The use of protective equipment—especially knee braces—can effectively prevent traumatic injuries to the knees and reduce the shock that may advance overuse injuries. Overuse injuries of the knees are best prevented by moderation of activity and cessation of activity if knee pain or inflammation begins to occur. If pain does occur, rest, icing, compression, and elevation may help to reduce and alleviate the stress and damage to the affected knee.

While these certainly aren’t the only overuse injuries during football season to be cautious of, the methods for preventing the majority of similar overuse injuries are much the same: rest, moderation of activity, stretching, warming up and cooling down, proper technique, and protective equipment. Practice these precautionary measures to ensure a safe, healthy football season. To learn more about orthopaedic safety and Sports Medicine, contact the experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. To learn more, visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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