Football is one of the most popular sports played by young athletes, and it leads all other sports in the number of injuries sustained. In 2011, there were more than 467,731 athletes that were treated for football-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Football players are very susceptible to concussions. A concussion is a change in mental state due to a traumatic impact. Not all those who suffer a concussion will lose consciousness. Some signs that a concussion has been sustained are headache, dizziness, nausea, balance issues, drowsiness, and numbness/tingling, vision issues, and difficulty concentrating. All athletes should report any symptoms of concussion, and should be removed from play immediately to prevent greater injury. The athlete should return to play only when clearance is granted by a health care professional.
Low-back pain and patellar tendonitis are fairly common complaints in football players due to overuse. Knee pain is a common problem that football players develop and can usually be treated by managing inflammation and a quadriceps strengthening program. Overuse can also lead to overtraining syndrome, when a player trains beyond the ability for the body to recover.
Heat injuries are a major concern for youth football players, especially at the start of training camp. This usually occurs in August when some of the highest temperatures and humidity of the year occur. Intense physical activity can result in excessive sweating that depletes the body of salt and water.
The earliest symptoms are thirst, fatigue and cramping of major muscle groups. However, if not treated with body cooling and fluid replacement, this can progress to heat exhaustion and heat stroke— which is a medical emergency and can result in death. It is important for football players to be aware of the need for fluid replacement and to inform medical staff of symptoms of heat injury.
What are the best ways to prevent injuries?
• Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation
• Perform proper warm-up and cool-down routines for all physical activity
• Incorporate strength training and stretching
• Have regular hydration breaks to maintain health and minimize cramps
• Stay active during the summer off season to prepare for return to sports in the fall
• Wear properly fitted protective equipment for your sport. Such as a helmet, pads, and mouth guard
• Tackle with the head up and do not lead with the helmet
• Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries or prevention strategies
Tips provided above give general information only and are not a substitute for your own good judgment or consultation with a physician.