Football is the sport played most consistently around the world. It’s not sectioned off or dominated by one particular country. According to FIFA’s most recent Big Count survey, there are 265 million players actively involved in football around the world, roughly about 4 percent of the world’s population. All of these players are at risk of a number of injuries, a few which are career ending, here are the main injuries as well as how to limit the probability of them occurring.
Research conducted by the NCAA (per thousand games) found the main categories of football injuries which are as follows:
- Muscle strains (25.8%)
- Ligament sprains (25.3%)
- Traumatic (20.3%)
- Concussions (5.5%)
- Overuse (3.7%)
- Heat Injuries (2.9%)
Knee injuries in football are the most common, especially those to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) and to the menisci (cartilage of the knee). These knee injuries can adversely affect a player’s long term involvement in the sport. Football players also have a higher chance of ankle sprains due to the surfaces played on and cutting motions. Shoulder injuries are also quite common and the labrum (cartilage bumper surrounding the socket part of the shoulder) is particularly susceptible to injury.
Football players are very susceptible to concussions. A concussion is a change in the 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 a headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, drowsiness, numbness/tingling, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision. The athlete should return to play only when clearance is granted by a professional.
Lastly, heat injuries are a major concern, especially for youth football players. This usually occurs in summer months 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. As a result players will likely experience cramp, as well as heat stroke in hot countries.
Here is how to minimize the chances of these injuries:
- Perform proper warm-up and cool-down routines
- Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching
- Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps
- Stay active during any breaks to keep fitness levels high
- Wear properly fitted protective equipment, such as a shin pads
- Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about football injuries or football injury prevention strategies