It’s been a grueling season for professional football, but this Sunday, Carolina will finally go head to head with Denver in the Big Game. Though we can’t know if a starting player will miss playing time due to injury, there are currently 20 players between the two teams on injured active reserve.
Football is an extremely physical sport, and athletes play for the love of the game despite the risk of injuries. But what are the most common injuries that sideline football players? Any of the following injuries can keep a player — amateur, youth, college or pro — out of the game for any length of time, from a few days to an entire season.
The most common injuries in football are knee injuries, such as a torn ACL, MCL or meniscus. These types of injuries often require surgery and can affect a player long-term.
Ankle injuries are also common in football due to the field’s surface, players’ sudden motions and the fast-paced nature of the sport.
Shoulder injuries are another type of common traumatic football injury. Offensive and defensive linemen are particularly susceptible to shoulder injuries.
Overuse injuries are the result of overtraining. Back pain and knee pain are common overuse injuries in football. These types of injuries can generally be prevented with a carefully managed training program, proper stretching and adequate rest.
Football is a high-speed contact sport which makes players especially susceptible to head injuries. The NFL reported that concussions rose 58 percent during the regular season this year, reaching the highest number in four years.
A concussion is the result of traumatic impact to the head, and players can suffer a concussion with or without a helmet. Concussions can be very serious, and athletes who have suffered a concussion should only return to the game once he or she has been cleared by a medical professional.
How can common football injuries be prevented?
Some football injuries cannot be prevented due to the physical nature of the sport. However, there are steps football players can take to reduce their risk of injury. These include:
• A pre-season health and wellness evaluation.
• Proper warm-up and cool-down routines.
• Regular strength training and stretching.
• Adequate hydration.
• An active off-season.
• Using properly fitting safety equipment, including pads, helmets and a mouth guard
• Keeping the head up when tackling and avoiding leading with the head
Even when an athlete’s injury is seemingly minor, the player must always be examined by a healthcare professional to avoid long-term damage or reinjury.