In 2012, an estimated 466,492 people were taken to the emergency room with football-related injuries. Now that football season is in full swing, it’s important for athletes to take precautions in order to have a full and healthy season. Read below to learn several ways that players can maintain optimal health this football season.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Since most football teams start practice in the late summer, heat-related injuries are becoming more and more prevalent. Heavy pads and helmets only make matters worse. However, heat injuries are completely preventable with proper hydration. During practice and games, make sure you take frequent breaks to replenish lost fluids, whether you feel thirsty or not. Experts recommend that athletes consume 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid two hours before exercising. During a game or practice, the rule of thumb is to drink an eight ounce cup of water every 20 minutes.
- Maintain physical fitness: It’s important that athletes participate in aerobic exercise and strength training during the off-season to prevent injury during the season. Prior to any physical activity, athletes should warm up and stretch. Muscles that are “cold” and have not been stretched are at a higher risk of injury. Stretching at the end of practices and games is just as crucial, as this prevents muscle soreness.
- Be properly equipped: Ensuring that your equipment is up to par is crucial to preventing injury. Football players should have a helmet, shoulder pads, hip pads, tail pads, knee pads, pants, thigh guards, a jersey, a mouth guard, an athletic supporter and shoes.
- Get a pre-season physical: Before the start of the football season, athletes should be fully examined by a doctor to ensure there are no conditions that would limit their play. Players should be sure to discuss any muscle or joint pain with the doctor, as this could be an underlying problem that might flare up during the season.
While football can be a dangerous sport, there are many ways players can minimize the risk of injury. Before the season begins, meet with your coaches to come up with a plan in case of a medical emergency or injury. Coaches should also be knowledgeable about first aid. It is also smart to ensure a that coach or team parent (who will attend all practices and games) is CPR certified in case of emergency.