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Football: Safety Tips

IMAGE Each week during football season, dozens of college and professional players suffer serious injuries. Contact football is an injury-ridden sport. However, don't let that scare you away from a friendly game of touch football. Here are some tips on playing it safe.

Weekend Warriors

Football is a demanding game. Even those who play touch football are running hard and having collisions.
As with most sports, especially if you haven't been working out to stay in shape, you run the risk of an injury . Common injuries in football include knee and shoulder injuries, overuse injuries, and concussions.
Recreational football players also tend to have more muscle-related problems, like over-stretched or pulled muscles, from doing too much, too suddenly. Delayed onset muscles soreness is common a day or two after playing.

Stay in Playing Shape

The most important thing you can do to avoid these injuries is prepare your body so it doesn't have to do more than it can handle. Plan on maintaining flexibility and doing aerobic activities, strength activities, and endurance activities to stay in shape.
Beyond basic fitness, doing sport-specific drills can help prevent a lot of soreness. Try sprints and drills that incorporate lateral movement.
Before doing this kind of drill, of course, make sure you have warmed up with some light aerobic activity. There's no point in getting injured while you're training to prevent injury.

Game Day

When game day arrives, get your heart rate up with light aerobic activity. Then, add a little harder running to get your legs warmed up and ready to go.

Weather

Be aware that your chances of injury increase with certain weather conditions. In rainy, sloppy weather, you're more likely to fall or slip and pull something. If it's winter, then the ground will be hard and you'll feel the fall even more.

Common Sense

Playing any sport leaves you at risk to get hurt. It's as simple as that. But that's no reason not to play—what fun is that? In football, as with most sports, there are simple precautions you can take to make the game a little safer:
  • Stay away from concrete or other hard surfaces.
  • If you wear glasses, make sure they're strapped on.
  • Don't play with a leg brace. It could hurt someone else. If you must wear a brace, make sure it's covered with adequate padding.
  • Consider arm pads. Some players who know they'll be doing light blocking use this protective option.
  • Warm up well. Make sure you warm up or the hard running, sprinting, and direction changing is going to hurt.
Finding an activity you enjoy like football is a great way to get some physical activity in every week. With common sense and some basic conditioning, you can keep yourself in the game all season!

RESOURCES

American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org

American Society of Exercise Physiologists http://www.asep.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca

Healthy Canadians http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca

References

Preventing football injuries. Stop Sports Injuries website. Available at: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/football-injury-prevention.aspx#types. Accessed January 15, 2014.

Safety Tips: Football. Nemours' KidsHealth website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/sports%5Fsafety/safety%5Ffootball.html. Updated January 2014. Accessed January 15, 2014.

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