How to prevent knee injuries in football

Football is a popular sport, but did you know it’s the number one cause of school sports-related injuries? Knee injuries, especially damage to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament or to the knee’s cartilage, are the most common injuries in football. Preventing these injuries is important because knee problems can affect a player adversely in the long term.

  • Stay physically fit. Even during the off-season, it’s important to stay active, so your muscles stay well-conditioned. This can be accomplished through a fitness regimen that includes aerobic exercise as well as strength and flexibility training. If you are not in good physical condition at the beginning of the season, it’s wise to build your activity level slowly, easing back into a better level of fitness. Players should have a pre-season physical to make sure of their health and ability to participate in the game.

  • Take time to warm up and cool down. Before physical exertion, take time to warm up and stretch, focusing on knees, thighs and calves, because cold muscles are more easily injured. After a practice or workout, cool down and stretch to keep your muscles flexible.

  • Stay hydrated. Athletic performance is negatively impacted by even mild levels of dehydration, so drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated liquid two hours before practice, and 8 ounces right before practice. It’s also helpful to take a water break every 20 minutes.

  • Use the right equipment. Each piece of protective gear used in football serves a purpose, and consistently wearing this equipment reduces the risk of injuries. For knees, wear knee pads, but know that protecting the rest of your body also contributes to the protection of your knees.

  • Be prepared for injuries. Only train with coaches who are knowledgeable about first aid and minor injuries. There should also be a plan in place to reach a medical professional for help with more significant injuries. Listen to your body: See a doctor if something seems wrong, and don’t be so eager to go back to practice after an injury that you push yourself too soon.

If you do find yourself facing a knee injury, the Knee Institute can help. At the Knee Institute, we’re proud of our status as the only facility in Michigan accredited with the OsteoArthritis Centers of America. We take a whole-body approach to wellness, focusing on helping people improve their overall quality of life through non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments. For more information on how we can help you, call 248-804-7226 today.