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How to Prevent Football Injuries

Weightlifting

Football is a tough sport in every aspect. It takes strength, resilience, and endurance just to step foot on the field. Due to the nature of the sport, athletes get injured more often than we would like to see. Though you can't eliminate all chances of injury when playing a sport that involves making or receiving tackles, you can make sure your athlete is following proper weight lifting form. When it comes to workouts, you can complete them all day long, but if you aren't working out correctly, you could be wasting your time or even opening yourself up to a higher chance of injury. 

Lifting Weights in High School 

There are two reasons to lift weights in high school:
  1. To get stronger than the competition
  2. To avoid injury 

Too often, I have high school football players come into the office with weightlifting injuries. At a high level, most of them can be avoided by committing to:

  • Basic movement screening
  • Well-thought-out progressions
  • Football-specific movements
  • Proper care and maintenance

Take note that players should be able to lift heavy during the season. If they have to dial back workouts during the season, it's because they're not utilizing the correct exercises or they're not completing them properly. 

Movement Screenings

These are also referred to as a Functional Movement Screen. This is essentially when someone analyzes movement patterns, mobility, and stability deficits so that they can identify limitations or asymmetries that could cause injury in the future. For more information on this, you should ask a healthcare professional or a coach to make sure your athlete can take the best next steps towards having their weightlifting habits analyzed. It's important that every athlete makes sure their movement and extremities are symmetrical. Some movements that I have patients perform include:

  • Shoulder internal/external rotation
  • Scapular motion during overhead press
  • Scapular motion during a push-up
  • Hip internal/external rotation
  • Hip extension
  • Functional Squat
  • Walking lunge
  • Reverse lunge
  • Standing vertical
  • Seated T spine rotation

Every single one of these movements should be completed without any pain and each side should be symmetrical. If imbalances or pain occurs, the athlete should see a professional or update their movements to fix the deficit. 

Weightlifting Best Practices 

Even if an athlete has been lifting for a long time, this doesn't mean that they have graduated to more advanced lifting exercises. They should only get to perform those exercises if they have mastered their other movements. Some best practices include: 

  • Build up to compound lifts
  • Stabilize joints before lifting heavy
  • Always have new lifts supervised
  • Write down current strength and personalized goals

How to Develop a Football Player Workout 

The first step is to make sure there is a mix of proper weight training with explosive bodyweight work. Plyometric days should be stable in an effective football program because strength does not always equal power and explosion. The most important part of plyometric exercises is completing them properly. Even if an athlete is sweating or breathing heavy, it doesn't necessarily mean they are becoming more explosive. Ensure that every rep is cemented in hip stability, which ultimately minimizes valgus knee forces. Valgus knee angles are never okay and will ultimately lead to injury – just ask Robert Griffin III. Because of valgus knee angles, he has had four lower-body injuries in his career!

What Next 

We want all of our patients to stay as healthy as possible, but football players must take extra steps to prevent injuries. If you or someone you love is an athlete, they can benefit greatly from regular chiropractic appointments. Click below to schedule an appointment. 

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