Sports Injuries Related to Football

Nov 25, 2020

According to the National Institute of Health, of the 1.5 million young men who participate in American football, 1.2 million football-related injuries occur each year.

If you have ever played a sport in your life, there is a high chance that you have had a sports injury. While all sports each have a risk of getting an injury, football presents the highest risk of injury.

According to Johns Hopkins, almost 215,000 children ages five to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries. 

There are multiple injuries an athlete can get from playing football. Some of the most common injuries range from very minor to very severe.

Most Common Football Injuries

  • Traumatic Injuries: Some of these injuries include knee injuries, especially the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) and to the menisci (cartilage of the knee).
  • Concussions: This injury can be very serious and one of the most common among football players. Signs of a concussion include headache, dizziness, loss of balance, blurry vision, nausea and more.
  • Sprains: Strains can include a pulled or torn muscle, most often occurring in the hamstrings or quadriceps, ankle strains and back strains.
  • Overuse injuries: When a player trains beyond what their body has the ability to recover it is called overuse syndrome. The most common injury of overuse is patellar tendonitis, which is knee pain.
  • Heat injuries: This type of injury occurs when a player is doing intense physical activities with long outdoor training during summertime. Sweating releases salt and water, and if not treated with cooling and fluids there could be a chance of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

These injuries can typically be recovered through different types of medical attention and treatments available, such as physical therapy and programs.

Football consists of full-on contact with high speeds and aggressive force. With the forceful body-to-body contact, injury is bound to happen one way or another at some point in a football players’ time, regardless of protective equipment, such as helmets and shoulder pads.

Prevention of Football Injuries

Prevention from these types of injuries can help a football player stay more safe while playing the game and create less harm toward other players.

    • Hydrate: Do this to maintain health and minimize cramps while playing. Even the slightest bit of dehydration can prevent an athlete and their performance.
      • Drink 24 ounces non-caffeinated fluids two hours before exercising.
      • Drink eight ounces of water or drinks with electrolytes before exercise.
      • Take 20 minute breaks and eight ounces of water.
    • Warm-up and cool down properly.
    • Do not lead with the helmet, instead tackle with your head up.
    • Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation.
    • Make sure to stretch before and after playing football.
    • Speak with a trainer and professional if you have concerns or for more useful strategies.

“A study on preventing adolescent sport injuries, based on a review of 154 clinical papers, concluded that preseason conditioning and education are vital in preventing injuries in youth athletes,” according to the STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) Sports Injuries.

STOP Sports Injuries was created by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) in early 2007, where it came to the conclusion that the number of overuse injuries in sports targeting young athletes was becoming excessive. STOP focuses on sports safety and educating athletes on how to fulfill this goal, as well as how to play safely.


As a coach, one of the main priorities you will have is keeping your players safe and from not getting injured. While a coach is encouraged to teach proper exercise, teamwork and discipline, teaching athletes to play football safely is also encouraged.

  • Encourage preseason physical examinations every year
  • Increase training gradually: You don’t want to throw an athlete into a task they aren’t ready for. Gradually introduce them to the next level when they are ready.
  • Make sure the athlete has breaks and takes a rest
  • Have the athlete drink plenty of water

What if an athlete does have in injury?

If an athlete is experiencing pain or other symptoms, this may be a result or a sign of injury. In this matter the athlete should:

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Notify the football coach and parents or guardian
  • Make sure the injury is fully treated before playing again
  • When an athlete has an injury and they continue to play football or any other sport on that injury, this easily makes it worse and slows the healing down.

How do I know if my athlete is injured?

Many athletes may try to tough out an injury by pretending they don’t have it or they aren’t hurting as much to keep playing football. If this is the case with your athlete, caregivers should watch for signs, such as:

  • Appearing to be in pain when using a specific body part
  • Avoiding putting weight on a specific body part
  • Experiencing weakness
  • Irritated skin and/or blisters
  • Appearing to have stiffness in the joints or muscles

Though no football player wants their season cut short due to an injury, it may be the best option so their injury does not get worse or it doesn’t cause problems in the future to their body. Speaking to a physician or a certified athletic trainer for the best option and treatment for the injury is the best way to go.


If you play a sport, it’s common you will get a sports injury at least once in your career. We want you to have a long-standing athletic career, and with the risk of injury, this can decrease an athletic career depending on the severity of the injury.

Learn more about sports injuries by downloading our Guidebook to Sports Injuries below.

Read our guide to sports medicine.

At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, we want to prevent you from getting any sports injuries. Our goal is to get patients back to doing the activities they love by being safe.

If you are suffering from a sports injury, click below to schedule an appointment, or call us at 304-599-0720.

Categories: Football