Over the past year, a lot of attention has been placed on the importance of long-lasting and potentially catastrophic conditions related to heat illness, concussion, and sudden cardiac death. Football season is just around the corner, and while great strides are being made to educate the masses of these serious issues, it is important not to forget about some of the other common injuries associated with the sport of football.
Football is a collision sport whereby injuries are bound to happen. The majority of serious injuries are related to some form of contact, yet other musculoskeletal injuries that have a significant impact can also occur from non-contact type movements.
One of the most commonly seen injuries occurs to the anterior cruciate ligament, often referred to as the ACL. This ligament is responsible for rotational and translational movements within the main joint of the knee. Thus, a tearing of this structure leads to the inability of a player to run, cut, pivot, and accomplish other weight bearing maneuvers without difficulty. Existing research has focused on many areas that may contribute to the tearing of the ACL in a non-contact manner. Some of the identified causes include higher frictional ground surfaces, such as turn versus grass. Wood courts are also high on the list, as athletes who play volleyball and basketball appear to be more susceptible to the injury as compared to many other sports,
One of the most prevalent risk factors appears to be altered hip and knee postural alignment associated with poor muscular and proprioceptive control. Individuals with wider hips and a greater “knocked-knee” alignment at the knee tend to place greater amounts of stress on the ACL during the landing phase of activity. Likewise, individuals who do not possess good neuromuscular control of the muscle surrounding the hip and knee, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, are also at greater risk. It is not uncommon to identify individuals participating in competitive or recreational sports with the combination of such body mechanics. Couple this with playing a high risk sport, and one becomes increasingly predisposed to tearing the ACL.
Despite the fact that these injuries are not 100% preventable, research does show promising results in significantly reducing the risk of ACL tears, particularly in female athletes. Sport Safety International encourages you to learn and actively participate in one of the many ACL Injury Prevention Programs that exist internationally.