Fall Sports Are Back In Swing… And So Are Sports Injuries

soccer ballThe air is crisp, the leaves are falling, and the sound of cheering crowds and band music floats in the wind. Traditionally, fall sports are played from late August through early December. Unfortunately, fall sports are some of the most dangerous, causing injuries that can end the season in a matter of seconds. Fall sports injuries are either cumulative due to overuse or acute due to trauma. Cumulative injuries develop over time as a result of stress on muscles, joints, and soft tissues. Acute injuries are the result of impact or sudden force. Getting a pre-season physical exam to get a doctor’s clearance for participation is the first step to preventing injury for all fall sports.

Although most any sport can be play any time of the year because of indoor facilities, there are a few that are always associated with autumn. The most popular fall sports are soccer, football, track and field, and cross country. Let’s look at each one…

Soccer
Soccer has been one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. An increase in popularity has meant an increase in soccer-related injuries. Some possible soccer injuries include ankle sprains; Achilles tendonitis; blisters; broken bones; concussions; delayed-onset muscle soreness; hamstring pulls, tears, or strains; heat exhaustion; iliotibial band syndrome; ligament injuries to the knee (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL); muscle cramps; patellofemoral pain syndrome; plantar fasciitis; pulled or strained calf muscles; shin splints; sprains and strains; stress fractures; tendinitis and ruptured tendons; and torn knee cartilage.

The best way to reduce the chance of soccer injuries is to do everything possible to prevent them in the first place. Soccer players should follow the ACL Injury Prevention Program for Soccer Players, warm up properly, wear well-fitting cleats, use properly fitting protective equipment (shin guards), use correctly sized synthetic balls, be aware of field hazards, and use fixed goals whenever possible.

Football
The contact sport of football is well known for the injuries it produces. Amazingly, most of the injuries actually occur during practice rather than during a game. Some possible football injuries include ankle sprains; Achilles tendonitis; blisters; broken bones; concussions; dehydration; delayed-onset muscle soreness; hamstring pulls, tears, or strains; heat exhaustion; iliotibial band syndrome; ligament injuries to the knee (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL); muscle cramps; patellofemoral pain syndrome; plantar fasciitis; pulled or strained calf muscles; shin splints; shoulder dislocations; spinal cord injuries; sprains and strains; stress fractures; tendinitis and ruptured tendons; and torn knee cartilage.

Prevention is the key when it comes to reducing the chance of football injuries. Football players should warm up properly, use properly fitting protective equipment (mouth guard, helmet, pads, braces), and use proper technique when tackling and blocking. In addition, team coaching staffs and officials should have a medical staff with an automated external defibrillator (AED) at games and practices, give immediate attention to and remove from the practice or game any player who exhibits signs of a concussion, and strictly enforce all rules and regulations.

Track and FieldTrack_and_Field
Track and field injuries tend to be due to repetitive use and lack of treatment. They are usually not severe at the onset but become worse over time. Some possible track and field injuries include blisters; chondromalacia(runner’s knee); compartment syndrome; iliotibial band syndrome; microscopic stress fractures; muscle strains; patellar tendinitis; Osgood-Schlatter disease; plantar fasciitis; scrapes and burns from falling; shin splints; sprains; and tibial stress syndrome.
There are various steps that track and field athletes can take to reduce injuries. Track and field athletes should stretch, warm up and cool down properly, wear shoes appropriate for their event(s), and participate in individual event training and conditioning programs that concentrate on strength, endurance, and flexibility. Special attention should be given to the nutritional needs of the endurance athlete.

Cross Country
The highest rate of injury for all school sports is found in cross country running. Teens are especially affected due to the fact that their bodies are still developing. Muscles and joints in the hips, ankles, knees, and feet are where most running injuries occur. Some possible running injuries include ankle sprains; Achilles tendonitis; blisters; delayed-onset muscle soreness; groin pulls; heel spurs; hamstring pulls, tears, or strains; iliotibial band syndrome; muscle cramps; overtraining syndrome; patellofemoral pain syndrome; piriformis syndrome; plantar fasciitis; calf muscle pulls or strains; shin splints; sprains and strains; stress fractures; and tendinitis and ruptured tendons.

Cross country injuries can be reduced by taking preventative measures. All runners from novice to elite should wear the correct shoes, replace footwear when needed, warm up properly, cross train, avoid overtraining, and increase distance, intensity, weight lifted, and duration of exercise no more than ten percent each week.

There is one more important group involved with fall sports… the Cheerleaders. This group of athletes does not always get credit for athleticism. Cheerleaders have to condition and train just as hard as soccer, football, track and field, and cross country athletes do in order to prevent injuries. Their intricate and highly athletic stunts are spectacular. So are the possible injuries. They include broken bones, cuts, head injuries, spinal injuries, sprains, and strains. Practice and performance should be done on cushioned surfaces while using proper technique and proper spotting.

If you or your student athlete has suffered an injury while participating in a fall sport, please schedule an appointment at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches. One of our highly-skilled physicians will be happy to evaluate the injury and prescribe the best course of action to get you back in the game. Contact us today at 904-241-1204 or online at www.joibeaches.com.

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