Tips For Football Players On Enjoying The Game And Avoiding The Injury List.
As a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, I get the opportunity to be influential in many young athletes’ lives. Unfortunately, those that I typically have access to are already injured. Hopefully in this forum, I have a platform to get my orthopaedic insights to you without seeing you for a broken bone or torn ACL.
You may think football is the most important thing in your life. For many of you, right now, it is. You are willing to give hours of your day and sustain regular physical abuse to play a game. That takes commitment I applaud you for.
Now let me tell you, that for many of you, your football days are nearing an end. In reality, the number of high school athletes playing football beyond graduation is quite low. So take full advantage of your time in this game. I implore you to stop and think about what else football is giving you “” camaraderie, teamwork and leadership skills, physical fitness, commitment, concentration and desire. You learn how to deal with success and how to deal with failure. These are all life skills that will take you well beyond the spectacle of a Friday night game.
When you begin to think about football like this, your recognition of how it fits into your life changes. Please appreciate that your time is worth far more than just the result when the clock strikes 0:00.
Therefore, I want you all to participate to your fullest “” hopefully on the field if you are healthy, and even more so if you are on the sideline due to injury. Consider what you, in whatever capacity you can offer, are able to provide to further the goals of your team, then do that to your maximal potential.
Obviously, if you are injured it is harder to contribute. So do your best to stay healthy. Here are some things I recommend to keep you playing and safe:
>> Eat healthy and get enough sleep “” If you sleep well, you make better decisions, you have better balance, and you recover better from a hard workout or injury.
>> Keep your head up and on a swivel “” Know where the injury could be coming from.
>> Be the best conditioned and have a strong core to prevent fatigue-related injury “” Fatigue is the #1 predictor of injury. Therefore avoid it with conditioning.
>> Be mentally prepared so you put yourself in the right position at the right time “” Again, know where to be so you’re not in a bad place putting yourself at risk.
Most of these are not things that occur on the field, but rather before you even start the game. Running extra in the off-season, spending time watching film and knowing your playbook prepares you to stay healthy during the season.
Now you may ask yourself why you should listen to me, or at least I hope you’ve read this far to even have me tell you. I came from a large high school in Wisconsin where I was captain my senior year and continued on to play Div. III collegiate football at the University of Chicago. That provided my history to know what you’re going through on the gridiron. After college, I then went to medical school, orthopaedic surgery residency and pediatric orthopaedic fellowship to understand your musculoskeletal health.
I could continue to preach. However, I value your independent thought and understanding of your own life. So I leave you with this “” enjoy the game that you are playing. It will take you farther than you can imagine if you let it.
Dr. Jagodzinski is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who sees patients at the Sports Medicine Center For Young Athletes in Walnut Creek.