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Preventing Annual Holiday Football Injuries

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Preventing Annual Holiday Football Injuries

The end-of-year holidays are a great time to get outside and enjoy a game of football with the family, but they’re a horrible time to get injured. Here’s the game plan for staying safe this holiday season, while showing the family you’ve still got it!

Why Preventing Holiday Football Injuries Is Important

Trust me, I completely get it. You want to let loose over the holidays and show off to friends and family that you still have significant athletic skills. But you can’t expect to make cuts like Rams RB Todd Gurley without taking the necessary steps to warm up those cold muscles. Remember, this time of year is about spending time with loved ones, so play it safe because you don’t want to end up in the ER over the holidays. I promise!

The Game Plan for Preventing Holiday Football Injuries

Some of the most common injuries sustained by us recreational athletes playing football or soccer are orthopedic-related, including bone breaks, sprains, and ligament tears. Nasty stuff to be sure. Let’s dive into how to avoid all of those aches, pains, and injuries.

It all starts with proper preparation. If you want to play your best, and avoid unnecessary pain or injury, take time to limber up! With Winter comes colder weather and tighter muscles, so always stretch before and after a game.

Once the game begins, be sure to run parallel to the receiver and don’t backpedal, or you can easily pull a muscle in your leg – yep, you know which one I’m talking about – your hamstring (or hammy).

This goes without saying, but you should not play tackle football without proper equipment. So resist the urge to return to your glory days and opt for playing two-hand touch or flag football. One thing you shouldn’t do when playing football in the yard is to grab onto another player/friend/family member’s clothes when grabbing for a flag. Many finger tendons get pulled from the force of the other person running away, and a pulled finger tendon hurts way more than it sounds like it should.

Unless you are in excellent shape and have had plenty of practice, don’t overthrow. As it turns out, our self-proclaimed “cannon” for an arm that we are so desperately trying to mimic the pros on TV, can result in a painful shoulder injury that’ll have you wincing while trying to carve your holiday turkey.

Drink While Watching the Game, Not Playing it

While drinking heavily just before playing a game of football in the yard might sound like a good idea, it isn’t, especially if you want to play at your best. You’ll perform better, smarter, harder, and safer without booze in your system. To put it in medical terms, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol inhibits your ability to play by dehydrating the body, making muscles less elastic and more susceptible to damage.

Stick with good old-fashion water for proper hydration.

Play Through the Pain? Not in This Game

Playing through pain isn’t an excellent way to win, but it’s a great way to punch your ticket to the ER. The more you push your body to keep going once it is injured, the worse you make the problem, whatever the problem is.

If you or anyone in the game exhibits signs of frostbite or hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately with no exceptions. Remember, getting injured over the holidays is going to bum you out a lot more than losing a game in the yard.

Don’t Forget Your Armor

Although it might seem like the macho thing to do, playing football outside in the cold without warm clothing and protective gear is just a bad idea all around. Not only will you be more likely to be injured, but also less likely to perform your best in the game. Wearing gloves, extra padding, and even a mouthpiece when playing football outside in the Fall/Winter is an advantage, not a disadvantage, so don’t worry about looking over prepared.

Also, be sure to wear appropriate footwear like cross-training athletic shoes or cleats. Wearing flat-soled shoes on the wet or lightly snow-covered lawn is a recipe for falling, the result of which could be a break, sprain, or tear, not to mention total embarrassment. After all, we are still in our prime…right?

Last but Not Least, Have Fun, Seriously

Now that you know how to enjoy a game of football over the holidays safely, there’s one more thing for you to keep in mind. Have fun with it! Just because you’re making an effort to play the game safely, this shouldn’t make it any less fun. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with sports, especially over the holidays.


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