Preventing Common football Injuries

How can we prevent common football injuries?

We are pleased to reprint this article authored by Mitch Hauschildt for Webexercises.

How can we prevent common football injuries?

with Mitch Hauschildt, MA, ATC, CSCS

This month we are excited to feature Mitch Hauschildt in our blog to get some ideas on why and how we can help players preventing common football injuries.

Mitch Hauschildt, MA, ATC, CSCS serves as the Prevention, Rehab, and Physical Performance Coordinator for 16 sports at Missouri State University. Mitch is also the founder and president of Maximum Training Solutions, a full service Sports Medicine and Sports Performance consultancy.  Mitch is a noted speaker on both a regional and national level, and has been published multiple times in professional journals and coaching websites.

WebExercises: What are the major sports injuries football players seeking your help for?

Mitch Hauschildt:Because of the brutal nature of football, I see a lot of injuries, ranging from turf toe to hand fractures and everything in between. The injuries that we tend to see the most are ankle injuries, knee pain (both chronic pain and acute ligament injuries), and shoulder issues. Low back pain and hamstring strains also tend to be fairly common with football players and rates of those tends to vary quite a bit by the position that is played. There are several factors that make preventing football injuries challenging. Contact injuries just can’t be prevented no matter how hard we try. If someone falls into a lineman’s leg, they will injure something. There are also a lot of different positions, each with their own demands and body styles which means that prevention programs have to rather individualized in order to be effective. But, with sound training principles and persistence, we can make a dent in football injury rates.

WebExercises: What are your go-to exercises to prevent ankle injuries?

Mitch Hauschildt: When I look a preventing both contact and non contact injuries, the first place I start is with ankle mobility. Many football players struggle with ankle dorsiflexion, which forces them to translate forces other places which causes ankle issues. Once mobility is cleared, I look to improve the posterior chain function because it assists with deceleration. Lastly, I like to integrate single leg exercises that force the proprioceptors to kick in to support the ankle.

WebExercises: Are they taping strategies to prevent knee injuries?

Mitch Hauschildt: When I think about knee injuries, I always look above and below the knee joint. The knee simply does what the foot and hip tell it to do. So I like to tape the foot and hip to improve knee function and ultimately reduce pain. This includes postural taping for the arch of the foot to support it neurologically as well as a variation of tweak taping at the hip. Tweak taping involves dragging the skin in a specific direction while laying the tape down in order to feed the brain with specific stimulus to achieve a desired outcome. What I find is that if we can drag the skin into external rotation at the upper thigh and hip and tape lay the tape down over the top, we can control the knee at the hip very well.

WebExercises: What are your favorite movement prep strategies to prevent shoulder injuries?

Mitch Hauschildt:Shoulder injuries in football are tricky because they usually involve a high speed collision. What I find works best to prevent these injuries is to do everything possible in order to ensure the shoulder is functioning optimally. In theory, this will allow those forces to be distributed throughout the rest of the body on impact. Many football players have poor thoracic spine mobility so I like to include thoracic spine rotation and extension movements within their movement prep routine. I also like to include scapular stability movements which set the table for complex movements with a firm foundation for the shoulder to work from.

WebExercises: Do you prescribe exercises patients can do at home? How important is that to achieve your desired outcomes?

Mitch Hauschildt:I utilize home exercises more and more all of the time with my patients. The reality is that everyone has a lot of demands ands time constraints placed on them, so I only have so much time to work with them in my facility. Utilizing even a few simple home exercises helps my patients maintain their improvements from session to session and ultimately pour gasoline on my regular sessions. It makes my clinic time a lot more effective.

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