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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pumping Iron Greatly Reduces Severe Football Injuries


Lifting weights may be the key to preventing severe injuries to football players, according to a three-year study of high school athletes in Florida.

The study found 78% of severe injuries to the upper body, especially shoulder separations, occurred among football players not involved in a strength-training program of controlled weight lifting. In addition, 64% of those with severe injuries to the lower body, including knee injuries, also were athletes not involved in the training program.

"These are very significant numbers," said Dr. MaryBeth Horodyski, assistant professor of exercise and sports sciences at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. "The bottom line is, those kids who did strength training typically did not have as severe injuries. They more often had mild or moderate injuries."

The study involving teams at 13 high schools turned up 887 injuries among football players. Mild injuries were defined as those which kept players out of practice or a game for seven days or less. Downtime for moderate injuries was 7 to 21 days, and severe injuries included those that kept players out of action for more than 21 days.

Roughly one third of the players in the study sustained injuries. However, Horodyski said that she and the team of athletic trainers and doctors assigned to the study were not surprised by that figure. According to national statistics, some type of injuries occur in 25% to 50% of athletes playing football during a given year, she points out.

The Florida study found defensive linemen are the most frequently injured players, and the most common type of injury for all positions is a sprain.

Fewer injuries were recorded during spring football, probably because it is less intense than fall play, the researcher said.

"The take-home message for coaches is, they need to implement a well-structured strength-training program for their players throughout the entire season," Horodyski stated. "It won't cut down on the total number of injuries, but time-loss goes down drastically if the injuries are not severe."

Source: Stroke (1997;28:1908-1912)

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