Football Injury Statistics and Discussion

It has been a while since we looked into where what part of the body is hurt the most by injuries when discussing football at the professional level.

We intend to go into a separate discussion of youth football. Professional football is where we have the most carefully tracked data.

So, let’s look at the wonderful infographic that The Wall Street Journal pulled together after a previous season.

What this shows us is where do injuries really happen. Now, if you listen to sportscasters, newscasters, or just office/bar sports discussions you would think that concussions are the most common injury on the field.

It may be the most under-reported making these numbers wonky, but let’s assume they are accurate for this discussion.

The knee is the most common issue. Why don’t we hear more about it? Well, doctors are really good at fixing it. People can blow one out and be back on the field in the same season. Head injuries are lot more scary, that’s for certain, but knees are more commonly dinged up.

As a result of this new information, in a future article, we will be looking into knee safety gear concepts, and recovery efforts for after the injury. We will even be looking into technique and training that can be done to limit these injuries. Stay tuned, that will show up here in the coming days. For now, the important take away is that the knee is the most common injury. That is quickly followed by ankle, upper leg, and shoulder.

Wait? Shoulder? Don’t players wear shoulder pads? Aren’t those shoulder pads the best thing in the world?

Shoulder pads do help, but in some cases players use them as a weapon. Ever seen someone lower a shoulder into a tackle? Might there be a technique that limits this? That is another topic for the future, and we will do something in depth there as well.

Concussions….Now, let’s discuss concussions. Is football the worst sport on the planet when it comes to these? Does it deserve the demonization that is happening?

Concussions happen as the brain sloshes around inside the skull. That’s right, it isn’t connected to your skull it floats in a fluid. We previously wrote in detail on this topic. 

These are becoming more common in football because athletes are getting bigger and faster. What does that have to do with it?

Well, the energy in the collision of two players is the reason behind that injury. Energy is calculated by the mass of the two objects, and the velocity they hit each other squared. So its mass times velocity times velocity again. The faster people are moving when they collide the more energetic. As speeds go up in sports, injuries will follow. It is simple physics.

How can we be certain it is all about physics?

You would think only the football players are impacted by injuries? Let’s look at cheerleaders. 

These young ladies do some aerobatics on the sideline for our entertainment. On occasion they team up to throw one of the cheerleaders up in the air. The velocity that woman comes back down to earth is faster than anything seen on the football field. In recent years the tosses have gotten higher. Well, cheerleader injuries, including skull fractures, are up by a factor of 4 since 1980.

Now, if it seems like we haven’t come to a conclusion in this article you are right. There are no good answers here. But, what we have done is reminded you, gentle reader, that there are more injuries going on than get the primary attention these days. Some we can fix, and that will be a topic on our website in coming days. Some, well, some may require some rule changes at least, along with some technique differences, and yes…perhaps even some new safety equipment. Stay tuned, we are going to be doing a deep dive here.

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