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Football Pre-Season Prep and Preventing Injuries Q&A with Dr. David Gazzaniga

07-26-2019

With professional, collegiate and high school football season on the horizon and many teams getting ready for their summer training camps, Dr. David Gazzaniga, Hoag Orthopedic Institute affiliated orthopedic surgeon and one of the team physicians with the Los Angeles Chargers, gave some insight into what types of preparations young football athletes should be preparing for to avoid injury.

Q: Heading into football pre-season, what can young athletes do to prep for their season ahead?

Dr. Gazzaniga: Athletes need to prep as early as possible, even before the pre-season, or even year-round. Soft-tissue injuries such as muscle strains are some of the most common injuries we see, and some of those soft-tissue injuries are tied to hydration. Staying hydrated with fluid such as water – not soda or sports drinks – is of paramount importance for athletes, and not just during their sport. After training and on off days, athletes should be staying hydrated properly to help prevent injuries and improve performance.

Q: What are some stretches or exercises that football athletes should consider in order to stay as strong as possible and avoid injury?

Dr. Gazzaniga: Flexibility and specifically core strength are of particular importance, and often neglected in young athletes. Doing ab and lower back exercises are somewhat neglected, and particularly for lineman in football, having that extra core strength can really help them perform.

Q: What are some of the most common injuries that football players experience?

Dr. Gazzaniga: The biggest concern for football players typically involve ankle injuries and knee sprains such as ACL tears. There is some evidence to show that when athletes prophylactically wear laced-up ankle braces or have their ankles taped, it decreases severity of potential issues in the ankle. Knee injuries typically result from bad luck or because a players’ foot is stuck in the ground too long. Football by nature is an explosive sport. Players should work on exercises that improve their foot work and speed and do some balance exercises to help avoid injury.