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
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.