It’s no secret that football is a dangerous sport. There’s a reason why the average NFL player’s career is shorter than athletes’ careers in the NBA, NHL, or MLB. Certain areas of NFL players’ bodies are more prone to injury. Here are the most common injuries in the NFL.
The NFL releases an annual summary of the previous season’s injuries. Knee injuries have topped the list every year since 2000. This area of the body has a lot of moving parts. The knees parts that are most commonly affected are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
NFL players dread hearing the words “torn ACL” because it’s a season-ending injury. One example is Texans RB Lamar Miller, who will miss the entire 2019-20 season after tearing his ACL. Receivers and running backs can tear or strain the ACL by abruptly changing directions while running or by landing too harshly on a leg.
2. Foot and ankle
Foot and ankle injuries are increasingly common in the NFL. While it may be hard to believe, improvements in shoes and cleats could be one culprit for the rise in injuries to these areas.
While improved footwear can help a player’s performance, the shoes are lighter and less stable than the footwear players wore decades ago. Players are also bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before. This means their feet and ankles have higher levels of traction and friction, which puts extra force on those body parts.
This injury has grabbed headlines recently due to the effects concussions can have on a player’s quality of life. As the third most common NFL injury, concussions are still prevalent despite better protective gear and improved concussion protocol. When a person experiences brain trauma, it takes a long time to recover. This is why a player who has a concussion often misses many games before returning.
More importantly, brain trauma can affect other systems and processes in the body long-term. Football players are susceptible to concussions because the head can take a nasty blow when a player hits the ground or an opponent’s helmet.
Quarterbacks are most susceptible to shoulder injuries. The repeated throwing motion can cause a QB to suffer from rotator cuff tendonitis or biceps tendonitis. All players on the field can experience a shoulder injury due to direct contact via a tackle or the ground (like a receiver landing hard on his shoulder after making a catch). These scenarios can lead to shoulder dislocation or an acromioclavicular joint sprain or dislocation.
5. Upper leg
Upper leg injuries are also common among NFL players. Among them, a hamstring injury is the one that most often affects players. If a player is not properly warmed up, he’s susceptible to tearing a hamstring if he tries to push his legs to run as fast as possible. Other common injuries to the upper leg affect the thigh and quadriceps. Depending on the severity, an upper leg injury can take six to eight weeks to heal, causing a player to miss up to half of an NFL season.