Common Types of Football Injuries

Teammate helps injured football player check hurt ankle
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Football injuries are common, even with the use of the right protective gear, and range from minor annoying aches and pains to serious, traumatic injuries. There are a variety of overuse injuries in football that you may see in any sport that includes running. But football players are constantly exposed to being tackled, falling, and making sudden changes in running direction,.increasing the risk of acute injuries.

The Most Commonly Seen Football Injuries

The following are some of the most frequently endured injuries related to football.

Head, Neck, and Shoulder Injuries

  • Concussion: This trauma to the brain is common in football and the source of increasing concern for its long-term effects. It can happen with even mild blows to the head.
  • Shoulder Fracture (Fractured Clavicle): This injury can happen in a blow or a fall.
  • Torn Rotator Cuff: This injury can happen in a fall or with overuse, such as in throwing the football.
  • Shoulder Separation: This may happen with a blow to the front of the shoulder or when trying to arrest a fall with your outstretched hand.
  • Shoulder Dislocation: This also can happen with a fall or blow.
  • Whiplash: This is a hyperextension of the neck, which can occur with a tackle.
  • Neck Strain: This is also caused by hyperextension of the neck, especially during a blow.
  • Burner or Stinger of the Neck: These sharp neck pains come from compressed nerves and may happen with a blow from the side.

Hand Injuries

  • Wrist Sprains: These can happen when you try to catch yourself when falling.
  • Finger Fractures: These are typically caused by blows or falls.
  • Wrist Tendinitis: This is an overuse syndrome.

Knee and Leg Injuries

  • Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL/PCL) Injuries: These ligaments stabilize the knee. Injuries happen when making a sudden turn when running or when the knee takes a direct blow.
  • Injuries to the Meniscus: This is cartilage in your knee. It can be injured when changing directions while running and when receiving a blow.
  • Groin Pull: This is a strain of the adductors in your inner thigh, often happening with a sudden change in direction when running.
  • Hamstring Pull, Tear, or Strain: The hamstrings are at the back of your thigh. Hamstring pulls commonly occur while running.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome: This is an overuse injury causing pain from the hip to the shin.
  • Pulled or Strained Calf Muscle: This is another injury common with sudden acceleration or change in direction when running.
  • Shin Splints: This pain in the shins is often due to lack of conditioning.
  • Hip Pointer: This is an injury to the hip, often caused by a blow.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

  • Ankle Sprains: The most common of all ankle injuries, an ankle sprain occurs when there is a stretching and tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle joint.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis is a chronic injury that occurs primarily from overuse and it felt as pain in the back of the ankle. If this is ignored it may increase your risk of Achilles tendon rupture.
  • Blisters: Blisters are fluid-filled sacs on the surface of the skin that commonly occur on the hands or the feet due to friction.
  • Turf Toe: This is an injury to the base of the big toe. It can happen when you make a step that jams your toe into the ground or bends it backward.

Back Injuries

  • Low Back Pain: This may be caused by muscle strains or by trauma.
  • Herniated Disks: This can occur in a fall or be due to repetitive strain.

Other Common Football Injuries and Side Effects

  • Sprains and Strains: Sprains and strains are the most common type of football injury. The best immediate treatment for sprains and strains is the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).
  • Muscle Cramps: A cramp is a sudden, intense pain caused by a muscle involuntary and forcibly contracting muscle that does not relax. Similar to, but not the same as a side stitch.
  • Delayed-Onset Muscle SorenessThis is some muscle soreness may be felt from 12 to 48 hours following the activity.
  • Overtraining SyndromeOvertraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body's ability to recover.
  • Overheating: This is especially a risk at training camp and during long training sessions.
3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Seattle Children’s Research Institute and UW Medicine’s Sports Health and Safety Institute, "New Findings on Concussion in Football's Youngest Players." Dec. 13, 2018

  2. Encyclopedia Britannica, "Turf toe (medical condition)"

  3. Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, "Overtraining Syndrome/Burnout"

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.