The most common American Football injuries


The rules and organisation of American Football gameplay make for a very tough physical game where players display explosive power, strength, speed, agility and coordination in very intense bursts. Despite wearing protective equipment in an attempt to lessen trauma from impact, including pads on hips, thighs, knees, sacrum, shoulders and a helmet with mouthguard, the intensity and physicality of the sport can lead to injuries.

The most common injuries are either sustained through twisting actions with over 50% of injuries in the NFL in 2022 occurring at either the knee or ankle, or sprinting resulting in hamstring strains.

In the same year approximately 15% of injuries were due to fracture, 10% due to dislocation and less than 5% due to concussions. With the large variety of positions there also role specific injuries, for example elbow and shoulder injuries that are more common with quarterbacks that are less likely to happen with a lineman.

Between 2009-2022 in the NFL the average number of players per team that were injured ranged from 8.51-17.13 per week. With wide receiver’s and cornerbacks taking the highest share of injuries.

In the past 15 years there have been a lot of studies looking into the role of strength and conditioning in order to improve the resilience of the soft tissues and to prepare the body for high impact and physical stress and have found good results in terms of decreasing non traumatic and traumatic injuries. This is why there has been a huge surge in investment in strength and conditioning in recent years in most sports but especially in American football in order to try and reduce injuries and improve performance. 1 college in Tennessee even signed a S&C coach from the NFL for $650,000 a year in order to progress players and protect their health and fitness.

Ric Lockhart

MSK Physio Team Lead & Senior Physiotherapist

Ric qualified from Sheffield Hallam University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Physiotherapy in 2009.

Ric Lockhart

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