Healthwatch: Football About Fitting In

Some parents cringe when they see football players bumping and tackling each other. Injuries are a concern for everyone, especially for young people involved in a very physical sport.

But there are ways to help prevent injuries on the football field, according to the Rush Sports Medicine Team.

Certified athletic trainer Clay Wall visited Quitman High School's football practice to demonstrate what is necessary to have a football player properly-fitted from head to toe. The helmet may be the most important.

"A new rule this year, all players have to have a four-point chin strap," said Wall. "And all four have to be buckled at all times on the field, so after you verify that everything fits, you want to unbuckle the chin strap, just wiggle the helmet a little bit."

Wall says it should fit snugly and the chin strap should be centered. One Quitman player suffered an injury to his ear this month, because of an ill-fitting helmet.

Wall says even the fit of a mouth guard is important. It should go back all the way to the last molars.

"And there's some evidence that a properly-fitted mouth guard can actually prevent concussions," Wall said.

Hip and thigh pads primarily help prevent deep bruises, but the pads may need adjustment during practice and games.

Shoes should never be hand-me-downs, because they mold to the foot and each person's is unique.

"Your shoes should be wide enough, have enough room in the toe box and have about a thumb-width room between the longest toe and the end of the shoe to fit properly," said Wall.

A shoulder measurement should be done first to get the right fit for shoulder pads.

When dealing with injuries on the field, Wall says don't remove the helmet or pads. They work to stabilize the body while the injury is evaluated.

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