Lacrosse is a sport that can cause injuries related to both the high level of contact, in addition to non-contact. Often played by children and high school athletes, as well as professionals, lacrosse provides a work out for the entire body, particularly the lower extremity as players are constantly running throughout the game.
Lacrosse players are typically prone to injuries that affect the lower extremity. This includes the ankle, knee, legs and hips. The most common lacrosse injuries affect the hamstring and quadriceps muscle groups. Muscle sprains and strains are common injuries, in addition to ligament injuries and skin conditions like abrasions. Ankle injuries account for 21% of female and 16% of male lacrosse-related conditions. Knee injuries, including ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) damage are the leading cause of lost practice and game time for lacrosse players.
- Non-contact injuries, which lead to ankle and knee sprains along with ACL injuries to the knee.
- Improper equipment, including protective gear like helmets or goggles
- Players who do not follow the rules
- Poor conditioning
- Inadequate warm-up prior to practice or a game
There are intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for injury. Intrinsic factors are a child’s individual musculoskeletal issues, which can include skeletal immaturity (bones and joints that are still developing) or muscle weakness. Extrinsic factors are the environment in which an athlete performs, which can include the level of competition: how much, how hard and how long play lasts.
Other common risk factors for lacrosse injuries include:
- High contact, which is of a greater level in boys’ lacrosse than girls’ lacrosse
- Players who do not abide by the rules of the game
- Concussions caused by body-to-body or body-to-ground contract in boys’ games
- Injuries caused by an inadvertent stick or ball to the head (often during girls games)
- Altering equipment
Proper instruction and supervision is a critical component to reducing lacrosse injuries for both boys and girls at all levels. Having the proper equipment and using it correctly can drastically cut down on the number of injuries in both practice and actual game settings.
Other ways to avoid injury include:
- Boys and girls lacrosse differs in the level of contact allowed and the equipment worn, therefore sports related injuries vary.
- Girls’ equipment includes protective goggles and mouthpieces, while soft headgear and lightweight gloves are optional.
- Boys’ equipment includes the mandatory use of helmets with full-face guards, shoulder pads, padded gloves, and mouthpieces. Elbow pads and protective genital cups are suggested.
- Following the rules of the game that stress finesse and skill over unprotected hits in the boys’ game and allowing free style play in the girls’ game.
- Consulting a sports health professional such as a sports physical therapist for the establishment and implementation of a conditioning program.
- Institution of a warm-up program that can include exercises to decrease the incidence of non-contact injuries.
- An emergency plan should be in place to care for sports related injuries.
Did you know that Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States?
Did you know that Lacrosse is the oldest team sport in the United States? It was first played by Native Americans?
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries
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