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Football and whiplash

MazyMMazy Posts: 272
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Water Cooler
I wasn't sure where to post this question, and it's not really about surgery or pain. Here goes --how do football players get tackled all the time and not get serious neck or back injury? It would seem to be that they would have their spines and disks knocked out all over the place! My husband says it's their training. Doesn't it seem like they would have whiplash all the time?? I know this is a dumb
thing to be thinking about this morning--it just
popped into my head! --Mazy


  • I have played soccer all my life and head the ball. Hell, I still do sometimes after have an acdf at C5-C6 2.5 years ago.


    It really takes a lot to blow a disc, especially for athletes with protective muscles that bear the load and circulate blood and fluid efficiently. In fact, working out is what made me come back from my surgery. It seems counter-intuitive, but strengthening is better in the long run for discs, as less stress is put on them.

    From what I gather, discs wear out mostly because of a really catastrophic blow...or wear and tear accelerated by not being fit, letting discs bear load without reinforcing muscle.

    Don't get me wrong, as football players can suffer long term health issues when they play through pain and with injuries. There is a famous article about Joe Montana and the 49ers of his Super Bowl years and how many have serious health issues.

    Joe Montana had a X fusion in his lower spine during his playing days. He had a 2 level cervical fusion several years ago. Food for thought.


    Cheers, Mate
  • Interesting article! I read today where Montana's son is competing against Wayne Gretzy's son for a high school starting QB position! Thanks for your response and all the info.--Mazy
  • My son is in his fourth year of playing Pop Warner football and I know its not the same as college or pro but a huge amount of time at practices is spent on the proper techniques of tackling and how to take a hit so they don't get hurt. Also there are pads that can help protect their necks. Spinal injuries can happen in the sport but given the number of players from ages 5 to 40 that play football, the chances of that kind of injury are so small. They are so much more likely to break a bone or get a head injury. That's what I worry about all the time.
  • My never-ending curiosity as to how I got so many cervical problems is what fueled my question. I guess the only other sport I could think of where the body would get so beat up would be boxing or maybe wrestling? Of course, I didn't think of soccer until Mate mentioned it. Golf might be stressful on the spine, too. ---Mazy
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    I think that football can be and has been one of the worst enemies of the spine. There are way too many collisions that are coming at each other full speed and the collision generates a massive impact.

    Its one of the reasons why Hockey players normally dont see the same type of injuries yet their sport can be violent. Many times in hockey the hits are made NOT when two people are colliding at each other, but instead at blows that take the receiver off in a different direction. When there are those head to head collisions, many times there are problems.

    Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball and even Baseball can have their share of spinal injuries. Rugy, well, I wont even go there because I really dont know enough to say anything.

    But I know my lumbar and cervical problems were direct results of my foot ball days. Too many jarring head to head impacts with two bodies flying at each other met head on, the force is strong. Much of what I saw and what I received was based on improper training, improper equipment and improper coaching. Well all things are right, it can be a safe sport.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Now I'm scared!! I know when I watch my sons football practices and they do an unsafe tackle they have to do 20 push ups. He has a great coach who belives in safety first and winning second. They are taught the proper technics. But during games it is hard to predict how a play is going to be executed and how opposing players are going to tackle. Not to brag, but my son had the most tackels last year and no team was able to score why he was on the field. On offense he is the fastest runner and scored many points for his team. He also plays on the offensive line. He's only 10 and will turn 11 in Sept. Should I be worried about his future spine health? His football season only lasts 10 weeks but as he gets older it will last longer. He absolutely LOVES to play. Oh crap! Just one more thing to worry about!!!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    I was a player of many different sports. I also coached many different sports which included, young 6 year olds softball players to high school hockey teams.

    i truly believe that sports provides a level of discipline , sportsmanship, bonding with other players. These are all good traits to learn. Some of the lessons and rewards that can come out of organized sports, there are is a down side to this.

    Injuries happen, and today's better coaches and organizations make sure that players are properly equipped and conditioned to try to minimize injuries.

    Knowing that football caused the initial set of spinal problems for myself, I did worry when my son started to play football. I wanted him to learn if that was the sport he was going to spend time with. (He didnt, his love turned towards Ice Hockey)

    So what am I really saying? Sports sre good and I would never discourage a person from playing. But it is so important to have the proper equipment and to be conditioned.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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