Safety tips for Turkey Bowl football fun
For many, a football game at a local park is as much a part of Thanksgiving as a turkey dinner.
Playing football on Thanksgiving, also known as a Turkey Bowl, can bring out the competitive edge in former athletes, many who are no longer in the shape they once were, making them prone to injury.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of injuries through the years that are the direct result of this once-a-year Thanksgiving Day ritual,” says Dr. Steven Chudik, sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Some are preventable, some are not.”
Common Turkey Bowl injuries
The most common injuries are strains or pulled muscles — hamstring, quadriceps, groin and calf. Dr. Chudik says these injuries can often be prevented with a good warm-up that includes dynamic stretching and some running.
Although muscle strains are common to see following Turkey Bowl games, more serious injuries such as shoulder dislocations, separated shoulders, anterior cruciate ligament tears, quadriceps tears, patellar and Achilles tendon ruptures and hand and ankle fractures can also occur. For these more serious injuries, Dr. Chudik recommends seeing a sports medicine physician to begin treatment and rehabilitation as soon as possible.
The playing surface, shoes, weather and playing beyond one’s physical capability can contribute to these injuries. Many like to think they can still go out and play a friendly game of touch football, when in reality it can be very risky if they don’t exercise regularly.
To prevent injuries Dr. Chudik offers these tips:
- Begin conditioning at least four to six weeks before the big game. This should consist of regular stretching and strengthening, as well as running and agility exercises.
- If that isn’t possible, avoid activities that pre-fatigue muscles in the few days preceding the game and arrive early to warm-up.
For those who may wind up injured, Dr. Chudik recommends the R.I.C.E protocol for pulled or strained muscles, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. In addition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen can help provide quick pain relief.
For more severe symptoms, he recommends an evaluation by a sports medicine specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment that may include physical therapy to regain full function and prevent re-injury.
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