Whether your favorite level is little league, high school, college or pro, one thing is for sure; football is a favorite pastime in the fall.
And a friendly neighborhood or family game of flag football can be an invigorating workout.
Flag football offers your body a great dose of exercise, according to Camille Clinton, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with ProOrtho.
In addition to giving you a good aerobic workout (always beneficial for the heart!), the short bursts of running in flag football help build upper and lower body strength and use muscles in a different way.
And with its back-and-forth movements, flag football is great for developing agility, coordination and balance.
The ol’ football injury
While flag football is less intense than tackle football, it is not without its bumps and bruises.
Flag football players can still suffer normal football injuries, such as knee injuries, ankle sprains and even sprained or broken fingers.
Sometimes, injuries are the result of fast moves on the field, but it’s also not uncommon for injuries to occur from a lack of physical fitness or failure to take proper precautions.
So before you join the huddle, Dr. Clinton suggests making these three steps part of your game rules:
Step 1 – Warm-ups: “The best way to prevent an injury is to warm up,” she says. “Start with a light jog or run in place. Then, make sure you stretch. A lot of people skip the latter, but stretching helps your body become more flexible and makes you less prone to injury.”
- Rotate your neck
- Move your shoulders up and down
- Bend your arms up and down
- Turn your waist and hips from side to side
- Stretch your legs
- Twist your ankles
- If you’re the quarterback, add some throwing to your warm-up
Step 2 – Proper Gear: Like any sport, it’s important that you have proper gear to protect yourself.
Key flag football gear includes mouthpieces, ankle guards, knee braces and jock straps.
All of these are designed to protect particularly vulnerable parts of the body from any injury. There are even helmets designed specifically for flag football. While not widely used, they are still worth considering.
Step 3 – Know the Rules