Six of the most common American football injuries

While rugby players might disagree, American football is a dangerous sport. Despite all the padding and helmets, one study of 35 former professional American football players found that 34 showed signs of brain injuries. This is mainly put down to the fact that unlike rugby players, American footballers tackle with their heads in a butting motion. (It has even been suggested that wearing protection might actually encourage players to use more force.)

American Footballers also suffer injuries because of movement in the game. Players frequently change direction quickly, putting pressure on the joints and other tissues. It’s also a sport where sudden bursts of pace are crucial which is a common cause of muscle damage. This is often the case in positions like quarterback where repeated actions can cause overuse injuries.

The growth of American Football in the UK means it’s a good idea to be aware of the risks and some of the common injuries which can occur while playing. Here’s a list of the injuries players suffer on a regular basis.


A concussion is defined as a serious trauma to the brain that changes the way the brain works. Effects are normally temporary, but it’s known to cause problems with concentration, memory, headaches, judgement, balance and coordination. This is most often caused when the head snaps and strikes the ground during a tackle.

ACL / MCL injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament in the knee is often damaged or torn when a player is hit from the front or behind. It is one of the most common injuries suffered by American footballers, and while a sprain can sideline a player for a few weeks, a tear can be season-ending. The MCL (medial collateral) connects the thigh bone to the shin bone on the inner side of the knee. MCL injuries are most common among offensive linemen.


Bursts of speed can cause hamstrings to tear, especially if a player hasn’t been properly conditioned or warmed up. There are different grades of injury to the hamstring with a Grade I injury sidelining a player for a few weeks. Grade III injuries are complete tears and are usually season ending.

Turf toe

It might sound slightly amusing, but turf toe is a common injury that can sideline footballers for six to eight weeks and can be extremely painful. It’s caused by ligaments under the joint of the big toe becoming sprained or ruptured as a result of the toe being hyperextended.

Ankle sprains and strains

Common to all sports, ankles are particularly at risk in American football due to the strain of pivoting and changing direction quickly.

Shoulder injuries

A direct blow below the shoulder can cause a separation of the acromioclavicular joint, and a shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus detaches from the scapula. Then there’s the risk of shoulder tendinitis, which can be caused by the repetitive motion of frequent throwing.

American football player’s insurance

With sprains, fractures, dislocations, spinal and head injuries all associated with such a physical, full-contact sport, we strongly recommend taking out an Insure4Sport American football insurance policy to give you peace of mind during both practice and competition.

With our Loss of Earnings option, if you were to injure yourself playing American football and you’re subsequently unfit to work, then we can provide you with a weekly allowance of up to £750 to keep you on track until you are ready to return to work. Our Personal Accident option can also help with costly physiotherapy and emergency dental treatment required as a result of an injury.

For players that compete outside the UK, we have European and Worldwide options so that you can enjoy the same degree of American football insurance you have when in the UK.

American football is a category D sport, along with Rugby League, Rugby Union, Skiing and Snowboarding. This means that if you are to take out an Insure4Sport American Football insurance policy you will also be insured whilst taking part in any other category D sport for no additional cost.

Find out more here.

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