Lacrosse is known as “the fastest game on two feet.” Because it is such a fast paced game, players need to be at peak physical condition and maintain that condition throughout the season and offseason.
Katie Palmer, athletic trainer for Dover High School, explains why it is so important to be in shape and how doing so prevents injuries and improves performance.
“Lacrosse is a very different game because players essentially never stop moving,” says Katie. “Therefore, it’s very important to stay in shape and maintain that shape throughout the year to avoid overuse injuries.”
What are the most common types of injuries in lacrosse?
Muscle strains are one of the most common types of injuries in lacrosse, Katie says. Since lacrosse is so fast paced, one movement could easily pull or strain a muscle. Stretching is so important because it helps give elasticity to those muscles.
Since lacrosse is a contact sport, players are also at risk for concussions. To prevent concussions, Katie recommends performing regular neck muscle strengthening exercises and making sure helmets are tightly secured.
Another factor lacrosse players should take into consideration is the weather conditions. Lacrosse is a spring sport, however most practices start around February. Because lacrosse begins during the winter months, muscle strains are even more common. Players should be conscious about stretching and should also wear warm clothes such as compression shorts to keep heat in. To keep their muscles warm, players should stretch during breaks such as between quarters and half time.
What are some good stretches for lacrosse players to do?
“Dynamic warm-ups are the best type of exercises an athlete can do,” says Katie. “Research has shown that static warm-ups are not as effective and actually do very little to prevent injuries.”
Dynamic warm-ups are those that involve continuous muscle movement such as tin-mans, butt kicks, or grape vines. Static stretches involves holding certain stretches for a certain amount of time.
Do coaches and players understand the importance of staying in shape/stretching to prevent injuries?
“Coaches and athletic trainers are pushing the importance of doing stretches properly, good nutrition, and maintaining fitness throughout the year, even in the offseason,” says Katie.
Some players may not fully understand the importance of stretching, but as coaches and trainers continue to advocate for it, players begin to understand the true importance and see the benefits.
“Athletes need to understand the importance of a dynamic warm-up because not only does it help prevent injuries, but studies have shown that it will also increase performance,” says Katie.
If an athlete suspects an injury, they can go to any ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complementary injury screening.