HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Gary Stroud is a manager of Hattiesburg Clinic’s Sports Medicine and he’s seen a variety of sports injuries in his career. One of the most critical mistakes football players and athletes in other collision sports should avoid is dropping their head when making contact.
“One of the things that I know that I’ve told athletes before is, especially in football, you really want them to hit what they see. You know keep your head up,” said Stroud
If you’re going to tackle a person, make sure you can see them, Stroud said. And keep your head and eyes up the whole way through.
“Put their facemask in their shoulder pads things like that where they’re not dipping the crown of their head down to tackle somebody,” he said.
Stroud said really serious problems can occur when players have their heads down when making contact.
“When you start leaning down and you start having that actual load, that’s what it’s called," Stroud said. “That’s when the crown of your head takes a hit and it loads up your cervical spine. You really put yourself at issue to have some type of neck injury.”
Those actions can result in a variety of different injuries.
“Whether that’s a disk problem or a fractured vertebrate to where it pinches a nerve and it may cause paralysis," Stroud said. “It may be permanent or just for that time being. So anytime that you lead with the head, you’re really putting yourself at risk.”
Stroud adds that with the given incidents that have taken place in the state, education is key.
“Throughout our year, I think Mississippi has had several kids already that’s died and usually its our south heat that gets kids, so just educating,” said Stroud.
Along with education and safe practices, Stroud said communication with athletic trainers and coaches is just as vital.
“It’s just like a kid with a concussion," Stroud said. “Concussions are all symptom related. Its not something that I can see maybe if you’re wobbly and your balance is terrible, but everything else is you’re telling me you have a headache you’re telling me you’re nauseous.”