Ultimate Frisbee Injuries

Ultimate Frisbee is a steadily growing sport known for its highly dynamic yet uniquely free-spirited approach as a team sport. According to the Sport and Fitness Association, in 2012 over five million people were playing ultimate in the United States alone (more than ice hockey, lacrosse, and rugby combined). As a result of frequent sprinting, cutting, jumping, diving, collisions,  in combination with a high rate of mixed skill recreational play, injuries playing ultimate are fairly common.

Preventing Ultimate Frisbee Injuries

Here are some tips for how to avoid injury while playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Warm up and cool down

Warming up prior to practice or game play is an important step in reducing risk of injury as muscles are more susceptible to injury when cold. Warm ups should consist of upper and lower body activity that will warm up muscles required for play and slowly increases hear rate. Static stretching should be done after play has ended.

Protect your joints

Using proper technique when jumping and changing directions is important in reducing the risk of injuries to knees and ankles. Hips, knees, and feet should stay in alignment when planting from jumping, landing, and changing direction. Appropriate use of wrist flicking is necessary to prevent elbow and shoulder injury. Learning how to reduce impact while laying out is also important to decrease risk of rib and shoulder injury.

Training and conditioning

Strength training should be balanced and incorporate core, hamstrings, hip, gluteus, and forearm muscles. Conditioning programs should focus on speed, agility, and endurance required for the rigors of the game.

Don’t play through the pain

Pain is your body’s alarm system that is designed to alert you of potential danger or injury. Sometimes all the body needs is rest to heal, but often times a consult from a medical professional in necessary for appropriate recovery. Playing through pain is rarely a good idea and could potentially lead to a permanent injury.

Common Ultimate Frisbee Injuries and Conditions

Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and its cord-like structure connects the lower leg muscles to the heel bone. This tendon is vital for walking and moving the foot. When the tendon experiences repeated or excessive force, the result can be a tear, or rupture, in the Achilles tendon.

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Sprained Ankle

The ankle joint is held in place by ligaments which stabilize it. When these ligaments are stretched beyond what they can bear from a sudden twist, turn or rolling of the ankle, the result is a sprain. Depending on the severity, this could even include the ligament being torn.

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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome primarily affects individuals who tend to overuse their knees such as runners, cyclists, skiers and others whose activities involve running and jumping. It encompasses a group of conditions that impact the area surrounding the kneecap. This results in damage, strain or inflammation of the structures, which leads to pain.

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Knee Ligament Injury (ACL, PCL, MCL)

The majority of stabilization in the knee comes from the ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are made up of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which cross to form an “x” shape inside the knee. The collateral ligaments provide additional stability on the inside of the knee through the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and outside of the knee through the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The LCL is not addressed in the following information, as it is seldom injured. Ligament injuries can come from sports-related movements such as pivoting, jumping, stopping quickly, or a direct impact to the knee. These injuries can happen to people of many ages and activity levels, and is by no means limited to athletes.

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Dislocated Shoulder

When a shoulder is dislocated, the normal ball in socket formation is disrupted. The shoulder injury occurs when the ball is forced forward, backward or downward out of the shoulder socket. Dislocations can be partial or full, but both cause pain and instability. Very commonly, dislocations are the result of a sports-related injury or fall.

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