By Michael J. Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Manager
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

MUSC Health Stadium

Major League Lacrosse is coming to Charleston and MUSC Health Stadium! MLL announced in April that the Charleston Battery will host the 2018 MLL Championship at MUSC Health Stadium on August 18. Luckily, we do not have to wait until August to see Major League Lacrosse in action, as the first-ever MLL game in the state of South Carolina is right around the corner on June 30 at MUSC Health Stadium. This inaugural game is a match between the Charlotte Hounds and the Atlanta Blaze.

The buzz around the Charleston lacrosse community is the excitement about the upcoming matches. Over the past 10 years, lacrosse has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the Lowcountry and throughout the United States. According to USA lacrosse’s 2016 survey, there are over 825,000 players participating in organized lacrosse throughout the country, which is an increase of over 225 percent compared to their first survey completed in 2001.

As the game grows in popularity and participation, the topic of injuries always comes up. Parents are concerned for their children’s well being, as they are with participation in all sports. A study completed by Xiang et al., and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014, examined the number of high school lacrosse injuries (male and female) from 2008 to 2012. The top injury type was sprains/strains (38.3 percent) followed by concussions (22.2 percent) and abrasions/contusions (12.2 percent). The majority of the injuries were to the lower extremities (foot/ankle, knee, and thigh). In approximately 40 percent of the injuries that occurred, the players were able to return to play within 1 to 6 days and only 6.6 percent of the total injuries were serious enough to require surgical intervention.

So just like in all sports, injuries can occur in lacrosse, but there are also ways to minimize this risk through injury prevention techniques. Stop Sports Injuries has a full list of injury prevention guidelines for lacrosse players.

To prevent most prevalent injuries, sprains/strains, and concussions, here are my suggestions:

Sprains/Strains:

  1. Proper warm-up prior to play: This should include active movement in addition to both dynamic and static stretching.
  2. In season strengthening program: Focus on balance, dynamic stability, and core strengthening.
  3. Offseason training: Fitness training in the offseason can be the most important step to injury prevention. This should include a combination of cardiovascular training, strengthening and flexibility programs, plyometric training, and agility training.

Concussions:

  1. Know the rules and follow the rules: In boys’ lacrosse, when played correctly, unprotected hits should not occur, and in girls’ lacrosse there should be no head/face contact. Unfortunately, rules are not always followed or taught to players, so this is where experienced coaching comes into play.
  2. Wear the proper equipment: Lacrosse equipment is designed to be protective, but if helmets, facial equipment, and mouth guards are worn out or the wrong size, they may not be doing their job, which can lead to increased injuries.
  3. Know the signs and symptoms: If a hit occurs and there is a suspicion of a concussion, players should be held out of play until assessed by a health care professional trained in concussion management. Athletic trainers are your best resource for on-field management. If a concussion does occur, follow return-to-play guidelines to minimize the risk for escalated symptoms or future issues.

In lacrosse, just like in all other sports, there is a risk for injury, but the overall benefits of sports participation significantly outweigh the risks.

If you have read this far, you must be interested in the game, see how the elite do it, and come out to the game on June 30 and all of the festivities surrounding the Major League Lacrosse Championship at MUSC Health Stadium in August.