Surprising study shows cold weather a factor in NFL injuries

Surprising study shows cold weather a factor in NFL injuries

Study shows weather has an impact on risk of injury.

Canadian researchers looking at data from the five most common injuries plaguing National Football League players between 2012 and 2014 have found the cold weather contributes to an increased risk of injury, according to UPI.

The findings show the players’ risk of concussion was twice as high on days when the temperature at game time was 50 degrees or colder, and players had a 1.5 times greater risk of ankle injuries, as compared to games played when the temperature was above 70 degrees.

Lead study author Dr. David Lawrence, a clinical fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said there had been a lot of discussions lately concerning risk of injury in the NFL, particularly concussions.  “The first step in improving player safety and lowering that risk is to identify the factors affecting injury rates. Once we can answer those questions, we can begin to modify player exposure,” said Lawrence in a news release from the hospital.

He continued by saying, “There is limited research looking at the external risk factors for injuries in the NFL.  Given this is one of the first studies to look at these variables, we can only speculate at this time on the underlying causes for the associations we observed with specific injuries on game days.”

Calling for more research on the matter, Lawrence gave examples that may play a factor in the findings, such as protective equipment worn by the players may not be as flexible on extremely cold days, which cold increase the force of impact.

He also suggested the players may be reporting injuries at a higher rate on cold days, because of additional contact with the athletic staff on the sidelines.  The possibility exists that concussion-related injuries occurring in the warmer weather could be misdiagnosed as heat-related conditions and skew the data as well.

“Applying this information may help inform future injury prevention strategies in the NFL, or other professional sports, and highlight the effects of these seemingly small external factors,” said Lawrence.

The findings of the study were published in the March 31 issue of the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

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