How Do NFL Players Recover From Injuries so Quickly?


It can make you cringe in pain yourself, just watching it. A football player makes an amazing catch, and then gets instantly pounded down into the field by one or more opposing players eager to stop him. You hold your breath, wondering if he will get up or not. Usually, he pops right up and heads for the huddle, and seconds later is running the next play.

Other times, they aren’t so lucky. They are assisted off the field or carried off on a cart. Later in the game, you might hear the injury — a torn ACL, a cracked rib, a broken leg. They may be out for the season, or maybe only a few games.

From big hits on every play of the game or game-ending injuries for certain players, you wonder how they do it. Some of us have had knee surgery and weren’t even able to jog again. How do these football players take such a beating and then recover so quickly from their injuries?

Physical Conditioning

Athletes who play in the NFL are in top physical condition. They prepare for five months before each season by participating in football-specific conditioning and agility training. They work out with weights and engage in cardiovascular exercises. They cross-train with yoga, ballet and martial arts to maintain their core strength and muscle flexibility.

Football players warm up thoroughly and stretch out before each game. They are much less likely to sprain or strain a joint or tendon because they have fine-tuned their bodies to withstand the physical stress of football.

Access to Physical Trainers

Football players not only work out and exercise on their own, but they also have a staff of physical trainers to assist them, whether they are actively playing or are in rehabilitation. They have their choice of trainers, weightlifting coaches, therapists and motivational instructors whenever they need them.

These are people who have had advanced education in the science of exercise, bodybuilding, healing and nutrition. These people help them avoid getting hurt, and help them heal much quicker when they are.

Aquatic Training and Recovery

After taking a full game of beatings on the field, many NFL players will jump into a 55-degree tub to soothe their bruised bodies and stop further swelling. Considering most pools are maintained somewhere around 80 degrees, you can get an idea how cold that must feel. It’s essential to their quick recovery, though.

They also use pools to exercise in. Players submerge chest deep and engage in cardiovascular and weight training exercises. The buoyancy and water support protect the players’ bodies while making the exercise more strenuous. Water dumbbell bench pressing, backpedaling and other agility movements strengthen the muscles without straining them as much.

Access to the Best Medical Care

So NFL players are in great shape, they take care of their bodies and they have access to trainers and professionals whenever they need them. None of these things do them any good when they are knocked unconscious, or when they are piled on by 300-pound opponents. It can’t stop bones from breaking or connective tissues from tearing if they are forced too far the wrong way.

When those things happen, NFL players have an advantage the rest of us do not have — on-site immediate medical care. When a player is injured, first they are surrounded by trainers and assistants. These professionals care for their immediate needs, then get them to physicians and medical staff for X-rays, MRIs or any other test they would need to diagnose their injuries.

Injuries don’t have as much time to swell as they would for an average person. Amateur athletes might have to go home, ice an injury and follow up with a doctor in a few days. By then, the injury may have gotten much worse or gone undiagnosed.

Football players also have the advantage of being able to rehabilitate full time. Since football is their job, they don’t have to deal with calling in sick, work piling up or having to commute on crutches. Certainly, they are disappointed they are injured and that they may be unable to help their teams, but rehabilitation is now their sole job. They are eager to play again and are more likely to be devoted to their healing than the rest of us might be.

They have access to the best medical professionals and care the NFL can provide. Players have even received state-of-the-art stem cell therapy, which has drastically reduced recovery time in several types of injuries. Stem cells are injected, so there is no surgical intervention or prolonged healing times from cutting into the body. Stem cell therapy has been used in torn ligaments and tendons, bone fractures and even to reduce osteoarthritis in the knees.

We enjoy the excitement of football, and we love seeing our teams make great plays and win games. We like seeing opposing teams lose, but we don’t want anyone actually getting injured. It can be disturbing to watch, but it’s a reality of football. As violent and dangerous as the game of football can be, rest assured your favorite players are getting the best care on and off the field — before and after they play the game.

About the author: Scott Huntington