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Ultimate Frisbee may seem like a pretty safe game to play since it is a noncontact sport. As with any form of activity, though, there are still risks involved.
Since Ultimate Frisbee involves a lot of running, jumping and throwing, there are many different muscle groups being used that can get injured during play.
Understanding Ultimate Frisbee safety is just as important as understanding the rules of the game because taking preventative measures can help lower your risk of injury.
Preventing common Ultimate Frisbee injuries
The most common injuries in Ultimate Frisbee occur because of overuse.
During any given game, Ultimate Frisbee players sprint, jump, throw, and dive with an outstretched arm.
All of these movements put a lot of strain on the body, particularly on the arms and legs.
Because of this added strain, some common areas that suffer injury include knees, ankles, shoulders, hands, and head, but there are ways to lower the risk of these common injuries.
One of the most common injuries among Ultimate Frisbee players is an injury to the knee.
This can occur through a sprain which is a stretched or torn ligament or through a strain which is a stretched or torn tendon.
Two specific injuries that players are at risk for are IT band syndrome and ACL tears.
IT band syndrome is related to overuse of the muscles and can be prevented by implementing a regular stretching and conditioning routine.
ACL tears can occur from overextending the joint through quick stops and direction changes or landing from a jump.
You can help reduce risk of an ACL tear by adding pivoting exercises to you training routine.
Because of the amount of running and jumping involved in an Ultimate Frisbee game, players are at risk of ankle sprains and fractures.
This type of injury can be avoided by wearing athletic shoes that are properly fitted to your feet.
There are types of cleats that go above the ankle, providing additional support and protection.
If you know you have weaker ankles or have had a previous ankle injury, this additional support would be of great benefit to you.
To avoid ankle injuries, also be aware of uneven surfaces because stepping wrong on an uneven surface could cause your ankle to roll.
Shoulder injuries due to overuse can be quite common because of constantly extending the arm to throw the disc.
This overuse can lead to strains, which when left untreated, can even lead to tears.
Risk of shoulder injuries can be reduced by limiting use and being careful not to overextend.
When you throw the frisbee, be aware of how much force is coming from your shoulder and make sure your throw is controlled so you are not overextending those muscles.
Hand injuries are common and can occur in multiple ways. Fingers can get jammed or fractured from a bad catch because of the force behind the frisbee.
Wrist and hand fractures can also occur during a fall. It is instinct to put our hands out to catch ourselves if we are falling; however, landing with great force on your hand can lead to breaks and fractures because you end up putting so much of your body weight on that small part of your body.
Instead, if you are falling, try to fall to your knees rather than catching your full body weight with your hands to help prevent a more serious injury.
While Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport, accidental contact can still occur; for instance, if two players are both running for the disc at the same time, they could end up colliding with each other.
Making impact with another person can lead to concussions; concussions can also result from a forceful impact from a disc or from falling and hitting your head on the ground.
The best way to avoid a head injury is simply situational awareness.
Pay attention to your surroundings, including the people moving around you, and be even more aware if you are playing on a slippery surface such as wet grass.
You can also make it a habit of calling out that you are going for a catch, which will help you avoid colliding with a teammate that might try to make the same catch.
Ultimate Frisbee safety: What you need to know
While injuries during an Ultimate Frisbee game are certainly possible, the risk of getting hurt should not keep you from getting out there and playing.
There are several preventative measures you can take, though, to ensure you are being safe and reducing your risk of getting hurt.
You should always warm up before performing extended amounts of physical activity, especially before something as rigorous as an Ultimate Frisbee game.
A warm-up should consist of dynamic stretches, which are active movements where your joints and muscles are put through a full range of motion.
Dynamic stretches will help warm up your muscles, getting them ready for the activity they are about to perform.
Ultimate Frisbee is a full-body sport, so your warm-up routine should include a balance of exercises that target the full body.
Some recommendations for dynamic stretches for Ultimate Frisbee would be torso rotations, squats, jumping jacks, skater leans, leg swings, and arm circles.
Once you have completed the dynamic stretches and gotten your muscles warmed up, you can start warming up with the disc to get your body used to the types of movements it will be doing during the game.
Throwing the disc back and forth with a teammate will allow you to practice forehands, backhands, and hammer throws to get your arms moving and get them used to the motion of the throws while it is still low impact.
Lastly, you can get your heart rate up by practicing your cuts—running hard in different directions.
This will once again get your muscles used to all the movements they are about to do while also getting you pumped up for the game.
You can help reduce the risk of injury during actual gameplay by ensuring you are using proper form when you are jumping and cutting.
When you land from a jump, you should never land with a straight leg because it puts strain on the knees that is equal to four times your body’s weight.
Instead, land with knees slightly bent and stacked right over the ankles.
Also try to avoid side-to-side motion when you are landing for this can turn your joints in a painful way.
Additionally, your hips should be squared and you abdominals flexed for added stability.
When you are cutting, make sure you are changing directions with the outside leg, which is the leg furthest away from the direction you want to go.
Many athletes make the mistake of crossing their legs over to change directions which can lead to injury.
Finally, you can also prevent injury by wearing cleats.
Cleats have more traction than regular athletic shoes because they have studs on the bottom that grip into the grass and dirt, allowing you to be more stable on your feet.
Increasing your traction can help prevent slips and falls which will significantly reduce your risk of injury.
The cool down is just as important as the warm-up, but many people skip it because they are tired or don’t feel that it is necessary.
Don’t skip your cool down!
The cool down helps your muscles heal and stretches them back out from all of the movement that they just performed.
It also allows your heart rate and blood pressure to slow back down to a normal resting rate.
Since your muscles are already warm, a cool down can consist of static stretches where you focus on getting deep into the stretch and letting your muscles start to heal.
Make sure you stretch out your legs, your arms, and your back and chest because you work all of these muscles really hard during a game.
Finally, you can also lessen the risk of injury by regularly training and conditioning your muscles.
This can be an easy step to skip in your busy day-to-day life, but it is important preparation for the rigorous activity your body endures during a game.
By regularly conditioning your muscles, you are not only strengthening them, but also getting them used to that type of activity.
If you don’t train your muscles most days but then work them really hard on game day, your muscles are more likely to be extremely fatigued or to suffer an injury because they are not used to that type of endurance.
However, if your muscles are used to regular activity, they will perform better and with less risk during games.
While you should certainly not live in constant fear of an injury, it is beneficial to be aware of the risks in order to help prevent them.
Accidents happen, but utilizing proper training, warming up your muscles before a game, and ensuring you are using proper technique are all relatively simple preventative measures to help you stay in good physical health and safely enjoy the game you love.
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