An unexpected rise in NFL injuries during bizarre COVID-19 season

By Cian Shaw

NFL team rosters have been looking short this season due to the number of injuries so far. 

Leading up to week seven of the NFL season, there have been almost 500 injuries (including personal leave for health concerns) since August, compared to 681 total injuries in 2019. 

A large chunk of those injuries is NFL superstars. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in week two and will be sidelined for the rest of the year. 

The NFL had to cancel its preseason due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving players with very little tackling reps prior to week one.  

Alex Djukic, a defensive lineman for the University of Manitoba Bisons, says preseason games are important in preventing potential injuries.  

“When you’re playing actual games your body just is adapted to that physical exertion, the hard hitting, so when you play preseason you get the build-up towards a full season. Your body gets adjusted,” said Djukic.

NFL teams don’t usually do any tackling in their practices to minimize the risk of injury, and players had minimal physical contact with each other during training camp in August due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Nathan Gould, a kinesiology student at the University of Winnipeg, talked about athlete biomechanics: the study of motion for any biological system.

“Injuries are happening because players’ biomechanics need to improve. Lack of properly warming up muscles prior to game time is causing a lot of these muscle injuries” said Gould. 

He also talked about how players are putting themselves in bad positions leaving their muscles and joints vulnerable to injury. 

“A lot of the knee and leg-related injuries are due to players being in poor positioning situations. This causes their muscles and joints to be in vulnerable positions”. 

Muscle injuries are also high this year, and some doctors say this is caused by increased injections of painkillers and the use of anabolic steroids.

Dr. Brian Rumbolt from the Assiniboine Medical Clinic says players don’t notice pain because of painkillers like Toradol, leaving them more susceptible to injury.

“Toradol injections can control pain. Your pain tolerance increases once injected. Players start throwing their bodies around and don’t realize the pain being caused,” said Rumboldt.

“They also use anabolic  steroids (which is considered illegal); this gives your muscles that extra bit of strength while working out and causes stress on them, but you don’t realize.” 

The NFL has not come out with a statement regarding the increase in injuries to its players this season.