College football players are much more likely to suffer injuries during weeks when they’re taking tests than during training camp, a new study finds.
Added stress is the culprit, said study author Bryan Mann.
“Stress is systemic,” explained Mann, an assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of Missouri.
“Everything players deal with on a daily basis creates stress. They don’t have separate accounts to withdraw from for practice, school and relationships,” he said. “Whenever there’s stress, something’s got to give. Otherwise, it’s similar to when unexpected expenses arise at the same time and you’re likely to overdraw your checking account. It’s the same idea but on a physiological basis rather than a monetary one.”
The link between increased levels of academic stress and more injuries was especially evident among starting players, the researchers found.
They looked at 101 players on a Division 1 college football team during a 20-week season. During that time, 60 athletes had 86 injury restrictions.
Players were about three times more likely to have an injury restriction during weeks with high academic stress — such as midterms or finals — than during weeks with low academic stress.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers college health and safety tips.