Wednesday, November 19, 2008

High school football and the "creep response"

Youth football is a dangerous game. This is well known. Here is a health risk that I am hearing for the first time: Playing football can make your child shorter.

This from the American College of Sports Medicine:

"Previous studies have suggested that through compression of the spine, the height of an average individual may be reduced as much as one percent during the course of a normal day. This gravity-induced phenomenon is referred to as "creep." In this study, researchers collectively studied whether the protective equipment worn by football players and the intermittent compressive forces they endure during a game would accelerate the creep response."

It did. Before games, the 10 players in the study had an average height of 176.56 centimeters. Afterward, 175.81 centimeters.

"The results indicate that high school football players' heights decrease during the course of a game by almost one full centimeter," said Brian J. Campbell, Ph.D., lead author on the study. "The decrease is likely due to the intermittent high-impact compressive loading of the spinal column during a football game, as well as the low-impact continuous compressive forces from equipment weight."

If your child played high school football, would this give you pause?

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