When someone says they’re going to play ultimate frisbee, you might conjure up images of throwing a plastic disc to a dog or two people leisurely tossing it back and forth. But ultimate frisbee is comparable to sports like soccer, basketball, and football in that it requires endurance, speed, strength, and agility. It has a range of skill levels, including a professional league.
Ultimate frisbee is considered a “limited contact” sport, but it actually has quite a high injury rate. Statistics show that 88% of polled players have been sidelined due to an injury, with 71% of those players seeking medical attention for their injuries.
The Most Common Injuries in Ultimate Frisbee
Orthopedic injuries are very common in ultimate frisbee athletes.
“The nature of the game, with players leaping and diving to catch the disc, can lead to collisions and falls,” says Austin Roeda, MAT, ATC, an athletic trainer in the Division of Sports Medicine at University of Utah Health and head athletic trainer at Jordan High School. “The fast-paced, competitive nature of ultimate frisbee can sometimes result in players pushing their limits, which may lead to overexertion and subsequent injuries.”
The sport requires a lot of running, jumping, landing, and cutting, which can result in injuries from overuse. Muscle strains, particularly in the hamstrings and quadriceps, are the most frequently seen injuries. In a survey of polled players, 76% of participants said they had experienced some type of muscle strain.
When to See a Doctor for an Injury
“While ultimate frisbee is generally considered a relatively safe sport, there are instances where more serious injuries can occur,” Roeda says. “Although these injuries are less frequent, they do require immediate medical attention and a comprehensive rehabilitation process.”
Serious injuries that should be treated by a medical professional right away include:
- Concussions or any suspected head trauma
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and other knee ligament tears
- Bone fractures
- Shoulder dislocations or separations
Preventing Injuries and Staying Healthy
Sometimes accidents happen, and it’s impossible to totally prevent all injuries. However, there are some measures you can take to prevent common overuse injuries and keep you on the field instead of the sidelines.
According to Roeda, some key steps to preventing injuries include:
- Gradual progression: Give your body time to adapt. Everyone has different fitness levels, so if you’re new to the sport, it’s important to start a training program that gradually increases the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts. Doing too much too soon can lead to injury.
- Cross-training: Strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardiovascular conditioning will help to develop your overall fitness, which will make you a better player and reduce the strain on certain muscle groups.
- Rest and recovery: Giving your body plenty of time to rest is critical to prevent overuse injuries and play your best. Listen to your body for fatigue or pain signals. Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and drink enough water.
- Proper technique: Seek guidance from knowledgeable coaches and trainers to ensure you have proper technique when performing actions such as throwing, catching, and landing. Doing these activities incorrectly can put stress on your joints and muscles.
- Warm-up and cool-down routines: Don’t skimp on the important time before and after you play. A proper warm-up and cool-down routine is essential for performance and preventing injuries. For a warm-up, try exercises that will increase your heart rate, blood flow, and body temperature, such as jogging, high knees, butt kicks, arm circles, or torso rotations. For a cool-down, static stretches will help improve your flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.
Armed with prevention knowledge and strategies, you’re ready to hit the field this summer and give ultimate frisbee your best shot.