There have rightfully been concerns about potential infections and transmissions of the COVID-19 virus as lacrosse players, coaches and families aim to return to the field, but another issue that shouldn’t be overlooked is the potential injuries to players that are generally coming off of long periods of inactivity.

US Lacrosse hosted a webinar last Friday to highlight the issue and provide guidance to the lacrosse community on steps to take to limit such injuries. Participating were Ann Kitt Carpenetti (VP of Lacrosse Operations, US Lacrosse), Jay Dyer (Director of Sports Performance for MedStar Health and the strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. national teams), Matt Nein (coordinator of sports performance for Salisbury University) and Dr. Karen Sutton (associate professor and orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery).

Here’s a recording of the full webinar.

Prepping Athletes for Return to Practice and Games from US Lacrosse on Vimeo.

“The incidence of non-contact related injuries are higher following a period of inactivity,” Nein said. “This is a longer period of inactivity than we’ve ever seen before, so it’s probably going to be even worse than what we think it may be.”

One of the keys to mapping out a successful return is assessing athletes level of conditioning and monitoring their progression, and not just assume they’re ready to go full-speed right out of the gates.

“We need to look at having some base assessments, that’s critical,” Nein said. “We need to know that baseline of information as we progress over this course and not jump right back in.”

Among the points from Dyer was to assume that your athletes have done nothing.

“If that is your assumption going in, then the conversations you have will dictate how right or how wrong that assumption is,” Dyer said. “It’s your responsibility as a coach to find out what they have and have not done. Most of the information I’ve gathered from our athletes is they’re very good at being Forrest Gump. They just felt like running, so they went out for a run. They weren’t changing directions. They weren’t running particular differences. They definitely weren’t sprinting. That’s not what typical preparation is for the sport of lacrosse.”

The results and an increased level of injuries showing up at physician’s offices.

“We’ve seen a lot of overuse injuries,” Dr. Sutton said. “We’re starting to see stress fractures, shin splints. And then we are actually seeing ACL injuries right now with non-contact, side-to-side movement. It’s not specifically our typical female athlete, but a lot of these athletes haven’t had the same glute strength. We’re also seeing a number of shoulder injuries from inappropriate weight lifting."

Here's a link to the Power Point presentation used during the webinar. Please note that this is a large file and may take some time to download.