Is It Normal to Get Headaches After Football Practice?

Young man holding his head, close-up
A headache can warn of serious injury for a football player. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

You should always pay attention to a headache before, during or after a football practice, because it might signal something much more significant. Headaches can arise from something as simple as dehydration, but they can also signify a brain injury, such as a concussion. Players with headaches should never ignore the pain and should stop practicing immediately to seek medical attention because headaches remain dangerous for any football player.

Concussions

While not all headaches on the football field come from concussions, the book "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues" reports that up to 47 percent of all high school football players have suffered a concussion. Many of these concussions go unreported because these players do not want to lose their spots on the team. Many players believe that they should not worry about headaches unless they lead to or result from unconsciousness, but all players should have an awareness about the dangers of head trauma.

High School

Countless deaths have occurred after high school practices and games over the years, with many of the deceased reporting headaches in the hours leading up to their deaths. In 2008, offensive lineman Atlas Fraley called for emergency attention after complaining of a headache after football practice. When the paramedics arrived, they diagnosed it as dehydration and left him at home after pumping him with fluids. Family found Fraley dead a few hours later because of head trauma he suffered at practice, the KnowConcussion website reports.

Professional

Professional football player Percy Harvin did not, as of the 2010 season, have a history of concussion, but reported suffering from migraine headaches occasionally. During a practice before the 2010 NFL season, Harvin complained of a headache, but soon returned to the field after receiving medical attention. The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver later collapsed on the field and the team’s medical staff rushed him to hospital. This shows you should receive immediate medical attention for any headache you suffer from on the field, regardless whether direct contact occurred with the head or not.

Precautions

Headaches can occur for different reasons during football practice, but no player should ever ignore them. In a contact sport, any number of collisions can cause a concussion, and a player should never return to the field until all of the symptoms have subsided. Those who return to the field before the headache has disappeared have a much greater risk of suffering from extremely dangerous conditions like second impact syndrome or post-concussion syndrome, researchers warned in a study published in 2001 in the journal "American Family Physician."

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