This weekend, there were multiple tournaments being held around the country. Unfortunately, there was an abundance of injuries at these tournaments. One of the more common injuries was people having their collarbone broken. Since joining the Quidditch community, broken collarbones are the most common injury I have heard of. Having played a variety of sports my entire life and also having a background in athletic training, I can tell you that this is not normal. Common broken collarbones aren’t just “part of the game.” Unlike many Quidditch injuries, broken collarbones are almost entirely preventable. I think that part of the problem is that many in the Quidditch community don’t know the simple steps and techniques of collarbone injury prevention. It’s time to change that.
There are two major causes of broken collarbones, accounting for the vast majority of incidences of broken collarbones. While there are a few other causes, they are incredibly rare. If your collarbone breaks from one of these other causes, I’m sorry, but you really just had bad luck and there’s really not much you could have done to prevent it. But the two major causes are very much preventable.
Cause 1. Falling on an outstretched hand (FOOSH). When we fall, it is a natural reaction to stick out our arm to catch ourselves. We also tend to lock our elbows when putting our arm out to break our fall. Unfortunately, what occurs is that the pressure generated from impact with the ground then travels up our now-rigid arm and through the shoulder until it reaches the collarbone. The collarbone cannot handle that pressure, and snaps.
How it can be avoided: Do not stretch your arm out to catch yourself. Instead, tuck your arm into your body. Personally, I like to tuck mine into my upper stomach area. Some athletes prefer to tuck it into their chest. That is a matter or personal preference. See what feels best for you. It may seem counter-intuitive to bring your arm in instead of using it to catch yourself, but doing so allows your torso to absorb the brunt of the impact. This area of the body is much more naturally suited to absorbing impact than the collarbone is.
Cause 2. Landing sideways on your shoulder. When this happens, the impact basically shoves the shoulder straight into the collarbone, forcing it to absorb the impact. As pointed out earlier, collarbones are simply not designed to be able to withstand this kind of impact.
How it can be avoided: This occurrence is a natural hazard of the sport of Quidditch. Due to how we move in Quidditch, when we are tackled we often wind up with the side of our shoulder as the natural impact point with the ground. What we can do to prevent this is to twist while being taken to the ground in order to make the back of the shoulder become the impact point. The more of our back we can turn into the impact point, the better. So, if you can twist to the point that the impact is spread out over a large portion of your back, you have a much smaller injury risk. Use common sense however. If you are held quite tightly as you are being driven to the ground, do not attempt to force a large twist that could result in injury to other parts of your body, such as the ribs, spinal column, and/or internal organs. Also, be mindful of shoulder position when you are the one doing the tackling. If you catch them from the side and are beginning to drive them sideways onto their shoulder, rotate your upper body in order to redirect their falling trajectory onto their back.
There is also one other minor cause that can occur a little more frequently in Quidditch than is normal, so I will cover that briefly. Powerful direct hits to the collarbone can also result in broken collarbones. So when tackling, try not to hit the other player straight on in the collarbone (That’s aiming pretty high in the first place, so you shouldn’t really be doing this much in the first place). Also, when you tackle, in order to prevent injuring your own collarbone, do not lead with your collarbone. Instead, make your shoulder/pectoral area the point of contact when performing a tackle.
It is important to note that especially female players need to be cautious of collarbone injury prevention in Quidditch. In females, the collarbone is naturally thinner and lighter than in males, making female players even more susceptible to collarbone injury. This doesn’t mean that males should ignore the dangers of collarbone injury, but that females just need to be extra aware of the risks and proper injury prevention.
Hopefully, this injury prevention piece will help to keep my fellow Quidditch players safe from collarbone injury and allow us all to spend more time where we belong; on the pitch playing Quidditch. Please practice proper collarbone injury prevention, and make sure that your teammates are also aware of it.