Mercifully, the National Football League season is almost upon us. Real games are only 11 days away. As the great blogger PFT Commenter asks, how are you preparing for the NFL season?
I have written before about injuries in the NBA. Today, let’s turn our focus to the National Football League.
Michael Lombardi, the former General Manager of the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns and an assistant to Bill Belichick in New England, tweeted an eloquent yet simple message today. Lombardi wrote:
To get good at football, you’ve got to practice football; unfortunately, there’s seemingly no way to play football without getting hurt. This is why depth is so important. If a 225-pound safety projects their helmet into your knee, there’s really not a lot you can do. Much to the chagrin of Lombardi, this is the reason most NFL coaches are reluctant to play their starters for more than a few quarters during the entire preseason.
Surprisingly, only 30 percent of knee and leg injuries are due to contact. Thus, the vast majority of leg injuries in the NFL are theoretically preventable.
Ian McMahon of Sports Illustrated argues that a lack of preparation in the preseason is leading to more injuries. He writes,
“Part of the problem may be that, despite complaints that the NFL preseason is too long, preparation for the season may be inadequate.”
Dr. Marcus Elliot, a Harvard trained physician and a muscle injury specialist to the New England Patriots, told McMahon,
“But the rigors of football are so high that if training camp doesn’t prepare athletes for high force, high-stress movements, then players will be vulnerable to injury.”
Hard hits and brutal collisions are not the main cause of hamstring strains and other muscle injuries. Instead, the evidence indicates that those types of injuries are caused by poor body mechanics. These include poor running technique, a lack of training, and a lack of strength.
In the end, perhaps Lombardi’s tweet is only half-right. Obviously, to get good at football you have to play football. And to keep playing you have to avoid preventable injuries. Investing in methods proven to prevent injuries before they occur is also part of the equation.