Our athlete’s are pulling muscles. All we need to do is stretch more, right?

Posted: July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

As I was reading the newspaper and checking in on my beloved JETS, I couldn’t help but stop, read, and re-read the following headline and article out of the Newark Star Ledger, “Rex Ryan changes practice schedule to cut down on soft tissue injuries”.

As someone who literally pays my bills dealing with soft-tissue injuries and loves dealing with athletes, I was more than curious to see what exactly good ol’ Rexy was up to this time.

So, rather than giving it to you in my own words, let me just give you some of the key excerpts from the article:

Because of a rash of groin and hamstring injuries…

The stretching and warm-up period will be extended 10 extra minutes

We have had a lot of hamstrings, a lot of those type of deals,” Ryan said. “If we can prevent them, our strength and conditioning (staff) and our trainers feel that would give us a better chance of being more successful with the hamstrings.

Have you ever seen that car commercial where the kid asks like a thousand questions? If not here you go:

I know, what does one have to do with the other. Well, my friends often compare me to that kid because I’m always asking a thousands questions. I always want to know ‘why’.

Naturally, when I see the JETS coincidentally had a rash of hamstring and groin type injuries, I asked why.

I’m not sure anyone really has the answer to this but here are a few theories:

1) True Tissue Shortening– Yes, it is possible that the JETS just so happen to have a collection of the athletes that truly have unbelievably short groin and hamstring muscles. This truly could be the only problem they have. Seems unlikely, no? However, if that were the case, then yes, extra stretching and warm-up time would certainly be in order for the team.

2) Soft tissue QUALITY – I think out of any other concept that gets misunderstood by the general public, it is this. Many patients come into the office and say, “I don’t understand why I have this knot, I stretch all the time.” This is a chance to explain to them this distinct difference. I think the ‘tying a rope in a knot’ analogy is a great way to go.

Mrs. Jones think of your muscles as a rubber band. If you tie a knot in the rubber band and then try to stretch it, that knot will still be there. In fact, much like the rubber band knot, your muscle may actually get tighter by stretching it

So what’s the solution? At minimum, some self myofacial release would be in order. Grab a lacrosse ball and foam roll, find the spots that feel like crap, and sit on them.

3) Too much, too soon, too fast- I stole this from one of my professors, Dr. Russ Ebbets. It’s no secret that at any level, most athletes get injured the first week of practice simply because the adaptation is not adequate. It’s like going from 0-60 by flooring it. Rather than slowly building up to speed, players literally hit the ground running during training camp when they simply are not ready.

Honestly, this issue is two-fold. I think it is partially because of the player and partially because of the team. Many players (even though they are professional) still are not ready for the demands of the pre-season when they arrive at camp. And on the other side, many coaches still have the mentality of physically abusing players early in camp in order to get them mentally tough. I am aware of the new contract agreements in the NFL that does not allow for such abuse to take place like it used to, but I think we would all be remiss to think it is completely gone.

4) Hydration Level- Quite frankly, it’s hot outside. In the Northeast (where the JETS train) it’s humid and gross. To think hydration may not be a part of the problem would certainly be an error in judgement. I know when I was younger, I thought all pro athletes ate healthy, hydrated, and wouldn’t do anything that may hurt their performance on the field.

*Ironically, I was born in 1986. You know, the year when the Mets won the World Series. A team that included Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Keith Hernandez. These guys did nothing good for their bodies, I promise.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I’m sure many of these athletes have diets that are less than stellar. Add that to the fact that they are essentially eating cafeteria food during training camp and you have a great chance for cramping and muscle fatigue which can often mimic soreness and/or strain.

5) Check their movement- I’m saving the best for last. This is my personal favorite and where I would start with all my athletes if given the chance.

I have often wrote about my great admiration for those who specialize in movement based care. The short list included Gray Cook and Craig Liebenson, but I know there are a ton of other fantastic people preaching the gospel as well.

Anytime I see or hear about someone who pulled this, or has a chronically tight that, I’m always frothing at the mouth to see how they move. I want to know really what is working and what isn’t.

The first time you see a 6’8 All-American basketball player who can barely hold his leg up into abduction because of muscle inhibition is a life changing experience. Seriously, don’t give the athlete too much credit. Really check the movement.

If my life depended on it, I would probably guess that the recent rash of injuries the JETS are facing would probably be a combination of the above 5 topics. But, I would also venture to say #5 is much more likely the cause than #1.

Anyway, just my opinion. I would love to hear some others!

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Comments
  1. Strangely enough, I would start with a spine, pelvis and extremity survey of the Joint Play Accessory Movements that afferentate from the joints and determine recruitment order. S/Is that are missing these accessory movements cause tight hams that strain / tear more easily. Adjusting changes muscle FUNCTION. This approach got me appointed as the first DC to be housed at the Olympics with the Canadian T & F Team in 1984.
    Dr. Faye DC, FRCCSS(C)Hon., FICC

  2. […] this season I posted a blog titled, Our athletes are pulling muscles. All we need to do is stretch more, right? The premise of this was based around my beloved (yet awful) New York Jets. This article talked […]

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