While playing sports is fun there is always the risk for an injury to occur. This is why football safety is an important aspect of the game that should not be ignored. Football is the leading cause of school sports injuries, and this is mostly due to the violent nature of the sport. Out on the football field, large bodies are colliding with one another and due to the momentum, they often hit one another with tremendous force. Nonetheless, many people play football despite the bodily consequences that often occur. Hitting and being hit is a part of the game, and because of this football injuries are extremely common among football players of all ages. Besides the typical aches and pains that come with playing a sport, football players are the most susceptible to concussions, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, as well as ankle sprains. It’s no surprise that football injuries are very common and can be serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. However, many football injuries are preventable with the correct know-how. Practicing football safety can help prevent injuries from occurring, educates players on the importance of using proper technique, and helps ensure that players are playing within the rules. Part of practicing football safety is eating right, staying hydrated, warming up properly, playing smart, and by using the correct gear. Eating right, exercising, and warming up properly can keep your body in tip-top shape. This will pay off on the field by helping your athletic performance and can help prevent football injuries from occurring at the same time. In addition, using equipment that fits properly plays a huge role in player protection and football safety. Equipment such as the Kerr Football Neck Collar can help prevent player injuries. Allowing the player to continue playing the sport that they love.

4 Conditioning Drills for your Pre-Season Workouts

Sprint Ladders

  • 2 x sprint 10 yards, rest 10 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 20 yards, rest 20 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 30 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 40 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 50 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 40 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 30 yards, rest 30 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 20 yards, rest 20 seconds between sprints
  • 2 x sprint 10 yards, rest 10 seconds between sprints

Sprint/Stride Intervals

  • 20-yard sprint
  • 20-yard stride
  • 20-yard sprint
  • 20-yard stride
  • 20-yard sprint

Rest 30 seconds between sets and repeat for a total of four to 10 sets. Start on the lower set range at the beginning of your pre-season training and increase volume as your conditioning progresses.

Tempo Runs

  • Have players start at a corner of an end zone and stride for 100 yards
  • Focus on long steps, slower than a sprint, faster than a jog
  • Jog across to the opposite side of the end zone
  • Stride 100 yards again
  • Walk across the end zone to the starting point
  • Repeat four to 10 times.

Again, start with the lower training volume (4 sets) early on and increase it as the season progresses.

Four Quarters

Sets/Reps: 4×4 (2-3 minutes rest between quarters)

  • 10-yard sprints with a 10-second rest between sprints
  • 20-yard sprints with a 20-second rest between sprints
  • 30-yard sprints with a 30-second rest between sprints
  • 20-yard sprint, 20-yard stride, 20-yard sprint, 20-yard stride and 20-yard sprint with a 30-second rest between
  • This ends one quarter. Go again three more times.

Player Safety is Priority For Local San Diego High School Football Coach

For Coach Richard David Sanchez from St. Augustine Catholic High School in San Diego, Calif, gentrified North Park sector, his affinity for football goes far beyond playing the game.

That’s why, when his personal ball playing career came to an end after graduating from New Mexico State University (he later went on to receive his Master’s Degree from San Diego State University), which began in pop warner tackle when he was eight years old and continued through Sweetwater High School, the Mexican-born, SD-raised former athlete knew he wanted to pay it forward.

Saints Football

I always had a passion for the game and to share it with young men – that’s what the Lord wanted me to do… somehow, my calling was to get back to high school.

Inspired by his father and uncle, both who the 48-year-old self-proclaimed Charger fan credits with instilling “compassion, value of hard work and education” in him; encouraged by the coaches that coached him throughout his years as a player; and, most recently, influenced by the coaches he coaches alongside with today, Sanchez knew — and still knows — his calling is in coaching others. He started his mentoring career while in college and, almost eight years ago, found his home at the all-boy school of 800 students, whose mascot is the Saints, helping it achieve a winning percentage of over seventy-five percent in the last seven years, as well as win two championship games out of four consecutive appearances, bringing the school’s total to five championship wins since its inception in 1922. “These guys are some of the most disciplined kids I’ve ever worked with,” says Sanchez about his team, which includes 200 players between JV and Varsity. “I would definitely say they are over-achievers.”

Despite having such a love affair with football, Coach Sanchez is well aware of the physical consequences of the game, and as the ever-changing sport continues to place focus on safety, he continues to reinvent his program to make sure his players are up-to-date, informed and educated.
“About two years ago we had a kid that made a block and broke his vertebrae,” he shares. “He had to be helicoptered in to the hospital. The following week, we had a couple of players hurt pretty bad. Then, we were smacked in the face when Junior Seau, whose nephew was on our team as a Freshman at the time, took his life. It hit home what a head and neck injury can do… So, we stepped back and looked at what we can do [and] we started teaching kids about safety a bit more closely.”

Made up of three parts — Strength and Conditioning, Athletic Training and Educating — Coach Sanchez’s package makes sure to tackle (pun intended) every angle of player safety and prevention across the board.

“Strength and Conditioning’ helps strengthen movement of the head to restrict neck and head from moving,” he explains. During “Athletic Training”, there is a pre-concussion and post- concussion test conducted before and after a player is hurt to test the brain waves and make an accurate determination if there is an injury and potentially understand the severity of it. And, finally, during the “Education” portion, Coach Sanchez himself makes sure his kids understand what concussions are and are aware of the symptoms (headaches, blurred vision, etc) so they can more easily recognize if they’ve been concussed and so that the appropriate measures can be taken (which can include having a child abstain from football for a number of days or all- together and/or get medical treatment).

Most recently, Coach Sanchez and his team invested in a couple of KERR Collars, a new protective gear created by a New York City Chiropractor named Dr. Patrick Kerr that is worn by players and is intended to create an extra level of protection for the neck area to help prevent injury to the head. And, while they haven’t put them to the test yet since football season hasn’t started, he is hopeful they will add another dimension to his proactive safety philosophy.

“When you come from a school of 800 boys, it’s very seldom, if at all… that we finish the season with the same amount of guys we started with due to injuries,” concludes Sanchez. “But, if we can save one or two kids from getting concussions or broken shoulders or broken vertebrates, then, we are on the right track. Then, I’ve really done my job.”

Knees, Shoulders and Ankles: The “Forgotten” Football Injuries

With concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) dominating the football headlines, it’s easy to sideline the importance of preventing other football injuries on the field, especially for high school and college athletes looking to carry their love of the sport into a potential career. One bad injury left untreated is all it can take to dash pro ball dreams, so along with state-of-the art helmets and concussion awareness training, student athletes should make sure their team is vigilant about all injuries, including those classified as “traumatic.”

Traumatic Knee Injuries

The most common knee injury in football involves the extreme stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), often caused by a strong blow to the side of the joint during a tackle. Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries are less common than ACL but just as serious, usually occurring when the tibia is struck with extreme backward force. When torn, the ACL or PCL unravels like a braided rope and will not heal on its own—surgery is required.

A recovery time of 6 to 9 months is also required, which is why preventing ACL and PCL injuries is so crucial—all that lost training and practice can have devastating effects on an athlete’s ability to compete later, even if the injury heals back to 100%.

The best ways to prevent knee injuries is to always jump, land, stop, and move with your knees directly over your feet, and never let your knees collapse inward. Specific injury prevention exercises and drills vary but they share a common focus: improving flexibility, strength (particularly of the core, hips, and legs), balance, agility, and your ability to jump and land safely.

Traumatic Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries in football usually occur from direct contact with another player or the playing surface, and typically result in either a dislocation or separation. A shoulder dislocation is when the humerus ball pops out of the scapular socket, but a separation is much more serious: the ligaments attached to the collarbone partially or completely tear away from the shoulder blade.

Another common shoulder injury is a rotator cuff tear, often the result of overuse and repetitive motion such as throwing a football, but it can also result from a tackling-type contact or a fall. Partial tears can be treated without surgery, but complete tears must be fixed by a surgeon to regain the full range of motion and function.

The first step to preventing shoulder injuries it to wear regulation equipment and padding that fits properly. Practicing proper tackling and blocking techniques is also important, as are strength and conditioning routines that increase flexibility.

Traumatic Ankle Injuries

There are several ways for football players to injury their ankles, although sprains—stretching, twisting or tearing ligaments around the ankle—are the most common. Football players typically sprain their ankles when slowing down or accelerating suddenly, changing direction unexpectedly, or suffering a blow to the joint during a tackle or awkward landing. Fractures are much more serious and often confused with sprains so it’s imperative to seek medical help immediately.

Football players are also at high risk for Achilles tendonitis, which is caused by repeated use and stress to the Achilles tendon—inflammation can lead to degeneration over time if not properly treated. Heel pain in the form of plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tissue around the heel) is another common injury from spending excessive time on your feet. For younger players (up to age 14), a particular concern is Sever’s disease, which is an inflammation of the heel’s growth plate caused by frequent running or pounding on hard surfaces.

Prevention of ankle injuries often comes down to improperly fitting shoes, but the best way to ensure your ankles stay strong against the demands of football is staying fit and flexible and warming up properly. Balancing exercises are great for honing your body’s “proprioception,” or ability to control itself in all types of positions. Also make sure to use the right technique when running so your weight is evenly distributed, and players can tape or strap up their ankles for extra protection during games and practice.

Traumatic Injuries: Not Necessarily a Dream-Killer

While some injuries such as ACL tears were once thought to be career-enders (or career-preventers for those still in school), medical treatments and surgeries have advanced to the point where players suffering from even the most serious traumatic injuries can recover and play another day. It might take time, and tons of make-up training, but these injuries are no longer the dream-killers they once were—as long as players are vigilant about treatment…and preventing injuries from happening in the first place.

Feature photo: Flickr: micolumnasana (cc license 2.0)

Balance and Stability Exercises for your Young Athlete

Continuing from our discussion on Effective High School Football Pre-Season Strength and Conditioning, here are a few balance and stability exercises that you can implement into your team’s pre-season and in-season workouts.

A few points to remember when considering if balance and stability exercises are right for your program:

  1. Your core works as the foundation, that, when combined with the strength of your legs, determine how much force you’re able to generate when you’re playing football.
  2. According to James Stoppani, author of the Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength, the amount of stress, strength, and endurance you have in your primary muscles is directly dependent upon the strength of your core muscles.
  3. “Balance conditioning is a way to train the body to make better use of the strength you already have,” (Louis Stack)
  4. When you train someone for stabilization, proprioception and balance, by default he or she is at less risk for injury. Good balance reduces the need for additional effort.

Feature photo: USAG Livorno PAO (cc license 2.0)

Effective High School Football Pre-Season Strength and Conditioning

Football as we know it has been around for over a hundred years, but as game play and game speed continues to evolve, so must strength and conditioning routines—even at the high school level. For student athletes about to commence “hell week” before school starts, here are some strength and conditioning drills that are sure to up their game under those Friday night lights.

Strength Training

It might be tempting for student athletes looking for autumn glory to use every weight machine in the gym over the summer, but discipline is key in pre-season strength training. The following is an example of a five-part routine used by high school coaches across the country:

Part 1: Stability

To build a foundation for heavy lifting, focus first on bodyweight and core stability exercise that improve flexibility, core strength and balance. At this stage, aim for low intensity and high reps.

Part 2: Endurance

Prepare for more advanced workouts by structuring this phase into supersets, with a strength movement followed by a stabilization exercise. Keep weights, sets and reps moderate but challenging enough to boost muscular endurance.

Part 3: Building mass

In order to tackle harder and block better, athletes need to build as much muscle as possible and cut body fat. Three full-body strength routines with two exercises per major body part does the trick, achieving a high volume of reps with each muscle group. Sets and intensity will increase as reps decrease.

Part 4: Maximum strength

After building muscle, it’s time to develop muscular strength with another full-body routine—this time with heavier weights. Perform two to three exercises for each major body part at nearly your max (90 to 100 percent), with increased set intensity but fewer reps.

Part 5: Power training

Now it’s time to transform strength into speed and power with “complexes”—exercises involving high intensity strength exercises followed immediately by low-intensity power exercises that work the same muscles, with a focus on explosive movements.

 

Speed-Ladder-Drill1-629x419

Conditioning

Long gone are the days of 100-yard sprints and long-distance running to prep for football season. Newer conditioning training is tailored toward anaerobics—drills that train the cardiovascular system aerobically. Check out these drills that are known to produce athletes who can keep up with the demands of a modern high school football game.

Sprint Ladders

Sprint ladders encourage all the qualities each player must possess, regardless of position: speed, agility, coordination and leg muscle strength. Try pairs of 10-, 20-, 30-, 40, 50-, 40-, 30-, 20- and 10-yard sprints with 30 seconds between each sprint.

Sprint/Stride Intervals

With a little fine-tuning, that obsolete 100-yard dash can be modified into an effective workout. Instead of sprinting the whole way, players can perform interval sets of 20-yard sprints and 20-yard strides across the length of the field. Striding is key in football, allowing players to cover more ground in less time.

Tempo Runs

Another way to modify the standard 100-yard dash is starting at one corner of the end zone and striding for 100 yards, focusing on long steps with a speed that falls between a sprint and a jog. Afterward, jog to the opposite side of the end zone again and repeat the stride back across. Repeat again, this time walking instead of jogging back, and repeat four to 10 more times.

Four Quarters

This progressive sprint drill builds endurance specific to football games, broken up into four quarters made of four drills. For the first drill, do four 10-yard sprints with 10 seconds of rest in between. Next, do four 20-yard sprints with 20 seconds of rest in between. Then, progress up to four 30-yard sprints with 30 seconds of rest in between. Finally, alternate 20-yard sprints and 20-yard strides across the whole full field with 30 seconds between each segment. And now that the first quarter is complete, repeat three more times.

Go, Fight, Win!

Starting a strength and conditioning routine long before the football season officially starts is crucial to making the most out of every practice.

Feature photo: Missouri National Guard (cc license 2.0)

Player Safety First: How High School and College Football Teams are Prioritizing Injury Prevention

As brilliant red and gold foliage heralds the return of autumn, over a million combined high school and college football players will take to the field with hearts full of hope, minds tuned into strategy, and bodies kept in tip-top condition during the offseason. Student athletes give their all to bring their schools glory—and sometimes, tragically, they give too much.

According to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, there were more than 500,000 injuries related to high school football in 2014, while the Center for Disease Control reports an average of about 9,500 college football injuries annually in recent years. Injuries typically range from minor cuts and scrapes to severe concussions, but with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) dominating sports headlines lately, many schools are now prioritizing injury prevention.

Competition and practice injury rates per 1,000 athlete-exposures

Competition and practice injury rates per 1,000 athlete-exposures

The “forgotten” injuries

Concussions are the most talked-about football injury, but there are several others that just as serious and shouldn’t be ignored.

Traumatic Injuries

Injuries to the knees—especially the ACL/PCL and cartilage areas—are quite common for football players of all ages, and they can adversely affect long-term involvement in the sport. Ankle sprains from inadequate playing surfaces and shoulder injuries, especially in offensive and defensive lineman, are also common.

Heat Injuries

The younger the football player, the greater the concern for injuries like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can result in death if not treated immediately. The danger is highest during training camp, usually in August, when intense physical activity after a relaxing summer combined with excessive heat can swiftly result in dehydration.

Overuse Injuries

Back pain in general—and lower back pain specifically—is a frequent complaint among football players due to overuse of the back muscles. Overusing muscles can also lead to overtraining syndrome, which is when a player trains so hard his body can’t recover.

Second Impact Syndrome

This injury, which has recently gained the attention of school coaches and administrators, is when a player suffers two concussions close enough together that the first has not had time to heal. Researchers have found that repeated trauma of this sort is a contributing factor to CTE, especially in student athletes who eventually go pro.

Safety and victory, working hand-in-hand

From Pop Warner to the NFL, football associations are taking injury prevention seriously—even at the government level, all 50 states have adopted concussion legislation with minimum return-to-play guidelines. But it’s up to players, coaches, schools and even parents to take the lead in team safety.

General safety guidelines

 At the very minimum, high school and college football players should:

  • Complete a pre-season health and wellness evaluation
  • Perform proper warm-up and cool-down routines
  • Incorporate strength training and stretching into conditioning routines
  • Hydrate adequately, especially in high temperature and humidity conditions
  • Stay active in the offseason
  • Make sure protective equipment—helmet, pads, mouthguard—fit properly

Schools can also help prevent and prepare for injuries by having an athletic trainer and team physician on staff, plus an ambulance and two paramedics on site during practices and games.

 Prevention tips for head injuries

The best prevention starts with the helmet—schools should ensure they are providing helmets that are highly rated in concussion safety tests. But even with top-of-the-line equipment, players should always tackle with their heads up and never use their helmet as a battering ram into other players. Additionally, many coaches are now encouraging rugby-style tackling, which leads with the shoulder and not the head, and emphasizes more wrapping up on a tackle.

 Prevention tips for traumatic injuries

Quadriceps-strengthening programs are well known ways to prevent knee pain and injuries, but newer methods such as “proprioceptive training”—increasing balance with simple exercises like standing on one leg for long periods of time—are gaining popularity to prevent ACL/PCL injuries.

Prevention tips for heat injuries

The best way to prevent heat stroke is to hydrate frequently and treat heat exhaustion in its earliest stages. Muscle cramps are an early sign, so that’s when players need to step off the field to cool off and replace fluids until they feel strong enough to return.

Prevention tips for overuse injuries

 The main causes for overuse injuries are poor technique, weak abdominal muscles, and low flexibility. Training year-round can help prevent back pain and injury—especially core exercises—and stretching before and after football practice is a must. Also, players should ensure they’re following proper techniques for lifting weights.

Winning is great, but it’s not everything

Sportsmanship is usually taught from a young age, but as kid athletes become student athletes with their hearts set on the big leagues, the pressure to win—from within and without—sometimes overshadows the reason the player started playing the first place: fun!

It’s important for parents and coaches at every stage of an athlete’s career to emphasize the importance of safety during practices and games. Pushing beyond a player’s abilities isn’t always a good thing—in fact, many injuries can be prevented by knowing individual limits and identifying where the line of safety falls in relation to achievement.

Sports can provide lifelong benefits in terms of physical fitness, teamwork, and close friendships, but players who ignore safety guidelines will soon find themselves on the sidelines—sometimes permanently. Thankfully, high school and college football programs now understand that making sure players keep playing is just as important as winning. So go, fight, win—but do it safely!

Stay tuned as we discuss in further detail, each of these injury types and preventative measures you can take as a parent and/or coach.

WABC Eyewitness News Reports on Kerr Collar Helping Youth Football Players

 

Heads Up Football

plastichelmet2In the 1940’s when we switched to a hard shell helmet. The risk of hemorrhage and skull fractures decreased by 50%.

The risk of NECK injury increased by 1012%. Yes, you read that correctly.

1012 %

What that should have told us is that Helmets alone are not enough to manage the forces of collision.

Let’s look at it this way. The human body protects its brain with a skull. The spinal cord is protected by bones. We take another step by adding a protective layer around the skull but we leave the spinal cord and bones of the spine completely exposed to injury.

Helmets need something to interact with as the forces of collision are driving the helmet toward the body.

How the head interacts with the neck plays a huge role in concussion and other types of brain injury.

The head and neck need to be looked at as one unit during collision.

Go to www.kerrsports.com to learn more. 

Why is the Neck Unprotected in Football?

Howie Long wearing the Adam's Roll

Howie Long wearing the Adam’s Roll

THE NECK IS THE MOST COMPLICATED AND MOST VULNERABLE PART OF THE HUMAN BODY. Especially during collision.

The history of neck protection in football is quite interesting.

The Adams white soft foam rolls were the first neck protection in football.

Though mostly a cosmetic device, the Adams roll, if strategically placed like the way Jack Lambert wore his, probably absorbed some forces, but because of the softness, probably not much.  If you wore it like Howie Long, it just made you look aggressive but provided little protection. 
Next came extension restrictors, the flat plastic things that stuck out of the back of pads and the Cowboy Collar. These neck protection devices were designed to stop the head from hyper extending or being pushed backward.

These devices are a horrible idea. We are teaching HEADS UP FOOTBALL for a reason. These devices do not allow the player to get his head up which puts the spine into a better position to absorb forces.

There are about 30 patents for neck protection devices, the only ones on the market are the Adams Roll and the Kerr Collar. The McDavid Cowboy Collar is no longer being manufactured. The other patented devices never made it to market because they are just not wearable.

So there is your answer as to why there is very little neck protection in football. It’s very complicated to provide a bio mechanically sound device for such an area when there are so many different sizes of players necks. Some NECKS are long and thin, others are short and big.  There are 3 or 4 shoulder pad companies, each with different designs. Making a universal neck device is close to impossible, but we have achieved it with the Kerr Collar.

I would highly recommend implementing the Kerr Collar into your sons pads to better manage the forces generated during collision. I recommend this as the inventor of the Kerr Collar and someone that has researched the neck during crash tests and as a doctor I have helped people who have lost their health from neck injury for 21 years.

Put a Kerr Collar on your son, he will be BETTER PROTECTED on the football field.

Learn more by going to www.KerrSports.com.