DO YOU KNOW THE Numbers???????
COACHES EVERYWHERE KNOW HOW MUCH THEIR ATHLETES BENCH PRESS OR SQUAT.
ATHLETIC TRAINERS ARE AWARE OF MUSCLE IMBALANCES , INJURIES OR THE PREDISPOSITIONS OF THEIR ATHLETES.
Coaches and trainers record all types of data about all sorts of things. Treatment given to particular athlete or in the case of a coach, maybe he has measurement of all the athletes vertical jumps.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears are common, but a major injury in athletics. There are timelines for recovery, how strong the musculature around your knee should be as you progress through therapy administered by the ATC.
No competent athletic trainer would release an athlete to return to competition unless he was sure the athlete was ready. The trainer, team physician, and the strength coach collaborate on how to best get an athlete back to playing their sport, but not until the athlete has regained full range of movement, propericetion, baseline strength levels etc.
The trainer needs best effort numbers from the strength coach to judge how far the athlete has progressed. There is a need to know how close to 100 percent the strength level of the muscular of the injured area, in this case being the knee, before the returns to play. The strength coach has numbers on squats, knee extension, for quadriceps strength, leg curl and RDLs for hamstring strength. Now they know how close the athlete is to regaining full strength in the musculature of the injured area. This way you have baseline measurements, solid number of where the athlete was strength wise before the injury and now after the rehab.
Lets examine another common but serious injury, Concussions.
Concussion Management is a Good thing. The Concussion Management Protocol allows the athlete to rest, sometimes sleeping in a dark room for hours a day until symptoms subside. What happens to the athletes strength level as their muscles atrophy while they rest? More importantly, what happens to the muscles of the head and neck. Those same muscles that were not strong enough to ward off the initial Concussion, are now even weaker because of the inactivity.
Now, we need numbers. Solid Numbers about previous Head and Neck Muscular Strength. What was the circumference of the athlete’s neck prior to the Concussion? How much have those muscles atrophied? Do strength coaches have numbers on baseline strength of the muscles of the Head and Neck? If they have baseline numbers on the quadriceps surely they will have numbers on the muscles that protect the Athlete’s Brain.
Sadly, I know of only one Division I University that documents all those vital numbers and has a data base of information at their disposal. Colgate University does an outstanding job of knowing those Numbers.
How can a team physician, strength coach and athletic trainers make an informed decision about Return to Play without All the pertinent information?
Do parents want their sons and daughters to Return to Play with a weaker body and a much weaker neck? We know muscles atrophy very fast, and if athletes are restricted from activity for longer and longer periods of time, then the muscles are even weaker when they return to competition.
Before an athlete can Return to Play, there are several tests. There are No tests given by professionals for head and neck musculature strength.
Would the Team Doctor give approval to an athlete to return to play from ACL surgery with weak quadriceps or hamstring muscles? Why would we put a helmet on the head of an athlete with a weak neck? Should an athlete be allowed to “head” a soccer ball with a weak neck?
What can be done to ensure that our athletes are Properly Protected?
1. Implement a comprehensive Head and Neck Training Program.
2. Strength coaches need to keep accurate and up- to- date records of head and neck musculature. Have current circumference measurements of male athlete’s necks.
3. Athletic Trainers and Strength Coaches need to share information of athlete’s strength levels, including the muscles of the head and neck.
4. Make this information available to Physicians so that an informed decision can be made about when an athlete can safely return to play.