elite athletes

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Can We Slow Them Down? Concussions

Football Concussion

How do we prevent concussion ?

Watching my one year old ( actually 18 months old) get into everything I feel like “STOP !!!” Half of the time he is getting into everything and if not, he is crying for attention. While watching the Kansas City Chiefs vs Indianapolis Colts I had alot of feelings, trying to tell the Colts stop and watching all the concussions the Chiefs had and saying, “WOW!!!”

With the recent media exposure of what concussions are how they happen, there is more attention on ways to prevent them. When a concussion occurs, generally during football, it is when your head hits the ground after the body hits the ground. What happens when a concussion happens inside the skull is the brain will bounce around and will get bruised.

Can we stop the brain from bouncing around in the skull? No we can’t. When the brain bounces, we  are too late. The biggest thing we can do to prevent concussions are, stabilizing and strengthening what is holding the skull up, from having a violent collision with the ground. The muscles to strengthen will be the neck and the traps. These muscles are the main areas that control the movement and stabilization of the head.Concussion

Now what can we do to help control the amount of concussions that will occur in high school, college, and pro’s? We have to build the areas that are deficient. The traps can be broken into three areas, Upper , Mid, and Lower Traps. The neck has many muscles  but the two we will focus on are the Sternocleidomastoid muscle and the Splenius muscles.   These muscles are the ones we will focus on to help prevent concussions.

The Sternocleidomastoid muscle is in front and allows the body to move in all four directions. The sternocleidomastoid originates at the manubrium of the sternum and the Anterior superior surface of the medial clavicle. The insertion of Sternocleidomastoid is the mastoid process, which is behind the jaw. While the Splenius muscles are in the back and attach or originate at the T3-T6 vertebrae and inserts at first three cervical vertebrae. The mastoid process and occipital bone is the bottom of the skull. The splenius muscles will allow the same movement. How do we strengthen these muscles? We strengthen these muscles by increasing  a resistance towards their actual movement.

The traps, which is a large stabilizing muscle, helps in the stabilization of the shoulder and the neck. If you have ever shrugged your shoulders then you have used your traps. It attached or inserts on the scapula to the clavicle and it originates C- 7  vertebrae to the T1-12 vertebrae.  To increase strength of your traps you again need to create resistance of their movement.

To create an exercise program, what exercises should we use? There are many, but the main ones I will show are simple ones that can be performed either during practice, the gym, or even at home.

 For the Neck:

Seated Buddy-System Neck Resistance

Front, Side and Rear Neck Muscles
  1. Sit at end of flat bench or chair
  2. cross arms or hold end of bench for support.
  3. Keep back straight, head up.
  4. Have training partner place a towel over head to keep your head from slipping.
  5. Partner stands to rear, straddling bench, with hands on your forehead.
  6. Pull your head down as partner provides resistance.
  7. Partner then smoothly and evenly pulls head back to a comfortable position.
  8. Resist with neck muscles
  9. Do prescribed number of reps ( 10 is good on each side)
  10. Do the same up and down movement with partner’s hands on back of neck.
  11. Partner now shifts to right side.
  12. Repeat up and down movements
  13. Then shift to left side and repeat.
  14. Do not let partner push or pull head far enough to cause discomfort.

Standing Band Neck Resistance

Front, Side and Rear Neck Muscles
  1. Use a band you can get it them at amazon or www.elitefts.net/
  2. Tie the band around a post or gym machine
  3. Place the band over head against the forehead
  4. Step Forward to stretch band.
  5. Pull Head forward as far as comfortable.
  6. Continue forward and backward for prescribed number of reps (10 to 12 reps)
  7. Turn around, place band against back of head
  8. Draw head back to furthest comfortable position.
  9. Continue going backward and forward for prescribed number of reps (10 to 12 reps)
  10. Place band against right side of head just above ear and go from side to side.
  11. Switch to left side and complete reps.

For  Traps:


Upper Traps
  1. Stand next to the bar with feet at a shoulder width apart 16″
  2. Grab the bar  with thumbs closes to you.
  3. Lift the bar with head looking forward
  4. Shrug your shoulders up towards the head.
  5. Keep your elbows locked
  6. Repeat until you finish the number of reps that are prescribed

CONCUSSIONS1These are a few things we can do to help prevent concussions. With an awareness of preventing concussions  through strengthening these muscles the amount of concussions caused from the head hitting the ground will go down.  By these simple exercises that can be performed in numerous places we shouldn’t have excuses in performing for are athletes.


Where is the Fundamentals?

    When starting out and learning a sport what do we learn? The basics or in other words the fundamentals of the sport. Its funny with the start of college and NFL football the most  common mistake which should have been in graded into each athlete as a child is form tackling. I see many defenders grabbing instead of keeping their head up and putting a shoulder into the opponent and then driving them into the ground. If these players would do the basics we would see better overall play and less injuries.

Why am I talking about this? I’m a world-class trainer where I have helped train many elite athletes over the years as well as winning a few world titles myself. Over the years I have seen throughout the country people getting away from what works and what got them to that elite level. One of my guys who was benching in WABDL worlds in 2007 blew his shoulder out and never has been the same since. How come he hurt himself? I stopped working with him a few years before hand (and just once a while up to WABDL worlds). Some of his competition  was getting more skill and better lifts in new advance bench shirts. Instead of focus on the skill of rowing the bar into the groove of the shirt he was bitter that what is competition was able to do with newer equipment that he couldn’t afford. So over the next few years he didn’t place his attention on what made him good and how to take advantage of his own talents.

As parents, coaches, and athletes what do expect out of ourselves and players? We have no ability to change others only ourselves, but keep this in mind when we are getting ready for anything. The better athlete is better because of only one major reason hard work on their overall fundamentals. A good athlete will do an honest  evaluation on what they do well and what the don’t do well. And they work hard on both ends the good and the bad. We can’t control what are competition will do ,but we have every opportunity to dictate on how we can make ourselves better. Lets get back to the fundamentals.

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