Strength and Conditioning
The Chargers have had more than their share of injuries. As a team that has had some of the most in the NFL the past few seasons, it kind of begs the question: Why?
One player that stands out in everyone’s mind is Ryan Mathews. Breaking a clavicle during a season is not unusual. Breaking both during the same season is highly unusual. Mathews, as well as some other players, have been plagued by the injury bug. I know that injuries are commonplace with any kind of contact sport, but some players are more susceptible to injury than others. Mathews didn’t really have a reputation in college to be injury prone, so I’m not quite sure why he’s having so many health issues since he’s been in the pros. Didn’t his Mother make him drink milk as a child? I would never speak ill of Mathews’ Mom though. She did the best she could under the circumstances. She was only 16 when she had Ryan and he spent the first four months of his life living in a car. Dad was MIA as well.
So back to the original question: Why do so many current players have problems staying healthy?
I don’t want to imply that I am more knowledgeable than the strength and conditioning coaches. All of which have their degrees in sports medicine or whatever. But having been a gym rat early in life, I learned some stretching exercises are a direct contradiction to what I see the coaches are having the players do for warm ups. For example, they’re doing high kicks or sitting on the ground bouncing up and down to stretch hamstrings. Bad. I was always taught not to bounce, as the muscle could contract like a rubber band and could tear stretching like this. Hamstring, neck, lower back, knee, ankle, foot and achilles are the areas most prone to injury. So poses that stretch these areas should be approached with particular caution.
The following stretches are considered risky due to the fact that they have a high risk of injury for athletes that perform them:
– Yoga plough (when you lay on the floor and place your feet on the floor behind your head)
– Traditional backbend
– Traditional hurdler’s stretch
– Inverted stretches
Overstretching and engaging in athletic activities without a proper warm-up can cause microscopic tearing of muscle fibers and/or connective tissues. If you have ever tried stretching, you most likely followed what most experts have advised, which is that stretching should last up to 60 seconds. For decades this prolonged static stretching technique has been the gold standard. However, what research is now showing is that prolonged static stretching actually decreases the blood flow within your tissue creating localized ischemia (a restriction in blood supply) and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, lymphatic, as well as neural tissues.
Maybe the coaches techniques are outdated.
Should the coaches promote calcium supplements, have the players drink more milk? Could the strength and conditioning coaches could do a better job and update their techniques, or are they just glorified personal trainers that should go back to the local gym for employment?
When you hear the term “New Regime” in context of the San Diego Chargers, the first names that come to mind are usually the new general manager Tom Telesco, the new head coach Mike McCoy, and maybe the new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. What most seem to forget is that the new regime goes way deeper than that, as far as coaches are concerned.
Strength and Conditioning coach Kent Johnston is also a first year member of the Charger coaching staff. His coaching career started in 1987 with Tampa Bay up until 1991. In 1992, he was the Strength and Conditioning coach for the Green Bay Packers for 7 seasons. During that span he was fortunate to be a part of 6 playoff appearances, 2 Super Bowl appearances, and 1 Super Bowl trophy for the 1996-97 season. The year 1997 continued to be a great one for Johnston as he was named the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. He spent the past 3 years with the Browns and now he is a member of THE San Diego Chargers at 57 years of age.
Johnston will not be alone. Another first year coach for the Chargers, Ricky Lyle, will be the assistant Strength and Conditioning coach in San Diego. Lyle, 42, is a former defensive end who played 9 season in the NFL. One season included a Super Bowl win with the 2002-03 New England Patriots. Lyle’s coaching career began in 2006 with the Jets. The past 4 seasons he was an assistant head coach for the Cleveland Browns, three of which he spent under Kent Johnston.
Johnston and Lyle will replace former strength and conditioning head coach Jeff Hurd and assistant coach Vernon Stephens. These two hires came in 2007 along with the arrival of Norv Turner.
These coaches are not to be looked over, as they are key pieces to the organization as well, having a direct influence on the players.
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