Medicine Science Sports and Exercise published, Acute Lower Extremity Injury Rates in College Athletics. Researchers' purpose was to study lower body injury rates pre and post concussion.
Their findings were as follows:
“Within 1-year post-concussion, the concussed group was 1.97 (95% CI: 1.19-3.28; P=0.01) times more likely to have suffered an acute lower extremity musculoskeletal injury post-concussion than prior to concussion, and 1.64 times (95% CI: 1.07-2.51; P=0.02) more likely to have suffered an acute lower extremity musculoskeletal injury post-concussion than their matched non-concussed cohort over the same time period. Up to 180-days post-concussion, the concussed group was 2.02 (95% CI 1.08-3.78; P=0.02) times more likely to have suffered an acute lower extremity musculoskeletal injury post-concussion than prior to concussion.”
The above study is a strong message of the significant purpose of strengthening the head and neck musculature and rehabilitating the muscle tissue once a head injury occurs. When training this critical area not only are you protecting oneself from head trauma but are lessening the risk from injury in other areas of the body that may occur over time.
One of the important functions of strength training has become the development of the muscle and tendon as a unit. The muscle-tendon unit attenuates and dissipates force.
Having a strong neck, stiff tissue with a compliant tendon lowers concussion risk, when we have contact and stretch the muscle it will lengthen slowly transfer force reducing the acceleration. During lengthening the muscle dissipates force as heat, which in turn lowers the subconcussive forces protecting the athlete from sudden expected or unexpected movements. Having greater neck strength and/or stiffness upon impact reduces the magnitude of the head’s kinematic response.
Once injured, to have adequate rehabilitation for whiplash or a concussion the athlete must return to pre-injury levels of strength, as well as pass the appropriate neurological evaluation or be at further risk. The conundrum is that the pre-injury levels of neck strength must be known. Re-strengthening this critical area is a must and protects the athletes head, as well as lower body once returning- to- play.
Preventative sports medicine is the hallmark of any strength and conditioning program. The first goal of a professional is to develop effective and practical ways to reduce the number of sports-related injuries. Get and Keep the Head and Neck Strong.
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