Football Players' Tendons Can't Handle Lockout : Discovery News
Even though scientists can't prove that the extended NFL lockout caused this season's high rate of injuries, the new study lends support to what athletes and coaches already know. To avoid injuries, it is essential to prepare your body in sport-specific ways -- whether you're an elite football star or a middle-aged weekend warrior who plays pick-up basketball or soccer.
"One of the reasons people tear their Achilles is that they are sedentary or relatively sedentary and then they step up the intensity," said Bert Mandelbaum, an orthopedic surgeon in Santa Monica, team physician for several Major League Soccer teams, and director of research for Major League Baseball. "Tendons just can't handle that level of stress."
And it's not just the Achilles that can blow when put into a high-pressure situation, Mandelbaum said. Bones, ligaments and tendons in the knees and elsewhere are all vulnerable to forces that they're not prepared for.
On the flip side, he said, our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt to extra loads when put through a gradual and comprehensive workout program that includes attention to strength, agility, coordination, aerobic fitness, balance and neuromuscular control.
Ballistic plyometric exercises, which involve high-intensity jumping, can be particularly helpful, Hewett said -- reducing the risk of joint, ligament and tendon injuries by as much as 50 to 60 percent.