One of the big factors in sports, especially the major team sports, is injuries. Teams that can stay healthy, and seem to avoid a slew of injuries, have a better chance of getting a championship. Injuries throughout the history of sports, have always been a bit of a mystery. Some players seem to avoid injuries, and other players always seemed to be plagued, with various injuries. Some years teams will experience the same thing. One year there seems to hardly any injuries, and the next year the whole team seems to go on the shelf. What I find interesting, you do not hear much about teams in any sport, trying to avoid injuries. It seems they leave it up to Devine intervention. All teams, in all sports, seem to go through some heavy duty workout routines, but they really don’t seem to make much difference, in injury avoidance. I do not think there is any doubt that football has the most injuries, with the other three sports, baseball, basketball, and hockey running neck and neck, with maybe hockey having the second most. The latter three seem to have their own set of unique issues, when it comes to injuries. Baseball with the arm issues, basketball with the knees, and hockey with various upper body injuries. If you google why one player seems to be able to avoid injury, and others seem to be prone to injuries, there are lots of articles. Let’s look at some theories, which for the moment don’t seem to be helping much.
One theory is the micro injury or tear, which goes unnoticed, until the repetitive action of the motion causes a bigger problem. These are termed, the injuries of redundancy of action. Working out can cause these injuries, and throwing motions in the respective sport, can be good examples, of potential injury causing problems. One study looking at football injuries, narrowed it down to three issues. Muscle Imbalance, Core Stability Deficits, and Poor Neuromuscular Control. There has been developed a set of 7 Functional Movement Screens which evaluates the aforementioned factors, and is scored anywhere from 1 to 3. The top score is 21 and anyone scoring lower than 14 is consider prone to injury due to having a problem with any of the three. Of course, if you are resistant or prone to something, it must be genetics. Apparently collagen and bone density is the big factor hear. Another factor that is always considered when something has gone wrong, is stress. The stress factor in over emphasizing winning, could lead to an increase in injuries, some hypothesize. I looked at one team that was probably under a lot of stress to win, the Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s and compared them with the best team of this past decade the New England Patriots. I looked at it from the standpoint on how many players from each team were able to play every game during the regular season. Now granted, in 1960 the season was only 12 games, but then expanded to 14 games in 61, and for the rest of the decade. The Patriots had to play 16 game seasons. The Packers, averaged 21 players a season that played every game, with their best year being 23 players in 1960 and their worst was 17 players in 1961. For the Patriots of the past decade, they averaged 17 players, who played every game, with their best year being 2016 and 17, where they had 21 players play every game, and their worst year was 2015, with only 13 players playing every game. Despite the fact that we should have more information on the function of the human body, the number of injuries, at least in football, seem to be worse, than they were 50 to 60 years ago.
Nobody seems to be very concerned that injuries seem to be dominating the sport news of today. It seems like work out routines are becoming more and more intense, even though there seems to be more injuries everyday. There was one interesting comment by Zack Greinke when spring training was in full bloom, before the pandemic. On his first outing of the season his fastball velocity was up when compared with other spring trainings in the past. When asked about that Greinke responded, that he was throwing more during the offseason, but worked out less. He also stated that he felt better, by not working out as much. I know this is only one athlete, but it makes you think back to a time in sports, when essentially nobody really “worked out”. They just seemed to play their sport and they played it often. Back in the 20’s and 30’s baseball players almost played the game year around. They barnstormed the south playing games against players of the Negro Leagues. We always talk about the long season in baseball, but players of that era practically played the game year around, with no off season. I still feel the best exercise for golf, is to simply swing the golf club. You do not have to hit a ball, but simply take a club and keep swinging. I am not too sure if isolating on one muscle, or a group of muscles, is all that great for the body, as a whole. I do not know if that is the answer for the injury issue in sports, but I am sure going to watch Zach Greinke this year to see how he does. Stay safe and watch you step.