The problem with most football workouts is they try to do too many things. In their efforts to make sure each workout includes exercises for upper-body strength, lower-body power, speed and endurance, some coaches and players forget about safety.
Below are five areas that need to be strengthened in the interests of safety. By regularly attending to them in your football workouts, you will protect yourself from most common injuries. You’ll be able to stay out on the field longer and make more plays to help your team win games.
The most dangerous injury in sports is a concussion. Always wear a functioning, well-fitting helmet and mouth guard; and always tackle with your head up. Never lead with the top of your helmet. Another crucial aspect of concussion prevention, one that’s often overlooked, is to strengthen the neck. Most concussions occur when the head is moving back and forth. A strong neck helps resist that movement. Using a partner, a weight harness or a machine, perform neck exercises to the left, right, forward and back, gradually adding more resistance in a strength building progression. Check out a complete neck workout.
Stingers are among the most common injuries in football. They occur after getting hit. Symptoms are tightness in the neck, a tingling feeling in the arms and limited range of motion. To prevent them, strengthen the big muscles around your neck: the traps. Use Barbell Shrugs, DB Shrugs and Prone Dumbbell Shrugs.
Muscle imbalances are another major risk factor for injuries. Muscles work together and against each other; so when the muscles are unequal in strength, the weaker one is more prone to injury. A strong quadriceps muscle can pull a weak hamstring muscle so hard that it tears. Perform as many exercises for the back of your body as you do for the front. Go with Upright Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Hamstring Curls and other exercises that work the back of your body.
Lack of flexibility can lead to muscle pulls, tears and strains. Don’t let them happen to you. End every workout with ten minutes of static stretching, and bring every exercise through a full range of motion. For example, when squatting, go all the way down to parallel to promote flexibility in your hips. Browse STACK’s Flexibility Guide for a full list of stretches.
A pre-workout dynamic warm-up helps prevent injuries by warming up your muscles and getting them ready to perform. A proper warm-up involves all the movements you plan to do in your workout. Ultimately, it will also improve your performance on the field. Always perform a dynamic warm-up before exercise or competition. Learn how to build your own dynamic warm-up.