Something seems fishy to me, and it's not that I'm writing an article that I'm probably wholly unqualified to write.
I've been scratching my head for two years now (or is it more already?), essentially since the new CBA went into effect. Now I will say this up front:
I understand that we all have a tendency to selectively remember facts when it suits a particular idea or theory we have taken a liking to. I really try to avoid the unavoidable, but at least I know that some kind soul here at BtB can rally for some truth in the comments on this post.
But seriously - have injuries increased in either frequency or severity since the new CBA went into effect?
At first, I was curious about several things following Crawford's injury, which was the final straw, so to speak.
1) Was I just paying less attention before three years ago as to the number of major injuries starting early in camp or during the season? (I can say yes to that, unequivocally, but it may be irrelevant.)
2) How does a strength and conditioning program (namely ours, but others also) account for the change from off-season work to football game form?
3) Do the limits imposed on training and activity by the CBA end up being boon or doom for the players, in practical application?
I started by asking some medical folks I know about the possibility that a sudden change in habits could cause failure. For instance:
This guy is a gym rat. Every day I walk past the weight room, he is in there early, and in there late. He works harder on the weights than anyone.
Ten minutes into his first true pinned-back-ears, balls-out running, he tears a major tendon. Why? Dumb luck?
Could it, in theory, partly be caused by the sudden change in stress put on his soft tissue structures? Is it fair to ask what happens when you go from hard weight work over say, a six month period, and then revert to a fully different set of stresses?
This immediately caused me to wonder about the vaunted process of Coach Woicik. In my ten minutes of interweb Hardy Boys work, I managed to uncover this little gem, [sic] and all:
Sorry, had to. The best I could find was the book that some of those quotes were pulled from, and a few references to plyometrics. Now to me, the idea of plyometrics makes all kinds of sense when applied to the rigors of professional football. After all, the communists developed it. Just kidding. But they did.
I remember reading a quote the other day, possibly from a Broaddus piece at the mothership, where someone said "We go to training camp to find out who will get hurt."
That was not a particularly recent quote, if memory serves. It did make me wonder if this is just more of the same, or if there is yet some little gremlin hiding in the shadows, perhaps even a gluttonous mogwai with insomnia.
I think it stands to reason that professional trainers at this level of sports would have thought about this already. God, at least I hope they have. So my next step is this:
If it is reasonable to think that conditioning programs account for stress changes and injury rates have not remained constant, has the change in the CBA been a factor?
That's a big 'and', and I hope some stat guru can enlighten me by finding a nifty way to graph out injuries over say, the last decade, to see a comparison. I'm hard pressed for writing and research time over the next couple months, more's the pity.
I'm really dying to know whether the comparatively lightened load of the current training camp system has any valid, measurable effects yet. I know stats are always prey to molding and conjecture, but I want to see if a case can be made either way.
I'm willing to bet the CBA issue was done to death, and then done into dust, but we are starting to get further out from the change. If nothing else changes, and the issues cannot be identified, are we looking forward to losing players for the season every camp, every season?
I'm getting tired of seeing players lost for the season (our camp and others) on day one. Something's gotta give.