Getting better at one’s game and injury prevention are goals of every athlete. These are also the goals of the sports medicine specialists at the Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute. That’s why the Institute has researched and developed a screening tool to assess an athlete’s risk of non-contact sports injury.
In a five-year study by the National Collegiate Athletic Association of student athletes in 25 sports, nearly 69% of sports injuries occurred during practices. This finding suggests that athletes need to improve their strength, conditioning and mechanics to avoid injury.
Trevor Cottrell, Ph.D., CSCS, is director of Human Performance for the Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute. Prior to joining Memorial Hermann, he was a professor and program coordinator of the kinesiology and health promotion degree and human performance training certificate at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada.
“Noncontact injuries generally result from how an athlete plants the body, accelerates, decelerates and changes direction,” said Cottrell
While pre-participation physical exams are fundamental to sports participation for student athletes, Cottrell believes the Institute’s injury risk assessment is extremely useful for athletes of all ages and sports.
The Institute uses a variety of tests to evaluate athletes and assign them an injury risk score. Athletic teams that partner with Memorial Hermann as their health care provider already have access to this testing. Other athletes may undergo this assessment at any of the four Rockets Sports Medicine Institute or the Institute located in the Texas Medical Center, Memorial City, The Woodlands and Sugar Land, as well as the Institute’s Shepherd Square Performance Lab and the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation – Memorial Hermann | Rockets Sports Medicine Institute – Katy in Spring.
“What we’ve done with our research at Memorial Hermann is identify a variety of tests, that when combined, can better predict an athlete’s ability to control forces and move properly,” said Cottrell. “This screening involves a variety of movements that assess strength, flexibility, the ability to move into common sporting positions and body control. Once we determine an athlete’s limitations, we can target training to make improvements that will lower the risk of noncontact injury.”
Oftentimes, athletic training focuses on getting athletes faster through explosive acceleration, rather than on core strength, deceleration, lateral movements, and landing and jumping techniques. Yet, the latter is what helps prevent injury.
Deceleration, for one, places a lot of stress on the body – as much as three to four times one’s body weight. Done properly, deceleration involves coordinating movements, such as bending at the hips, knees and ankles while maintaining one’s center of gravity. Similar principles apply to lateral shuffling, jumping and landing. That’s why practicing and perfecting the proper athletic stances and mechanics of movements is critical to generate and absorb force and, thus, prevent injury.
During Cottrell’s 24-year career in exercise science, he has witnessed countless athletes who have been unable to hold abdominal contractions, bend at the hips, perform lunges and squats, or properly shift their body weight during lateral moves.
In addition to screening athletes for injury risk, the Institute offers a comprehensive suite of performance tests to identify optimum training levels and create a training program that enhances peak performance while reducing the risk of injury. Add individualized strength and conditioning, plus customized nutritional programs, and an athlete gains a winning formula to exercise and refuel more efficiently and compete at higher levels.
For more information on the Rockets Sports Medicine Institute orthopedic doctors or surgeons, treatment for injuries, scheduling Human Performance services, or getting more information about physical therapy, please fill out the form below or call us at (713) 222-2273