Stanford University, that perennial hotbed of innovation, does not discover all of its new ideas in the computer lab. As a recent New York Times profile makes clear, Stanford has also developed one of the most unusual strength and conditioning programs in the country for college football players.
The program prizes flexibility over brute strength and mobility over locked bodies. The goal of strength coach Shannon Turley is to minimize injuries and enhance practical strength. But does it work?
From 2006, the year before Turley arrived on the Farm, as Stanford’s campus is known, through last season, the number of games missed because of injury on the two-deep roster dropped by 87 percent. In 2012, only two Cardinal players required season-ending or postseason surgical repair; this year, only one.
The science behind this approach is based largely on stretching, on deep and symmetrical strength exercises, and even on yoga. Plus there’s this:
Turley pays particular attention to his players’ Functional Movement Screen scores. The F.M.S. is a durability index, what Turley calls “a predictive, quantitative analysis of quality of movement.” That is the first test he conducts. It evaluates seven movements and scores players as balanced, functional, overpowered, dysfunctional and injury prone. It shows if a player executes a movement better with his left leg than his right, pointing out asymmetries.
It is a smart approach that has cut down on the sorts of knee surgeries and shoulder surgeries which can plague NFL prospects long before they ever hit the big time. As a San Diego orthopedic surgeon who has spent a lot of time with professional sports teams, I can attest that there is no substitute for enhancing the body’s natural ability to flex and twist without injury. Plus gaining a berth in the Rose Bowl isn’t too shabby either.
If you’d like to learn more about sports injuries, sports surgery and how to maintain an active life, please don’t hesitate to contact the sports medicine experts here today.