Are College Football Player’s Bodies Being Abused?

I came across an interesting article today that addressed the question of whether College Football players are abusing their bodies.  It caught my eye because I was a college football player at Purdue University before playing pro in the CFL in the early 90′s.  At Purdue, we had the best, cutting edge training, equipment, nutrition and coaching.  We played big time programs and teams at Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Washington.  Our success was measured by wins and losses… and by how many players and coaches got to the professional ranks following their collegiate careers.  During my 4 year career at Purdue, I had the privilege of playing with, and against, some of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Read the article below “Are College Football Players Bodies Being Abused?”

Although we had the best, most up to date training techniques at Purdue, it was a time when the training programs for football players were dominated by weight lifting programs based around the Big Four lifts (Bench Press, Squats, Deadlifts and Power Cleans).  Functional fitness training was a concept that I had never heard of at the time.  We lifted like “weight lifters” with little thought of whether we would actually NEED to use the specific lifting movements on the field.  At 20 years of age, I could deadlift 565 lbs, squat 350 lbs for 35 repetitions and I could power clean 300 lbs.  Impressive stuff, considering I wasn’t a weight lifter, but, a football player.  Like any 20 year old, I never thought about the long term effect on my body of all the heavy lifting and the pounding that I was putting myself through day in and day out.

The article that I read today speaks about the need for players to be able to seek a second opinion when they are injured besides the physician that is working FOR the University and the team.  It also speaks to the fact that most 18- 19+ year old players are already nursing long term, chronic injuries from heavy lifting.  It credits performance trainers that work with players and focus more on “functional” type workouts instead of lifting heavy all of the time.  In this case, functional workouts would include things like single leg body weight squats, stability ball core exercises and compound lifts using things like medicine balls, kettlebells or TRX suspension trainers.

At All Canadian Fitness, we design ALL of our programs first and foremost with the idea of making them as “functional” as possible.  This means LOTS of carryover to real life (or to your sport). 

I wish that I had known about this when I was a kid.  Today, I deal with pain almost daily from all the years of heavy trauma to my body.  Recently, I heard from a former teammate of mine from Purdue that had an epidural to help him cope with back pain from years of repeated, HEAVY lifting!

Keep in mind… your training should be making you BETTER.  It should make you feel good, not bad.  It should have carryover to your daily life and to your activities.  Finally, it shouldn’t be done for immediate gain… if it is going to make you suffer later on.

Don’t misunderstand… you SHOULD be working hard… and lifting heavy.  Just not all the time.  Plan out a progression that will move you to a specific goal.  The progression should include more intense, harder periods of work as well as easier, recovery type phases.  It should also take into account what you do in a day and what your activities are.  THIS is what is meant by “functional” fitness.

If you are wondering what College Football players might have to do with YOUR fitness plan, remember we are all made of the same stuff.  Muscle, blood, bone, ligaments and tendons.  If you are 20 and abuse them, you’ll pay the price at some point.  If you’re 45 and exercising for general fitness (or for recreational sport), the same abuse will result in the same price.

Ernie Schramayr–  Owner All Canadian Fitness

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