All injuries need to be taken serious. No question or grey area there at all. If you roll an ankle, you may need to tape your ankle. Tear your knee up, you may even need crutches or a golf cart to get around. Bang up a shoulder and you wear a sling throughout the day. But when you are concussed, there is no tape, crutch, cart, or sling to show everyone you are healing. When you are in class, your brain is still recovering. When you are at practice, your brain is still healing. A concussion is the only injury that has an impact on both the physical aspect of playing and practicing, plus the negative effects of missing out on homework, school, tests, and other necessary academic evaluations.
Minimizing the sub-concussive forces that reach the brain may have a huge impact on grades in school, and emotional stability with regard to friends, families, teammates, and other relationships. Not to mention, memory or physical functions. Making the time to emphasize strength training of the muscles of the head, neck, and upper back in order to strengthen the muscles that surround the cervical spine and hold the skull and jaw needs to be an almost mandated pre-participation requirement for all sports. One could even understand why it would be useful for non-athletes to train this area of the body too.
Young or not, the brain can be exposed to trauma. The ankle, knees, or shoulder, plus the tissue surrounding these joints can all be replaced and the body will still live and function. But the brain cannot be replaced. There is no surgery for brain reconstruction. We need to evaluate the best practices for preparing this area of the body for the rigors of the games we choose to play and most importantly the game of life. The muscles of the head, neck, and upper back can increase strength when exposed to the proper amount of stress, recovery, and nourishment just like the pec, quad, or calf to name a few. We all need to get stronger from head to toe.
Doug Scott, the Head Strength Coach at The Pingry School, talks about the importance of training the head, neck, and back as it relates to middle school and high school student-athletes on the video below. Listen to his passionate message today.
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