Take heart, New York Giants fans. Like you, new head coach Ben McAdoo is just as frustrated by the Giants’ unwanted reputation of being an injury-prone team, and he’s looking to do something about it that hasn’t been done before under the last two head coaches.
McAdoo told reporters at the combine he is planning to flip the start of the regular season practice week, giving the players off on Monday instead of the usual Tuesday. The apparent hope in doing that is that the players will have the maximum time possible to recover from putting a strain on their joints and muscles during games, thereby eliminating the need for players to have to sit out all or parts of practice during the week.
“Injuries—you have to look at a variety of things that impact injuries. Whether it’s the way we practice, whether it’s the way we hydrate, the way we sleep, the way we recover—you just can’t point to one thing and say that’s going to cure everything as far as the injuries go. But we’re going to look at a variety of things there.”
The Giants’ practice schedule under Tom Coughlin and, before him Jim Fassel, usually had the players the players come in on Mondays for film study, a “corrections” practice and, in some instances, some players would engage in some additional physical activities.
That was followed by a day off on Tuesday, with the new work week commending on Wednesday.
Under McAdoo, the Monday and Tuesday schedule is going to be flipped.
From a recovery standpoint this change certainly can’t hurt. Pick up any fitness magazine or talk to any trainer, and chances are they’ll all preach the benefit of allowing for at least a full day’s recovery after a rigorous workout so as to avoid placing additional stress on the muscles worked.
According to an article by Lance Dalleck of Acefitness.com, failure to allow sufficient recovery after high-intensity aerobic (think springing down a football field) and resistance (think pushing big-bodied opponents around a football field) activities can have an adverse affect on the body (emphasis added):
High-intensity aerobic and resistance exercise can impose considerable damage to skeletal muscle, including the sarcolemma, contractile proteins, and connective tissue (Powers and Howley, 2009). These disturbances result in a diminished capacity to generate peak muscle forces that persists until repair is complete. The muscle damage impairs the ability to transport blood glucose into the skeletal muscle cell, which, in turn, leads to a decreased capacity to replenish glycogen stores (Ivy, 2004). Skeletal muscle damage also leads to soreness and pain.
When one is in pain, it is not uncommon to compromise for the ailing part of the body, be it shifting more weight onto the non-ailing side or changing one’s gait. This in turn puts even more stress on the body and can sometimes lead to additional injuries, such as what happened to receiver Victor Cruz, who per ProFootballTalk,com, admitted that his calf injury was a result of over compensating for his healing right knee.
Despite the players supposedly being in optimal physical condition, it goes without saying that everyone still recovers differently, especially the older a player gets. Whereas a 21-year-old athlete might recover quicker, this due to not having played as long as say a 30-year-old athelte; there is no set formula or timeline given the differences in each athlete.
While it’s still way to soon to determine if McAdoo and new strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman are on to something, it’s clear that the goal is to cut back on the strains and pulls that kept guys out of practice at the start of the work week, perhaps even eliminating the need to have injured guys on a managed schedule.
According to our count, which we compiled from the daily injury reports, last year the various Giants players missed 45 practices throughout the regular season. When key parts of your game plan aren’t able to practice, that leads to a lack of cohesion on the field, another problem for the Giants
If a team is going to be at its best on Sunday, that can’t be allowed to continue. While it’s too soon to say if the idea will help reduce the number of missed practices or injuries that pop up, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.