From the first day Tom Coughlin took the podium as head coach of the Giants, he declared that injuries have been harmful to a football club.
Yet throughout his ten-year tenure, everything from broken bones to soft tissue injuries have popped up at the worst possible times, often knocking out key players for weeks if not entire seasons.
Thanks to their new corporate partnership with Quest Diagnostics, the Giants are hoping to finally get a better handle on the root of those soft tissue injuries, and how to avoid them moving forward.
“Those are the kind of things we want to take a look at,” said Giants Vice President of medical Services Ronnie Barnes of the soft tissue injuries such as groin strains and hamstring pulls.
“Quest has some great ideas about where to look. We haven’t made any decisions about what we’re going to look at, but that’s an area that’s very important to us because although they don’t’ threaten a player’s career, they cause them to miss some games, and that’s disappointing to the player and to the team.”
One of the biggest areas of emphasis Barnes said the team is going to stress to the players this summer is being properly hydrated. To accomplish that, the players will be tested to ensure that they’re properly hydrated; if they are not, Barnes said a notice will be left on their stools at their lockers to give them a heads up.
“Here in the summer before the preseason games on a Friday afternoon, we’re going to test their urine and let them know if they’re dehydrated,” Barnes explained. “So this means going into the game, you won’t be at your best, so start drinking now.”
While the team and Quest Diagnostics are still exploring the various circumstances behind the soft tissue injuries, Barnes noted that one of the first changes that will be implemented will be how the team conducts its annual training camp conditioning drills.
“I’ll point to one specific. Often when you begin training camp, you’ve seen everything from 12-minute runs, to a sprint to hundreds,” Barnes said. “We’re going with a much more gradual approach. I don’t want to spill the beans about how we’re going to train for this test, but it won’t be a vigorous test because that sets the player up for injury later in the week.”
Barnes also noted that there will also be changes made to how the team warms up and cools down before and after a practice and game, saying that the changes will likely be incorporated over time.
Whether those changes actually help the Giants reduce the number of players with soft tissue injuries remains to be seen, but Barnes noted that Coughlin, who hates to see a player injured as much as anyone, is on board with the program.
“He’s very much looking forward to making sure that our athletes are both healthy and able to perform at a very high level both now and in the future.”