Scaring Away Injuries: Randolph Athletes Learn From Fitness Clinic

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Lebanon — Straight leg raises and hurdle steps were just a couple of ways Randolph Union High School athletes were getting a leg up on injury prevention yesterday.

Twenty-six Galloping Ghosts basketball and gymnastics athletes joined Randolph Athletic Director Jamie Kinnarney and boys basketball coach Jeremy Rilling for a trip to KDR Fitness, where owner Ben Dearman and a team of personal trainers conducted a series of functional movement screening tests.

The purpose: Identifying potential areas of weakness in the athletes’ capacities for mobility, balance and strength that can potentially lead to injuries. The students, broken into groups of five, performed standardized drills such as the inline lunge and overhead squat, plus calisthenics put in place by Dearman.

The athletes were scored from 0-3. Zeroes were issued for any exercise in which athletes experienced pain, 1s and 2s were given if there were some signs of imbalance and 3s were given for smooth motions.

Dearman and his team plan to analyze the results of the tests, then confer with the Randolph coaches to recommended exercises that could help stabilize the movement patterns, and prevent injuries this winter.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first high school that has pursued injury prevention (through functional movement screenings) in New Hampshire or Vermont,” said Dearman. “The biggest cause of injuries is imbalance. If you have tightness on your right side, your body is going to lean to your left to compensate. You can have great athletes that play that way and end up hurt. And the thing with the exercises that we’re going to give them is that they only take 10 minutes. They’re just warmup exercises to do before practice.”

The trip was part of an initiative by Kinnarney to engage in proactive approaches which keep athletes on the field or court and away from medical attention. “Hopefully, there will be much less tape used (to patch up sore spots), and they stay on the floor this winter,” the AD said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

The movement exercises were relatively simple. While the inline lunge had athletes go to one knee while attempting to stay centered on a strip of measuring tape, the overhead squat sent them to the ground with a wooden bar overhead. The hurdle step had them step over a rubber strip positioned so that the foot had to raise as high as the knee.

“It’s stuff everybody can do,” Dearman said. “Any time you sit down, that’s a squat. When you walk up stairs, that’s a hurdle. We just make it a little harder because we have (the bar on the overhead squat) and things like that.”

The non-standardized exercises Dearman asked for during round two of the screenings included simple jumps — one two-legged, one single — and upper body exercises to determine strength, stability and mobility.

“With the jumps, we can tell specifically if someone is more prone to an ACL tear,” Dearman said. “If the knees come down in (inwardly), there is much more of a risk.”

Athletic movement deficiencies generally develop not on the field of play, Dearman said, but in patterns associated with everyday life.

“Wearing your backpack over one shoulder all the time is going to cause imbalance,” he said. “Playing video games for four hours per day is going to cause issues. Our bodies aren’t meant to be sitting all the time, they’re meant to be engaged in dynamic movement.”

Former Randolph girls soccer and lacrosse coach Tina Scheindel, currently the school’s technical coordinator, is a KDR client and helped man several of the stations yesterday. Scheindel wishes this type of functional movement screens had been available when she was a coach as well as a soccer player.

“I tore my MCL more than 20 years ago playing soccer, and it’s still weak,” she said. “I never went into rehabilitation and I never did this these kinds of (preventative measures). Even when I was coaching (in the mid-1990s), if someone got a sore ankle or sore joint, we wrapped it in tape and that was supposed to fix it.”

Out of the final results, Dearman and his staff plan to identify the three most common deficiencies and offer exercises to help eradicate them. That was welcome news for the Ghosts on hand, many of whom raised their hands at the start of the course when Dearman asked if they’d ever suffered from a sports-related injury.

“Some of the tests were hard, some of them hurt,” said Randolph junior Eric Hildenbrand, a shooting guard on the basketball team. “But it makes a lot of sense to learn about what areas we need to work on.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.