The most recent injuries to garner media attention are the preseason ACL and Achilles tendon injuries suffered in the National Football League.  One reason for the increased scrutiny is that both these injuries are season ending.  The recovery times for the two injuries may not be the only thing they have in common.  Although the tissues are very different, the cause can be exactly the same: failure to train the “front butt”.

Examining the Achilles Hip

Over 30 years ago, Gary Gray wrote an article called the ACHILLES HIP which chronicled the biomechanical rationale and strategies for reducing Achilles injuries by training the hips.

The “front butt” is the anterior-medial muscle complex and joint structures of the hip.  The posterior-lateral hip muscles are referred to as the “back butt”.  The majority of training movements and exercises load the “back butt”.  These exercises include:

  • Squatting
  • Lifting
  • Jumping,
  • Running

All of these exercises require great power from the posterior-lateral hip muscles.  Strength, power, and endurance in these muscles are essential.  The big “back butt” and the core provide the foundation for athletic excellence. Reducing injuries requires a better training program to expand the capabilities of the “back butt”.

Why it’s important to train the “front butt”

A powerful “back butt” is necessary but not sufficient to reduce injuries.  During functional movements, these muscle resources may be inhibited, leaving the rest of the lower extremity at risk.  When the functional movements required during a sport drive the hips into extension, abduction or external rotation, the functional power of the “back butt” muscles is reduced.  As the resources that the hip can contribute to the leg diminishes, more strain is placed on the muscles of the knee and foot/ankle region.  If these regions can’t handle the load, then knee ligaments tear and Achilles tendon ruptures (and tears of the hip labrum) can occur under the same circumstances for the same reasons: failure to train the “front butt”.

With a few notable exceptions, training programs designed by professional sports teams don’t incorporate “front butt” training.  “Front butt” training requires a philosophy based on what we call “causative cure”.  Instead of avoiding the joint positions and motions that cause injuries, a “causative cure” strategy would encourage these motions.

The Functional Approach to Injury Prevention

The Principles of Applied Functional Science allow for the design of training progressions and sequencing of movements that drive the athletes into the movements that are deemed “dangerous”.  These joint motions are utilized (instead of avoided) to turn on the muscles through the proprioceptors without conscious thought.  Because these progressions are based on success, the body learns to decelerate the motions and positions that might cause injury and successfully transform that deceleration into an acceleration that avoids the injury and contributes to the athletic performance. 

What are your thoughts on current NFL injuries? Leave your comments below!

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