Fantasy Football Week 1 Injury Recap

What an exciting first week of the NFL season! We saw some high scoring games with fast paced finishes and were treated to some young QB’s really coming onto the scene (looking at you Jameis, Carson, and Jimmy G).

However, as is the case with every NFL week, we had injuries to key guys, ranging from minor scrapes to likely season-enders. Today, we’ll look at some key injuries from Week One and try to speculate on where to go from here.

Keenan Allen, WR (knee injury, suspected ACL tear): Allen left Sunday’s game with a right knee injury, which occurred while trying to plant and cut to his left while running a route. The injury appeared to be very consistent with an ACL tear, although no confirmation will be given until further imaging is performed. Possible involvement of the MCL has not been ruled out yet either.

The expectation is that he suffered a torn ACL, and if that’s the case, will miss the rest of the 2016 season. With nearly a full year between now and the start of next season, he should be ready for the start of the 2017 year. Consider his lengthy injury history when evaluating him next year, as he has not been able to stay on the field for a full season as he has played 15, 14, and 8 games, respectively, since coming into the league.

Demaryius Thomas, WR (hip injury): After Thursday’s win over the Panthers, Thomas had an MRI done on his left hip and was sent to see a specialist. It’s unclear what exactly the injury is, but it appears it could be related to joint pathology, possibly involving his labrum or the hip joint/articular cartilage itself. Another possibility could be a core muscle injury, commonly referred to as a sports hernia, which could involve the hip flexor, abdominal musculature, and/or hip adductors.

At this point in time, there’s no word on possible missed time and we truly don’t have a clear idea of what the injury is. Those possible injuries I mentioned above have numerous outcomes, from managing the injury on a weekly basis up to missing an extended period of time. We’ll have to wait until more information is available before we know what the future holds for Thomas.

Russell Wilson, QB (ankle injury): Wilson injured his ankle during Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, although he did not miss any time due to the injury. He hobbled around the rest of the game and appeared to be limited by the ankle injury. The mechanism of injury (ankle caught with lower leg rotated) is consistent with a high ankle sprain, which involves the ligaments and connective tissue that stabilizes the two lower leg bones. It’s not uncommon for a guy to get taped up and play the rest of the game through this type of injury, but his response once things settle and his adrenaline wears off will be key.

Expect to hear reports of Wilson wearing a walking boot during the week as a way to offload stress being placed on the injured area. He will receive, most likely, round the clock treatment and have his practice time cut down, which shouldn’t alarm anyone until we get to Thursday/Friday. Nevertheless, this will be a situation that bears watching because he’s the type of guy that can sit all week and still play Sunday, so having someone behind him on your roster would be prudent, but this decision may drag into the weekend. There’s nothing that points to Wilson missing an extended period of time with the information that we have thus far.

Rob Gronkowski, TE (hamstring strain): At this point in time, based on how much time he’s missed thus far, he’s dealing with a mid grade hamstring strain that the team and Gronk just felt like wasn’t worth risking setback, especially with a cross country flight. With the next three games at home, it’ll make for a predictable rehab and practice schedule, which gives him a chance of playing this Sunday. Expect him to be limited all week and this to possibly be another weekend decision heading into Sunday’s contest.

Julio Jones, WR (ankle sprain): Jones suffered a left ankle sprain during Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, which now gives him matching sprains on both ankles. Jones has a history of foot/ankle issues, but he’s demonstrated in the past that he has the ability to rest during the week and still get himself ready for Sunday. With each ankle sprain, the ligaments are placed under greater stress, causing remodeling and changes in the stability of the ligaments themselves. When a player has multiple sprains of the same joint, it starts to get harder and harder to maintain stability, leaving someone more prone to sprains in the future. That’s something that bears watching as we move forward as Jones and the training staff will do a ton of work to stabilize the ankles, treat the remaining symptoms, and try to allow him to be as unrestricted as possible come Sunday. At this point, expect him to play week 2.

Theo Riddick, RB (head injury): Riddick left Sunday’s game vs the Colts with a suspected concussion. Riddick was able to return to the game on Sunday in the middle of the 4th quarter. However, he may have to go through the concussion protocol this week if there is any return of symptoms post game. Monitor his practice participation this week to determine his availability for week 2.

As always, find me on Twitter at @z_dahdul where I’ll provide real time analysis of key fantasy-related injuries. Also, use the hashtag #AskDrZee and I’ll help provide insight specific to your fantasy squad to help you plan your lineup for the upcoming week!

Week 1 Fantasy Football Injury Report

Tomorrow marks the official opening weekend of the new NFL season and with it comes 5 months of fantasy football goodness. With every new season comes new injuries, which can take a promising draft and turn it into mush in the blink of an eye.

Each week, we’ll go around the league and analyze the Friday injury reports and discuss what the designations mean for each player’s availability this week and beyond.

And just in case you weren’t already aware, the NFL has changed its rules on how teams must report each player on their respective injury report. The designations are as follows:

Questionable (Q): The most ambiguous of all the designations, this essentially means that a player is uncertain to play in the coming week. This can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, but there is no scale or percentage likelihood that a guy will suit up. Because the league decided to get rid of the Probable tag, any player who has uncertainty about their availability will fall into this category, which muddies the waters a bit for us.

Doubtful (D): This means that the player is unlikely to play. This should not change much from how it was used in the past, as players who were listed her typically did not end up playing on Sunday or Monday.

Out (O): Pretty straightforward: he’s not playing.

Essentially, I’ll be breaking down each offensive position (sorry to my IDP friends) and giving you the player’s injury, practice participation for the week, and what it means for that week’s availability. However, if relevant, I’ll give details on multi-week injuries and update them when new information becomes available.

As always, if you have any questions mid week about possible waiver wire pickups or need clarification on injuries as they happen, feel free to find me on twitter at @z_dahdul and use the hashtag #AskDrZee.

Here’s to an injury-free Week 1 and beyond. Good luck to everyone!

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles (D, post ACL reconstruction): Charles has been back at practice for some time now, but appears to still be working his way back from offseason ACL reconstruction. Although healthy from a tissue-healing standpoint, there are a multitude of factors that play a role in return to sport following this injury, both physical and mental hurdles that need to be cleared. Charles just seems like he isn’t fully there yet, which doesn’t imply he had a setback or is “behind schedule”.

Expect his status to be handled on a week-to-week basis until both he and the training staff feel like he’s ready to get back on the field. Until then, some combination of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West will be used until Charles is ready to roll, but all signs point to him missing Week 1.

Thomas Rawls (not listed on injury report, offseason ankle surgery): Rawls not being on the injury report is great news for his owners and week 1 availability, but the fact that Christine Michael is listed ahead of him on the depth chart speaks to the Seahawks most likely easing Rawls back into action. Rawls has appeared to recover well, overall, from off-season ankle surgery due to an ankle fracture and ligament reconstruction.

While he may need a few weeks to get adjusted to game speed, he is well beyond the 4-6 month recovery time frame and should be healthy at this point. He may split carries early on, but there’s no reason to think Rawls won’t get the lion’s share once he shows the Seahawks he’s fully recovered.

Chris Ivory (Q, calf strain): Ivory was a limited participant in practice each day this week, hence the questionable tag. However, this has never appeared to be a serious muscle strain and he is expected to suit up and split carries with T.J. Yeldon. Ivory does have a history of minor nagging leg injuries in the past, which is something that should be noted. But this injury in particular appears to be minor in nature and shouldn’t affect his playing time.

Jerick McKinnon (Q, foot injury): Coach Zimmer indicated that this injury is minor and that McKinnon should be ok moving forward. He was a limited participant on both Wednesday and Friday, sitting out Thursday’s practice. This appears to be more precautionary than anything else as McKinnon is expected to play on Sunday.

Matt Jones (Q, AC joint sprain): After injuring his shoulder during the second preseason game, Jones has been held out of game action heading into the start of the season. This was done both as an opportunity for optimal healing time, but also to prevent any unnecessary contact that could set him back even further. Originally described as a low grade acromioclavicular joint sprain (commonly referred to as a separated shoulder), he was able to return to full practice participation this week and is expected to play despite the questionable tag.

Kenneth Dixon (O, sprained MCL): Dixon is expected to miss 2-4 weeks after spraining his medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Jay Ajayi (O, does not appear to be injury related)

Wide Receivers

 Julio Jones (not listed on injury report, ankle): Although he was initially limited on Wednesday in practice dealing with a minor ankle sprain, Jones returned to full participation on Thursday and Friday, indicating that he is expected to play. The ankle sprain was considered minor from the get go and all indications are that Jones is ready to go for Week 1.

Will Fuller (not listed on injury report, hamstring): Limited on both Wednesday and Thursday in practice, Fuller returned to a full participant on Friday and was subsequently removed from the injury report. While we’re well aware that hamstring injuries can have a tendency to linger, his full participation on Friday should indicate that the team is not concerned about his available one bit. Expect him to be a full go on Sunday.

Golden Tate (Q, ankle): This tag is likely more related to the fact that he was limited in practice on Wednesday dealing with a minor ankle injury, but after being a full participant in practice both Thursday and Friday, there should be no doubt that he’ll be ready to go on Sunday. Also consider that Tate just doesn’t miss games (four straight seasons and counting) and it’s easy to think that this questionable tag is a product of the new designation system.

Kevin White (Q, hamstring): This one is a bit more concerning that the other WRs on this list, as White didn’t pop up on the injury report until Thursday, when he was limited in practice. He followed that up with a limited participation on Friday, apparently dealing with a hamstring strain. This is important because White has yet to play a regular season game after having a rod inserted into his tibia due to a stress fracture. Compensatory injuries, if that’s what this is, are never good signs, especially when you consider how long awaited his debut has been. I do think he plays this weekend, but it’s hard to expect him to play at full strength or get a full complement of snaps considering how cautious the Bears have been with him. This one bears watching the inactive lists tomorrow morning.

Josh Doctson (Q, Achilles injury): While Doctson was able to put in a full practice on Saturday, he has been hampered by a Achilles injury for over a month now. The fact that he was limited all week doesn’t bode well for him being ready for a full complement of snaps on Monday. While he could still play, this being a Monday game and his involvement in the offense being unknown, it’s best to look elsewhere for week 1 and see where he stands heading into week 2.

Chris Hogan (Q, shoulder injury): Despite being a full participant in practice all week, we find Hogan on the injury report due to a shoulder issue from earlier in the preseason. Barring any reports of setbacks over the weekend, expect Hogan to play and be 100%.

Malcolm Mitchell (Q, dislocated elbow): Mitchell suffered a dislocated elbow during the Patriots preseason opener. While he is likely to wear a brace on the elbow once he returns to the field, a full week of limited participation leaves his availability in doubt. He seems to be progressing well and was given an initial time line of 4 weeks for return to field, but with question marks at QB and TE heading into week 1, it’s hard to justify taking a chance on him this early in the season unless it’s a pure contrarian move. Check the inactive list prior to kickoff, but note that this game is the Sunday nighter.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (O, hamstring strain): While it initially appeared that he would be ready to go come week 1, it looks like this hamstring strain that he’s been dealing with for weeks just hasn’t gone away. While his missing week 1 hurts, it’s the smart move and will give him the best chance of preventing a nagging or recurrent injury as the season progresses. He is truly a week to week injury at this point, so we’ll have to monitor his practice participation next week and see how he progresses. Stay tuned.

Jimmy Graham (Q, off-season patellar tendon repair): A full participant all week, Graham looks like he is trending towards playing week 1. Graham has not seen real game action since suffering the injury, so expecting him to a have a full workload from the get go is a stretch. While I do expect him to play on Sunday, it’s still prudent to keep expectations in check as this still is one of the most difficult injuries for an NFL player to bounce back from. My expectation is that he’ll be eased into his workload on a week to week basis until he demonstrates he can handle the demands of the position without incident. But for the sake of this week, if you need him, he should active and is expected to play.

Dennis Pitta (Q, fractured finger, hip): What a story Pitta would be if he is ready to roll week 1. He has suffered multiple hip dislocations the last two seasons and his career was written off by many. However, here he is, expected to play week 1 after being a full participant in practice all week. While we have to temper expectations and not compare him to the Pitta we remember, if he can stay healthy (a big IF) he is a favorite target of Joe Flacco and can be a sneaky low end TE1/high end TE2 as we get deeper into the season. Keep on eye on him as we move forward.

Eric Ebron (Q, ankle sprain): Full participant in practice all week, Ebron seems like he is healthy and ready to make his return to the field after spraining his ankle at the beginning of training camp. All signs point to him being out there this week as he’s widely expected to play a prominent role in the Lions’ offense this season.

Tyler Eifert (O, off-season ankle surgery): Having reconstructed the deltoid ligament of his ankle in the off-season (inside of the ankle, less commonly injured) and given a rough timeline of 5-6 months, it’s expected that Eifert will be out at least the first 3 weeks of the season. His return is fluid, however, and it bears watching as we move from week to week.


Andrew Luck (not listed on injury report, shoulder): Luck made a short appearance on the injury report as a limited participant early in the week, but it appears to be precautionary at this point as he is returned to a full participant on Friday. Luck has been plagued with a shoulder issue dating back to last season, but with a full off-season of rest and rehab, he should be 100% heading into a brand new season.

Tony Romo (O, fractured lumbar vertebra): Out with a fractured L1 vertebral body, Romo is expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks and possibly up to 10 weeks.

That’s it for this week. Again, find me on twitter at @z_dahdul for all injury updates and don’t forget to check the inactive lists tomorrow morning 90 minutes before kickoff!

Giving the gift of HOPE

Personally, I spend an abundance of times trying to learn how to be the best therapist I can be. I read articles. I watch webinars. I follow a lot of extremely smart people on social media (sup Twitter). I think there are a lot of therapists out there that go out of their way to continue growing as clinicians. To be honest, the field of physical therapy attracts the types of people who want to help their patients at all costs, so the fact that most PTs do this is not a surprise.

The other day, I was thinking about something one of my patients said to me last week and it’s really resonated with me. She was discussing how did after her first post-evaluation follow up visit, saying her hip felt much better. She spoke about how she doesn’t feel like her hip is “catching” as often and that she feels like she’s getting stronger.

This was all fantastic to hear, but she finished her subjective with the statement that has resonated with me:

“You’ve given me hope”.

Think about that statement for a second. It caught me off guard at the time, because I typically expect the specifics when speaking to my patients about how their treatment is coming along. About how they have less (hopefully) pain, feel stronger, have better mobility, etc. But that powerful word she used has stuck with me: Hope.

So when I saw her again, after a period of reflection, I asked her what it was about our time together that gave her hope. I wanted to learn. I wanted to know what it was about our interaction that gave her this powerful feeling. She responded pretty simply (I’m paraphrasing): You sat and listened to me, let me tell you my story, my fears, what I want out of this process. And after you listened, you explained things in a way that made sense and made me feel like “I’m going to through this”.

Lost in all the time I’ve spent learning new manual interventions or coming up with different exercises to implement with my patients were the development of my “soft skills” (admittedly, I hate this term, but here we are).

I really subscribe to the notion that patients respond best to PTs who they truly like, PTs who they feel genuinely care about their well being. It really is that simple. Now, there are times where I’ll have patients tell me that they appreciate how much attention I pay to them and how specific I am with interventions, but at the end of the day, if they thought I was a dick or felt like I didn’t listen to them, I don’t think I’d get nearly the type of buy in that I do.

But these “soft skills” are fluid, ever changing skills. It’s not as simple as either you got or you don’t. We must hone these skills. We must never stop learning new approaches to patient interaction. And most importantly, we must put these skills into practice every single day. Because your knowledge base and clinical expertise, in my opinion, will only get you so far. If the most important person in the patient-clinician relationship (hint, it’s the patient) doesn’t buy into YOU, then your “expertise” doesn’t mean a thing.

3 Ways to Avoid Injury Busts During Your Fantasy Football Draft

Every year, just a week or two before the NFL season begins, millions of people sit in front of computers or meet up with their buddies in order to do something that will dictate the next four months of their lives: Draft their fantasy football team. There are tons of different strategies, whether it’s the new Zero RB approach, no QBs until round 8, or the tried and true best player available strategy. But oftentimes, your approach really doesn’t mean anything if your fantasy team comes down with the sickness of all sicknesses: the Injury Bug.

Many people may read an article or two about big players coming back from injury or sleepers who could take advantage of an injury-prone player ahead of them on the depth chart. But one injury-related strategy gets overlooked all the time and it could make or break your season. What strategy is that?

Injury Pattern Recognition

As a physical therapist (PT), I spend my days helping clients recover from injuries/surgeries, manage pain, optimize movement, and, ultimately, return to doing the things they love. However, one major part of a PT’s job that often gets forgotten is injury prevention. We spend years honing our skills in order to identify risk factors and impairments that could predispose people to injury.

One way of doing so is by recognizing patterns. This pattern recognition is crucial to effectively and efficiently correct these risk factors before they lead to injury. And I believe this skill can translate into finding value in your drafts while also avoiding taking risks that just aren’t worth the ROI.

So, without further adieu, here are the top 3 things skilled drafters should do in order to help prevent coming down with the injury bug.

#1 : Target players two seasons removed from surgery

This one comes with a bit of a caveat, as not all surgeries are created equal. Injuries like patellar and achilles tendon tears fall into a category of their own due to their history of severely limiting football players even after their first incident. However, with many other surgeries, a player’s fantasy stats tend to decline slightly the year after surgery, only to spike again to more “normal for that player” levels in the seasons that follow.  I bring this up because we have guys such as Jordy Nelson and Le’Veon Bell who are returning from serious knee injuries that required surgical reconstruction, both of whom are going the first two rounds of most drafts.

Now, by no means am I saying you should completely avoid taking these guys. Guys like Adrian Peterson have shown us that anything is possible with these remarkable athletes. However, I do think we have to temper expectations a bit, especially early in the season, as it takes time for guys to get comfortable with their movement patterns and build confidence in their legs. Remember, these players are spending month after month re-learning how to walk and run and regaining strength and motion they had in abundance just last year. This takes time and we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t take that into consideration.

One other consideration with players coming back from ACL surgery is how far removed they are post surgery. A lot of research has come out that has shown that waiting at least 9 months post ACL reconstruction can significantly reduce the risk of re-injury. So a guy like Nelson, who tore his ACL almost 11 months ago will, statistically, have a lower likelihood of re-tearing his ACL vs some one who suffered their injury during Week 5 of the season like Jamaal CharlesJust another thing to keep in mind.

So, who are some guys that fall into this category that we should keep an eye on heading into draft season?

  • Dez Bryant: Obviously, he’s not a sleeper, but since he played last season following injury, I’m counting this as season two post injury. He’s poised for a huge bounce back year.
  • LeSean McCoy: I know, he’s been an injury risk in the past. However, he suffered a hamstring strain before last season even started, tried to play through it, and was never the same as the injury lingered all season. He’s reportedly healthy heading into this season and should be good to go in an improving Buffalo offense.
  • Dennis PittaThis is a deep reach, but he did miss all of last season following two hip dislocations and appears to be showing glimpses of the potential he had prior to injury. He’s currently not even being chosen in most drafts, so this wreaks of a super low risk, high reward pick
  • Michael FloydHe suffered three dislocated fingers that needed surgical repair prior to last season. He didn’t seem to hit his stride until much later in the season, but consistency was a bit of an issue. However, in this potent Cardinals offense with plenty of passes to go around and an ADP making him the 26th WR off the board (according to Fantasy Pros), there could be some value to be had.

#2: Avoid Overpaying for the Dreaded Re-Injury

We’ve seen guys suffer the same type of injury over and over again, year after year. Sam Bradford and his oh-so-fragile knees. Jordan Cameron and his concussions. Arian Foster and his…..everything. We know better, but keep getting burned by convincing ourselves that this year will be different.

What’s worse is when we reach for guys who are not only prone to injury, but who are coming back from the SAME INJURY that they dealt with in the past. Re-injury rates will increase more often than not in two very clear cut scenarios: Coming back from injury too soon AND recurrence of pathology to the same structures. There’s just no way around this. How else do you explain Tony Romo injuring the same clavicle (collar bone) on three separate occasions? Or Jamaal Charles tearing his ACL in both his right and left knees in a 5 year span? Are they just the unluckiest guys in the world?

The involved structure (regardless of tissue type) weakens with injury. On some occasions, if the injury is minor in nature and enough time is allowed for proper healing, nothing lingers and that player never thinks about it again. However, with the pressure to return to sport on these million dollar athletes, proper healing time is not always achieved, leaving the player susceptible for re-injury or compensation (more to come on this).

This comes down to a risk/reward analysis. Would I take Charles in the mid to late 1st round with his injury history, being 30 years old, and two capable backs (Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware) behind him? Not a chance. But if he slips to the late 2nd round because everyone is spooked off? I just may take that chance because the value provided in a best case scenario is off the charts.

Take your time and keep this in mind when considering drafting guys in the first couple rounds. It’s just not worth it to take unnecessary risks early in the draft when there are guys with very similar value and no significant injury risks to worry about available. Also, don’t forget about the value that can be had by drafting the backups of these injury prone players later in drafts, as this could be a sneaky way to take advantage of a star with injury issues.

#3: Watch for Compensatory Injuries Following Surgery

Many people were burned last year thinking that Victor Cruz wouldn’t skip a beat upon his return from a patellar tendon repair. However, during camp, he began to have issues with a calf strain that lingered for weeks. Although all the focus was on how his knee was healing post surgery and whether he’d be ready from a timeline standpoint, the calf strain was not talked about enough. Why did the strain develop? How serious was the strain?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself when you consider drafting someone coming off major surgery. It’s very common for players to compensate as they go through their rehabilitation, which makes the presence of a skilled physical therapist during the process that much more important. Being that PTs are the “movement experts”, our job is to make sure that a player restores their optimal movement patterns and these inefficiencies are identified and corrected early on during their rehab.

In Cruz’s case, players coming back from patellar tendon repairs already have a tough time without the presence of a compensation, so developing this calf strain on top of it was the nail in the coffin for his 2015 season as it required surgical intervention. This is obviously a worst case scenario, but you see how the initial surgery wasn’t even the primary issue anymore, showing how important avoiding compensatory injuries can be.

As you head into your drafts as week 1 nears, do a google search about each player coming off some type of major injury and see if there are any mentions of missing time due to “soreness”, “tightness”, or “discomfort” in a region of the body other than what was originally injured (Obviously, if they mention any of those terms about the original injury, take caution). This will give you insight into how the player has been recovering and will allow you to make a much more informed decision about that player’s prospects for the upcoming season.

If you can follow this advice and avoid making a critical mistake in your drafts, you’ll give yourself a leg up on all of the other teams in your league because I can assure you 99% of your league isn’t taking these things into consideration. So do yourself a favor and be the 1%. You’ll thank me later.


Find all of Dr. Ziad Dahdul’s work at where he serves as Injury Analyst

Find Dr. Dahdul on Twitter at z_dahdul, where he provides injury analysis in real time and will answer all of your fantasy injury questions!

What Does Evidence Based Practice Really Mean?

Social media is essentially the library of the 21st century, allowing us to accumulate knowledge and better ourselves as clinicians at the touch of a button. But, at the same time, it is a very deep rabbit hole that is extremely hard to navigate. We live in a time where you can find blog posts, watch Instagram or Snapchat videos, and find links on Twitter 24/7, 365. And for the most part, this is a great thing.

However, it appears that with more and more platforms available for people to express their ideas, it becomes harder to wade through the muck because it can be overwhelming at times. I know I’ve seen a ton of exercises and interventions via social media that I now utilize on a daily basis. Are these exercises based on evidence? Not really. Is the self-mob following the convex-concave rule for the targeted joint? Probably, but I’d follow up with my own question, Does it matter?

Nevertheless, we use what gets us results, and I’ve found some amazing interventions on social media and I plan on using them irregardless of whether there’s research to back it up or not.

Point is, if we only utilize interventions and exercises that are validated with randomized controlled trials or meta analyses, we’re limiting ourselves tremendously and, to be quite honest, probably all delivering the same level of service on a daily basis. Evidence is important to use as a guiding principle when educating the population on incidence of pathology, providing causation/correlation for risk factors to a specific disease/condition, and so on. But what we forget to lean on too often is the fact that there are clinicians out there with years of experience treating tens of thousands of patients and have seen first hand, in the trenches, what’s effective and what’s not. And if we ignore the knowledge that’s being shared with us just because there isn’t evidence behind it, we’re really doing our patients a disservice. Also, evidence tends to be significantly behind current practice and really just needs time to catch up.

I’m not here to prove that evidence doesn’t matter and that the literature is pointless. Far from it. I have changed as a clinician every year since I began practicing 6 years ago. I don’t do half of the things I learned in school for a variety of reasons, but one main reason is that I’ve learned and seen interventions that just work better for ME. And if I can provide effective care in a more efficient manner, I have to do it. There are so many innovative clinicians out there and I wouldn’t be challenging myself to be a better PT if I sat and waited for the evidence to catch up.

So my advice: if you see a blog post or video of an intervention or exercise that you can implement into practice and immediately (and safely) help your clients with, do it. Use the evidence accordingly and always make sure your treatment “principles” are guided by the wealth of resources available to us across all platforms.

ACL Prevention Screen Recap

Last weekend, I and three of my PT colleagues went to Biola University to perform a movement screen on their women’s soccer team. This was actually a follow up from the initial screen we performed in October, so it gave us a good idea of how the girls did over the course of the season and whether any of their measures changed over time.

In October, we gave the girls strength, mobility, and proprioceptive exercises to perform throughout the course of the season as an adjunct to their strength program and practice schedule.

This time around, we had 4 stations that stayed consistent:

  1. Double Leg SquatIMG_0647
  2. Single Leg Step Down IMG_0656
  3. Eccentric Weight Acceptance (from jump) IMG_0645
  4. MMTs: Quads, Hamstrings, Hip abductors, Hip Extensors IMG_0661

However, we took out our acceleration drill from the previous session and added the L cutting test, consisting of a 10 yard sprint, followed by a plant-and-cut to the right, then left. (Shout out to Trent Nessler for the inspiration on this one).  IMG_0648

I’m in the process of reviewing the data and comparing the pre and the post results, which I’ll update on this blog at a later time.

Some common movement faults and impairments that we found across the board that were interesting:

  • With the cutting motion, the most consistent fault was a wide plant foot relative to the knee, essentially creating a larger valgus moment at the knee right at the onset of the cut
  • There was a pretty even split between either a proximal contralateral hip drop and knee valgus during the single leg step down, sometimes both at the same time. However, both occurring together didn’t seem as prevalent
  • The girls showed good improvements in weight acceptance during the plyo drill, with the greatest carryover being eccentric knee flexion instead of stiff knees upon landing. We emphasized this at the previous screen and they seemed to take it to heart
  • MMTs of the hips continued to be weak, but at first glance, not quite as weak as it had been. Hopefully the increased emphasis on this will continue to improve as we progress their home program
  • One main impairment during the double leg squat was lacking at least 90 degrees knee flexion at max depth, with common compensations being excessive trunk flexion and some heels off the ground (link to ankle dorsiflexion)
  • Proximal stability seemed to be a common theme across the board. There was a high prevalence of trendelenburg hip drop during their sprints, ipsilateral trunk side bend/contralateral hip drop during SL movements, and excessive trunk flexion (lack of hip mobility) during DL squats at end range.

The head coach of the team, Erin Brunelle, was amazing in her follow through in regards to incorporating the Santa Monica PEP program 3 times per week into their practice schedule. She reported that they were very consistent with this and will continue to do so during their summer training.

For our follow up this time around, I’ll be sending the girls video links to determine if electronic instruction is more effective than paper (they were handed HEPs last time around). This will allow them to have some instruction via video so that they can hopefully better perform the corrective exercises to help with their impairments.

One of the biggest takeaways was how receptive the girls were to our instruction and cuing. They seemed to really understand the importance of awareness and taking action to do everything in their power to minimize the risk of injury. I got a sense that they really took ownership of their learning experience and can see how helpful this information can be in regards to their health and their performance. It was definitely a great learning experience all the way around.


ACL Injury Prevention: Why Expectation is the Key

Last year, I decided to put together a screen of sorts that can be used on different populations to help identify certain risk factors that could predispose folks to ACL tears. Scouring the literature was a chore, but the biggest take away from my lit review was the fact that there really isn’t a ton of conclusive evidence or consensus on what constitutes a risk factor.

There’s a big distinction that needs to be made between correlation and cause, which I think has taken on the same meaning for many people. I try to stress that there is no predicting when these types of injuries are going to happen, the evidence just doesn’t seem to back it up (feel free to correct me if you have research that proves otherwise). I’ve seen too many clinicians out there stating that they can “PREVENT ACL INJURIES” if you are screened for this, that, or the other. This is purposely deceptive, in my opinion, and tells the general public something that just isn’t true.

My way of explaining a screen when I perform one: ” We’re doing this screen to pick out limitations or weaknesses. Once we identify these issues, we’ll give you a set of mobility and strength interventions/exercises that you can perform to address these limitations. This will hopefully give you the strength, mobility, and stability you need while playing insert sport that will optimize your movement patterns and performance.”

Obviously, if this is an athlete who I work with one-on-one, the terminology changes and I’d be able to do more hands on cuing and guiding, but the point is that I don’t mislead them into thinking that I’m going to miraculously prevent an ACL tear from happening. All I can do is give them the tools and the guidance to be as prepared for their sport as possible.

I truly believe that patient expectation is critical to any intervention we perform or exercise we prescribe. Over-promising and under-performing is just about the worst way to go about forging clinical relationships. Being honest about what the athlete/client can expect and working your ass off with to make it happen is all we can do. And hopefully, with a lot of sweat, hard work, and skill, we get the outcomes that we’re looking for