Dear Rookie Hamstrings,
We all know the deal. You busted your ass all last summer, during a long and stress-filled season, into the high-intensity NFL Combine and all the way to your big Pro Day. It’s been at least 9 solid months of hard work with one goal in mind: “Get into the NFL!!”
Since your last Pro Day, things have certainly changed, huh? You flew all over the country to meet & greet with NFL teams, your high intensity workouts/rehab routines were put on the back burner, your “social gatherings” with your family and friends were ramped up, you were super busy with your school work (wink, wink) and we all knew that your strict nutritional plan was put on hold.
I can’t say I blame you after the impressive effort you put into the past year.
Congrats, man, you’ve been Drafted or invited to this weekend’s Mini Camp with your new NFL team. Approximately 0.08% of high school football players get Drafted into the NFL so you have plenty to be proud of!
The party’s over.
The hoopla and the hundreds of texts from the festive weekend have faded. Now it’s time to get back to work. Your first major step to making your new team starts this weekend: Your first Mini Camp. As you enter that new facility, you will quickly realize that everything around you has changed. From the color of your jersey to how you get your ankles taped to verbage in your playbook, life is different now.
While you were celebrating, your new team was planning out every one of your drills, team plays and workout reps for this weekend’s Mini Camp.
While you were toasting with your friends and family, your new team’s coaches, scouts, GM’s and owners were raising your expectations before you even got on the plane.
In my 26 years as an athletic trainer and physical therapist in the NFL, I treated hundreds of hamstring strains in Mini Camps. About 70% of those strained hamstrings involved rookies. Why did I consistently see very high numbers of torn hamstrings during the first Mini Camp? I believe it’s based on the following formula:
Deconditioned Post-Draft Rookie + Fired-Up NFL Coaches + High Tempo Competitive Drills/Practices + Dehydration = Torn Hamstring
Game Planning for Healthy Hamstrings
1. Stay Well Hydrated – My “50/50 Rules”: Consistently drink 50% water & 50% Gatorade before, during and after all workouts, practices and games. As for any supplements, leave them at home because they won’t help your hammy’s this weekend.
2. Embrace Your New Athletic Trainers – NFL athletic trainers are the best in the business. Their job is to keep you healthy. Consistently seek their advice, learn from them and benefit from their expert care.
3. Freeze ’em – Use the team’s cold tank after every workout and practice. Sure it hurts getting into 48 degree water. If it’s too cold for you, you can either: “grow a pair” or be plenty warm enough on your couch come September.
4. Commit to a Routine – The very successful veteran NFL players I’ve had the pleasure of working with all had one thing in common: They all had a routine they did every day. It wasn’t a routine they did when they felt they needed it or for that big game or when they were sore. They did it EVERY day. Be one of those guys.
Welcome to the big league, gentlemen. Now it’s time for you and your hamstrings to show ’em why you’re here.