dielman1 237x300 Preventing Concussions in Football   What Every Football Player Should Know   Part 2

San Diego Chargers’ guard Kris Dielman suffered a seizure on the flight home after a concussion he suffered vs. the Jets during the 2011 NFL season. (ICON Sports)

Welcome back for part two of the Preventing Concussions in Football series.

Click here if you missed part one.

As a refresher, what I’m doing is relaying to you the things I think we can learn from some articles I read on the subject.

Let’s finish up.

Related: The Truth on How NFL Teams Will Look at Your Injuries

 

Lesson #5: Lead with Your Shoulder When Tackling, Not Your Head

 

As a former free safety, I understand that it’s easier said than done, but leading with your shoulder when you make a hit can help reduce your risk of suffering a concussion, too.

Let’s be real, sometimes helmet-to-helmet contact is down right unavoidable, but it’s smart to lead with your shoulder (rather than your helmet) as often as you possibly can.

Obviously, the fewer big blows you take to your head, the less concussions you’re liable to suffer.

 

Lesson #6: Make Sure Your Helmet Fits Properly

 

At the Wisconsin Sports Concussion site, they claim that only 15-20% of helmets player’s wear are fitted properly.

In Helmet Safety Starts with a Proper Fit at USAFootball.com, Thad Ide, the VP of Research and Development at Riddell, explained that having your helmet fitted properly makes sure that all of the mechanisms and padding in the helmet are fitting where they were engineered to fit.

Excuse my French, but it would suck to find out that a concussion I suffered could’ve been avoided if I would have only made sure my helmet was fitted right.

Here’s some advice on how to properly fit a football helmet:

 

Lesson #7: Don’t Neglect your Neck

 

There’s evidence that strengthening your neck muscles can help reduce your risk of getting a concussion.

I always thought a big neck just reduced your chances of suffering a neck injury.  I was obviously wrong.

According to the Wisconsin Sports Concussion Prevention page, a strong neck does more than just protect against neck injury:

Studies have shown that individuals with stronger neck musculature have a lower rate of concussion.  A stronger neck can absorb some of the shock of the blow to the head and decrease the force delivered to the brain.

In Head Injuries: How to Reduce Concussion Risk, Dr. Julian Bailes, who serves at the chair of  West Virginia University’s Department of Neurosurgery, backs the idea that strong neck muscles can help reduce concussion risk:

…studies have shown that by increasing the strength of the neck muscles, the amount of movement of the head when it is impacted is significantly lessened…

 

The Debate 

But not so fast.

Apparently, we want to be careful before we go declaring that a strong neck will absolutely help.

Mark Halstead, Associate Professor in Pediatrics and Orthopedics at Washington University, says that further research needs to be done before we claim with certainty that a stronger neck actually helps.

Bottom line on this one, at least in my opinion, is there isn’t much to lose in building stronger neck muscles.

I’d rather work on my neck muscles while they continue researching, than not work on them, only to find out years down the line that a strong neck could’ve helped me avoid some concussions.

John Murray and Eric Ethridge show us some manual neck exercises for football.

They look pretty dangerous, so you definitely want to do these with someone that knows what they’re doing:

 

Do you have any additional tips for avoiding a concussion?

Have you ever experienced one?

Even worse, have you experienced any residual issues in your life from a concussion you got from playing football?

I wanna hear from you in the comments below!

Catch me on Twitter.  @alvingrier

Click here to connect with us on Facebook.

 

Web References:

Can mouthguards and football helmets really prevent concussion?  (via Chicagotribune.com)
Helmet Safety Starts with a Proper Fit (via usafootball.com)
Head Injuries: How to Reduce Concussion Risk (via Chicagotribune.com)
Virginia Tech Announces Football Helmet Ratings for Reducing Concussion Risk (via vt.edu)
Tips to Help reduce the Occurrence of Concussion (via wisportsconcussion.org) 

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