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Fallacies of football strength training


Fallacy: in season, do more work on neck strength and trap development.  Recommendations include increasing the volume of work and to start every weight training session with neck and trap work.

Fact: there’s no questioning the fact that stronger neck and trapezius muscles will be a benefit in preventing serious neck injury. However, in season is not the time to increase the training of the neck and trap muscles. This is when work should be done on perfecting technique of skill execution so that an injury will not occur when tackling, blocking or executing other actions. Keep in mind that technique is as important as strength when it comes to injury prevention.

In addition, there should be a limit to how much strength of these muscles is really needed to prevent injury. To my knowledge no one has determined if there is an optimal amount that is capable of preventing injury or even if greater strength when already strong will prevent injury.

In fact, it is very possible that excessive strengthening, especially of the upper trapezius muscle, can lead to shoulder problems. When this portion of the trapezius is overdeveloped it gives the appearance of “sloping” shoulders as opposed to “square” shoulders in which the shoulders appear level. The sloping shoulders may inhibit full range of motion in the shoulder joint.

This in turn can limit the ability of the athlete to raise his arms completely overhead. This range of motion is critical for effective tackling especially when diving or reaching for the opponent. It is also needed to prevent injuries such as shoulder impingement.

There are even more reasons for not doing additional strength work for the neck and upper trapezius muscles during the season. Foremost is that the athlete may already be in a fatigue state or be experiencing slight soreness from the weekly competition or even competition during practice.  Doing additional strength work at this time can lead to greater soreness and possible injury.



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