Injuries are very commonplace in the NFL. However, for many in Steeler Nation, the Pittsburgh Steelers injury reports and IR lists seem to fill up faster than a Hoss’s Steak and Sea House on a Thursday night. The increase, or at least the sustained frequency at which players become injured is a mystery yet to be solved by team doctors, league specialists, and my dear ‘medical expert’ mother-in-law (Put some epsom salt on that ACL sprain!). What is apparent is that a large pool of players show up to camp not in the best of shape and certainly not ready for real football. The school of thought is that athletes that are in tip top shape throughout the year, especially at the start of the football season, should be less prone to injury.
One way it seems the Steelers are trying to get an edge on the “in shape” dilemma was to bring in some new age high tech workout gear. Our friends over at sporttechie.com reported on this in their “#NFLTechSeries 2013.” In their Pittsburgh Steelers team report, they revealed that the team brought a piece of equipment called the Fitwall. It looks like an oversized steel bookcase and is meant to use sympathetic receptors in the body to increase the metabolic rate – in other words, the exercises you do actually causes the brain to think you are falling and releases more energy to help gain balance and strength which translates into more calories being burned and more muscles being used. Data is sent to an iPad via a bluetooth monitor that the athlete wears allowing trainers to analyze the workouts. With about 900 available workouts, the entire body can be worked on the FitWall. Spottechie reports that the Steelers are the only sports organization in the country with Fitwalls and that the majority of usage is from the US Armed Forces and Olympic Training Centers (and some fancy gyms in LA). That’s impressive company, and one would expect large dividends using such equipment.
That’s not the case with the Steelers, and the injuries piled up during the 2013 campaign. Of course, injuries are going to happen that can’t be prevented, such as having a player dive into your knee or rolling over your ankle. But injuries such as the ones that LaMarr Woodley sustain (for example), are the annoying injuries (in more ways than one) that tend to creep up from not being in the best shape possible.
The one thing Sporttechie does not talk about is how many and at what frequency the Steelers used the Fitwall. Even if the Steelers training staff forces each and every one of the players to work on the Fitwall a certain number of times, there have been no studies or reports on the Fitwall being directly responsible for preventing injuries, such as muscle pulls and strains. At least the organization is trying everything possible to keep the players in NFL football condition.
So what is it going to take to keep players from becoming seriously injured over the course of the season? Because for the Steelers, it won’t matter who they draft or acquire to be on that offensive line. As long as the lot of them continue to become injured the way they do, the offense will continue to struggle in ways that will prevent them from becoming Super Bowl champions or even playoff contenders.