Aug 13, 2015
HS Football Team Swears By Active Release

Since Tom Nelson, the team doctor for Nazareth Academy in La Grange, Ill., started using what he calls “Self Activation Technique,” the football team’s injury rate has dropped by 45 percent compared to previous seasons, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. Players use 18-inch plastic pipes to apply pressure to various parts of their bodies, a form of Active Release Technique that borrows from chiropractic procedure and acupuncture. 

SAT involves a series of breathing exercises as athletes take the stick and apply pressure to areas behind their head and ears. The stick also is used by Nelson, who is entering his 12th season as Nazareth’s team doctor, and the athletic training staff to apply pressure to other parts of the body to treat injuries.

Nelson originally trained players to use the activation sticks on each other but found they were much more comfortable stimulating their own pressure points. Now they do a 10-minute session before every game and practice under the supervision of their athletic trainer or strength coach.

“I started using it during my freshman year,” Devonte Dunn, a junior defensive lineman, told the Chicago Tribune. “At first, it hurt a lot. Afterward, it felt good. I felt like a new guy, fresh and focused on the field. It showed on the field.”

Nazareth won the state Class 6A title in 2014, thanks, in part, to having its best players healthy on the field. Head Coach Tim Racki, who regularly undergoes activation himself, says the procedure helps players emotionally as well as physically.

“The biggest thing on my mind, especially on game days, is activation gets you in sync with your body. It’s more about breathing, but it (settles) your mind as well,” said Racki.

“They are not jacked up before games,” Nelson said. “This gets them relaxed and breathing on the sideline.”

We recently looked at Active Release Techniques in the pages of Training & Conditioning

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