5 Ways to Prevent Rotator Cuff Injuries to Quarterbacks

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Noel Piepgrass is the strength and conditioning coach at Central Valley Christian High (Calif.). He has designed an offseason strength program to help quarterbacks avoid shoulder and rotator cuff injuries.

Avoid movement patterns that have the potential to cause injury.

These include any press that involves a barbell. Avoid the flat barbell bench, incline barbell bench, decline barbell bench and military press. Take away the barbell from quarterbacks, and replace with dumbbells. Press variations can include a low tilt or flat bench.

Focus on push-up variations.

Body-weight exercises can improve strength and help maintain balance in the strengthening of the muscles around the shoulder. The one exception when it comes to body-weight exercises is the dip. Replace dips with push-ups or rows. Be sure that quarterbacks have an even split between push and pull exercises in the weight room.

No overhead Olympic lifts.

Most football strength programs include variations of the clean and snatch. These exercises put quarterbacks at risk for injury. Replace the clean with the high pull and the jerk-and-clean or snatch with a dumbbell/kettlebell swing.

No back squats.

The back squat can cause problems with lower-back health for quarterbacks, and the action of the shoulders occasionally creates potential for injury. Replace the back squat with the front squat with the quarterback’s arms crossed in front. Another option for quarterbacks is the safety bar squat so that the shoulders are not stressed.

Light weights for shoulder stability.

Quarterbacks do not need to stand in front of the mirror with heavy dumbbells to build shoulder strength. In fact, that will decrease flexibility that every quarterback needs to be an accurate passer. A quarterback can build the smaller muscles around the rotator cuff with cable exercises, stretch cords and weights as small as 2 ½ or 5 pounds. Resistance exercises with a partner also work well.

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