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A Tempered Reaction to Kenny Phillips News

Tom Rock yesterday posted a very interesting (read panicky) article about how Kenny Phillips’ football career might be over. I like T-Rock’s take on most things — but I think in the wake of dealing with several injuries to key Giants players, Kenny Phillips most definitely included, let’s instead take the high road here and stay optimistic. The easiest thing to do is get paralyzed from this bad news, and before I get on my own rant — please understand that I think Kenny Phillips’ star is on the rise and frankly he is irreplaceable. And probably like most Giants fans, I’ve absolutely had it with these injuries.

But I have a plan.

What I’m going to suggest, even without knowing the severity of the injury, what I’m concluding is that Kenny Phillips arthritis is not career ending. In fact, by doing some specific stretching routines it can be managed, or even healed.

No – I’m not a physical training expert.
No – I’m not a doctor.
No – I am not selling anything (at least not directly).

But what I’m going to be talking about has proven results. What I’m talking about is something Giants’ own Amani Toomer started doing several years ago to help extend his career. It helped Toomer’s focus, balance, core strength, and it also stretched him out effectively to prevent strains and injuries. And it should be noted that this training routine I’m going to talk about is something that I personally believe in because it has helped me overcome a few of my own injuries, as well as other people I’ve recommended it to.

What I’m talking about is Yoga.

As I watched the injury reports roll out over training camp, I kept thinking to myself — something is way off here. Why are these guys as professional athletes not properly stretched out? They obviously weight train, and they obviously are working their muscles out – effectively stressing them out – but why aren’t they effectively stretching them out? As we’ve seen, a single strain can sideline a player for weeks, even months… and as soon as these guys hit the field again we see these guys re-injur themselves because while they’re rested, they aren’t healed. We’ve seen it with Chris Canty, Aaron Ross, Kevin Dockery, and so on.

This much is obvious to most people — granted. But what I’m saying is the model of physical training and therapy used by NY teams like the Giants and Mets is clearly archaic, ineffective, and it’s missing the most crucial aspect of healing a strained muscle = properly stretching the body. Forget just resting it and strengthening around the problem area. And to those of you who think you know stretching — forget 8th grade gym class and bending over for 10 seconds to touch your toes. That is not what I’m talking about.

After sitting here watching these injuries spin out of control, I feel I need finally say my piece. The experts up in Jersey sure as hell don’t know what to do about it. It’s now my belief that up in the NY and NJ – Yoga for sports related stretching, strengthening, and physical therapy is one of the most under-used and under-prescribed solutions available. Certain types of Yoga, hot Yoga especially, allow you to engage in the kind of deep stretching that fully rejuvenates the body – you stretch beyond your normal points of resistance due to the hot room, while you maintain the properly designed poses overseen by a trained instructor that will strengthen and heal the body.

I hope that didn’t sound too easy, because it is not easy. Hot Yoga is not easy nor is it relaxing. In fact most of the people I know that have tried hot Yoga find it to be the hardest training they have ever engaged in. But the benefit is that you heal your muscles thoroughly through a deep stretching routine, you increase balance, flexibility, strength – and the result is that by engaging in this practice routinely it actually helps to prevent injuries going forward.

Forget sitting in a circle with your hands on your knees in prayer. Forget the mental image you currently harbor when you think of Yoga. I’m talking about an incredibly athletic, aggressive, well designed routine of the same exact 26 stretching poses that guarantee deep stretching and strengthening of every single muscle in your body — it’s 90 minutes of hellish torture in a 100+ degree room at 70% humidity. I am not exaggerating. Those that have done hot Yoga like Bikram will agree, and please speak up if you have. It’s time for NY sports teams like the Mets and Giants to get serious about properly preparing their team by preventing injuries to their players in an effective manner.

Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience. But I’ve also helped other people in my life overcome injuries – from chronic back pain to migraines. These stretches work to the bewilderment of physical therapists and doctors where Yoga is not a prescribed method of treatment.

So before I get too far off topic and go on and on about how much I believe in Yoga, my question to the Giants staff is this:

Given all the research, benefits, and proven results that have shown to rehabilitate and prevent injuries – why wouldn’t a robust Yoga treatment schedule be mandatory for your players? I am NOT suggesting that these players stop weight training, I’m simply wondering why Yoga isn’t a larger part of the overall training schedule… You have the money, facilities, time, and you should have the shared motive to get your athletes performing their best for you. You cannot get a deeper stretching and strengthening routine than hot Yoga, period. So why wouldn’t this type of training be mandatory?!

Still don’t believe me that it works? Take it from your own Giants players.

Here is a great article I found that was written last season by ESPN editor Alisha Ricardi. It explains how Amani Toomer, Kevin Boss, and Shaun O’Hara had engaged in Yoga practice once a week. Here is what Toomer said of the routine:

“If I hadn’t done yoga, I’d be out of the league by now.”

Here is what instructor Gwen Lawrence added:

“Power on the field is not just strength — the power equation that I know is strength plus flexibility. Athletes in general are so taxed and tired and put in so much training that the first thing they cut out is flexibility.”

What’s the outcome of this type of treatment? Lawrence continues:

“I think it’s just longevity in general. It’s the idea of keeping the body strong and supple all year long.”

The case studies go on and on, not just for football but for many professional sports — Yoga is an option and it works to keep players performing at their best and being productive on the field.

Here are the facts:

We are in week 2 of the NFL season with 8 Giants starters out. Most of the injuries are strains and tears that stem from overly tight muscles and what appears to be an ineffective stretching routine. That much is clear.

What you may not realize is that every single injury the Giants players have can be improved and benefit from a Yoga routine practiced at least 3 times a week. It should not dovetail into on-field stretching the way we’ve seen throughout pre-season training camp on tape… get those players in hot room and take them through the full 90-minute Yoga class in 110 degree heat at 70% humidity. Being in that room alone is a benefit. You will test their focus and resolve — things that should appeal to the Giants coaching staff in general.

When the practice is done with focus and commitment, you will immediately see results. And down the road after 3 months of hot Yoga – you and your players will not be able to believe the difference it makes in their lives.

A special note to Kenny Phillips – there are specific knee stretching poses and strengthening techniques that are included as part of each and every Yoga class. The inventor of the Bikram Hot Yoga series for example was in a near fatal car crash and designed his series to rehabilitate his lower body, particularly his knees. Stretching and focusing on the knees in the ways reference above helps to minimize arthritis, and the locking of the knees technique described in the linked article is a huge part of the Yoga practice. Knee problems run in my family, and while I did Bikram for several months, 3 days a week — my knees never felt better. Gumby would be proud.

So my recommendation is not simply that Kenny Phillips spend his offseason trying Yoga — it’s that I see a wider need for teams like the Giants and Mets to adopt a new training and rehabilitation methodology that includes Yoga as a linchpin ingredient to keeping their players fully stretched out, and on the field performing where they belong.

If like me, you’ve experienced the benefits of Yoga, please comment about it here — those that are not privy to the magic need to hear about it now more than ever. That’s it for my rant, folks. I feel much better now just writing about Yoga.


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12 Responses to “A Tempered Reaction to Kenny Phillips News”

  1. ReneNYG1 says:

    I used yoga for stress management and it can be used for more intense stretching out and increase circulation and blood flow to your center,I truly believe in these treatments ,Yoga is acknowledged all ready but it’s kind of weird to do ,I liked it at first mostly because hot ladies where working out with me.LOL

  2. Well its true — hot Yoga like Bikram is an aggressive series that completely stretches and strengthens and heals, I fully believe in it and it’s proven to be effective.

    I dont see anything weird about that… whats weird to me is slapping pro athletes an an exercise bike and expect them to work their kinks out.

    its ludicrous, and its a disgrace to medical oversight for a professional sports team.

  3. Shane says:

    Yoga is bar none, any athlete’s best friend.
    I watch a little blurb that tit is becoming a hot commodity in the NFL about 2-3 months ago.

    My experience is not much different than most.
    I love playing basketball, but kept turning my ankle. Several braces, a couple hundred dollars later, and nothing changed. A friend then suggested Yoga and I have yet to sprain my ankle in seven years. Knock on wood!

    Many professional athletes have been doing Yoga that I am aware of for at least the last 15 years. I spoke with one instructor who’s client’s included Rick Fox and the U.S. Judo team.

    It is clear that the “old” way of doing things is not adequate and some of these guys need to get the number for Toomer’s instructor immediately.


    “A friend then suggested Yoga and I have yet to sprain my ankle in seven years. Knock on wood!”

    I am in the exact same boat!!! among other issues.

    Yoga is the absolute best option to stretch and strengthen and prevent injury…. and many pro’s are using it to be the best competitor possible.

    Thanks for the info Shane! Who else has a case study to share?

  5. I’ve been thinking about starting yoga (I haven’t). But Hopefully I’ll get around to it.

    In response to your last comment on this article about the most indispensible New York Giants:

    I agree with you that Brandon Jacobs can set a tone for the team and that he is invaluable. But I think Running backs in general, with a few exceptions, are largely replaceable. I think the more important thing is the OL.

    Also, despite how much I like Brandon Jacobs, I’ve seen the Giants succeed without him in the run game that’s why I had him at #8.

    I’m getting a little nervous about all the injuries, the Buccaneers defense isn’t terrible.

    But so far I’ve seen it likely that these folliwng players are out:

    Danny Ware, Domenix Hixon, Hakeem Nicks, Justin Tuck, Aaron Ross, Kevin Dockery, Chris Canty

    But NOT Clint Sintim. yet.

    hopefully he can go.

  6. @Jesse

    Yoga is irreplaceable as a training technique for stretching, strengthening, healing, and prevention.

    it is an all in one quality of life booster.

    Hot Yoga if you have an injury nails it — there is no better solution for undoing the injury and reestablishing strength and suppleness in your muscles. the gym doesnt heal at the fundamental areas… yoga does.

    give it a try — go to Bikram and you’ll feel what im talking about. you cant go once though, atleast 2 times within 24 hours!

  7. Great article…I mean great… are spot on. I know Strahan was into pilates, which many teams have now embraced…it’s a combination of yoga and fitness that I have tried, and let me tell you…it’s always made me feel better and more flexible….this is the first I’ve read about players engaging in hot yoga ..JF

  8. you make a great point about running backs, but even so I hope Jacobs and Bradshaw show us why we love to put them at the top of the chart this week.

  9. Thanks John!

    I have tried pilates, its ok not great for me. When I tried hot yoga at my wife’s insistence after sustaining an ankle injury from running it was like light switch.

    one week of bikram healed it — and it hasnt been a problem since.

    that series is unbelievably effective, there are elderly people taking classes to battle spine injuries, arthritis in your joints, EVERYTHING.

    I’d love to get the Giants as a team to try it — they wont believe the results.

  10. NjJay says:

    For those out there even thinking about it should try some Yoga. I’m a 32 year old ex marine, and some of the stretches are just for lack of a better word phenomenal. I’m not gonna lie and say it was easy, but after just one class I liked the way I felt, and I loved what Yoga had to offer. Namaste.

  11. […] especially downward dog and the very similar dolphin pose. I could go on about this topic as I’ve been know to do, so I […]

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