Study: Altering starting position may reduce head injuries
According to a recent study, offensive linemen experienced roughly 40 percent fewer hits to the head when they began the play in a two-point stance as opposed to a three-point stance.
The research was conducted in conjunction with Purdue University and Stanford University and appeared in the March issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, entitled “Distribution of Head Acceleration Events Varies by Position and Play Type in North American Football.”Previous studies have shown that recurring hits to the head can cause brain damage even without a concussion — offensive linemen being at the highest risk for hits to the head. But a slight change in their starting stance could be the difference between suffering head injuries and staying in the game.
“An offensive lineman tends to start off in a three-point stance, which means that one hand remains in contact with the ground until the start of the plan, similar to sprinter fashion. The first move is always to come up, and most players tend to lead with their head,” Eric Nauman, a Purdue professor mechanical engineering and basic medical sciences, explained. “If you’re required to be in a two-point stance, meaning standing up with no hands on the ground, then you’re already up a little bit. You’ve already got your hands in a good position and it’s harder, actually to lead with your head.”
Researches collected information by gluing sensors behind the ears of 78 participating athletes over three Spring League practice sessions and one exhibition game in July 2018 in San Diego. Overall offensive and defensive linemen experienced the most hits to the head, 98 and 52 hits, respectively. However, the offensive linemen in a two-point stance were hit fewer times than those in a three- or four-point stance.
To read the full report via the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, click here.