Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both suffered mild hamstring injuries, which could put them out of action for two to four weeks, according to a sports doctor.
“A mild strain is somewhere between two and four weeks,” said Dr. Bert R. Mandelbaum, orthopedic surgeon at Santa Monica Orthoapedic and Sports Medicine Group in Santa Monica, Ca.
Both running backs were competing for the starting position and would be basically knocked out of the exhibition season if they missed four weeks. The Falcons play their first exhibition game against Tennessee on Friday, Aug. 14 at the Georgia Dome.
“The usual important thing is the R.I.C.E. acronym: rest, ice, compression and elevation,” said Mandelbaum, who’s been a team physician with UCLA Athletics (1985-1989) and Pepperdine University (1990-present), LA Galaxy and Chivas USA MLS teams.
The Falcons have used some cutting edge medicine in the past and could try to speed up the recovery time with platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections into the injured area. They used this on Julio Jones’ foot last season.
“That has been shown in controlled studies, the reduction in terms of the number of days in returning to sports, specifically, soccer, the PRP will diminish that significantly,” Mandelbaum said.
The process doesn’t sound like much fun.
“It’s the taking out of the blood,” Mandelbaum said. “ Spinning the blood down. Taking the platelets and then concentrating them and then re-injecting them into the injury. It’s usually done with ultra sound.”
The Falcons haven’t been practicing long with most of the open sessions being under the two hour mark. However, it’s been hot. The temperature on Thursday was 78 degrees, the coolest of the six practices so far at training camp.
“The hamstring is the most common injury that we see across the board whether if you’re talking about baseball players, football players or soccer players,” Mandelbaum said. “In baseball and soccer they occur early in the season. A lot of that has to do with the mismatch of the load and the game and it could be the weather.
“Certainly, in baseball, in the major league baseball data, we found that 62 percent of them occurred while running to first base. The predominance, about 26 percent, were actually during May, early in the season.
“So the time and the weather definitely are a factor in the incidences of hamstring injuries.”
The Falcons don’t make their training staff or doctors available to the media, but Freeman and Coleman appear to have had strong offseasons.
“I like to use the concept of the mismatch between the load and the intensity of the training, the game and the preparation,” Mandelbaum said. “Sometimes you get people who don’t prepare. You assume they all prepared in the same way when they show up in camp, but we all know that’s not the case.
“I’d just rather than say they are not in shape, I just say there is a mismatch between what their preparation was and it could be that they are running hard and working hard, but they are not doing, for example, what we call eccentric hamstring strengthening exercises, which are probably the most powerful in terms of minimizing hamstring injuries and preventing them.”
The Falcons likely do those exercises and they stretch as a team before practicing.
‘It’s been shown in a number of sports that specifically the eccentric training of the hamstring will reduce the incidences up to 65 percent,” Mandelbaum said.
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