Making multi-million-dollar players

February 29, 2012 9:32:54 AM PST
The Indianapolis Colts finished 2-14 this season. With stats like that, it's hard to believe their quarterback is paid the highest salary in the NFL.

Peyton Manning will take home $23 million for a season he didn't even play. Neck injuries sidelined him. That's why the pros are working so hard to engineer a better athlete, one who runs faster, throws farther and is hit with fewer injuries.

Devin Goda's time in the 40-yard dash has dropped from 4.75 seconds to 4.38. That fraction of a second saved puts the Slippery Rock University wide receiver on par with the best wide receivers in the game. How did he do it? By improving one step, one movement at a time.

"In reality, we all move the same way," said Ron DeAngelo, expert in sports biomechanics.

DeAngelo and his colleagues train athletes to move in the most efficient way possible. Specialized computer software analyzes performance.

The same breakthrough technology is also keeping the pros on the field longer with fewer injuries. The Atlanta Falcons, a high-performance team with one of the lowest injury rates in the NFL, never underestimate the power of motion. Several times a year, every Falcons player undergoes functional movement screening. Seven specialized tests, scored zero to three, identify limitations in strength and motion from left to right, head to toe, before they cause injuries.

"If you do have an asymmetry, if you do have a restriction that's going to eventually break down," said Jeff Fish, director of athletic performance, Atlanta Falcons.

To prevent that breakdown, customized therapies target each player's unique risk factors. The healthy movement score becomes a benchmark for healing.

"We want our players to be healthy and durable and be able to contribute to our success through the course of the whole season," Fish said.

And breakthrough technology is fast-tracking players to their dreams.

"I'm going to turn some heads," Goda said.

Motion analysis isn't just for professional athletes. Movement screening is now available through certified personal trainers all over the country to allow weekend warriors and fitness enthusiasts to test their own efficiency of motion and improve performance.

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