Tag Archive: injury

  1. Y-H Spissue: Training, injury and recovery on Yale’s football team

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    Throughout the year, the Yale football team members pay attention to their physical health in all its forms — not only gritty training, but also rest, diet and, for those dealing with injuries, recovery — to make sure that their bodies are in shape for games.

    At the core of Yale football’s regimen is a regular training schedule, during which players attend various lifting workouts, film sessions, practices and more. In addition to keeping in shape, the team members also take steps to preserve their physical health. Healthy diets are maintained through regular breakfast checks and supplemental drinks, and frequent meetings with medical staff help players take preventative measures against injury. According to players interviewed by the News, a strong sense of community also makes players feel supported, both on and off the field.

    Their typical training schedule follows a similar pattern every week. According to Ruben Valenzuela ’25, a defensive back on the team, Sundays are of a “slower tempo” that allows players’ bodies to rest and heal from the previous day’s game. On those days, the team usually does a morning lift and a walkthrough to correct any mistakes from the game. He noted that Mondays are the players’ day off, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are more intense, when the team usually does Tuesday morning lifts and attends various meetings and practices from 2-7:30 p.m. on both days. Then on Thursdays, the training is “lighter on [the players’] legs,” and Fridays are “more like a walkthrough” where the team goes over schemes for the next day’s game. 

    “Usually some guys stay after practice to go do treatment,” Valenzuela said. “Each position group on the team has different goals for that week. Sometimes, for example, my goals for the week could be going to the training room three times a week, just to make sure our bodies are always in tune so we can prevent injuries in the future. That’s what I like about [the training room], it’s always open and the resources are always there.”

    During lifting workouts, Valenzuela said that players get classified into three groups: offense, defense or injured. According to Valenzuela, based on these categories and by how sore each player feels, the trainers will then create a workout that allows for all the players to get “a kind of individual workout.” 

    When asked about Yale athletic’s approach towards training the football team, Mike Gambardella, associate athletic director for strategic communications, referred the News to a feature published in July. According to the feature, the athletic department emphasizes the importance of creating an “individual connection with each student-athlete.” Furthermore, the staff members strive to effectively train each player by “getting to know the student-athletes on multiple levels.” 

    For the players, success on the field relies heavily on their diet. Valenzuela explained that on every day of the week except Monday, players have to undergo a “breakfast check” to ensure that they are “up and ready for the day.” Between 7:30-9:30 a.m., a coach will sit with the players while they eat breakfast, Valenzuela added. 

    Skipping a breakfast check can have consequences, such as having to do conditioning. According to Valenzuela, even injured players are required to complete breakfast checks. 

    “Breakfast kind of gives us that kind of foundation of our day, keeps our schedule going for the day,” said Valenzuela. “So get an early start in the morning, get the food we need to get.” 

    In addition to their regular meals, players are also given a supplement following team workouts. According to Valenzuela, after every practice, the players are given “puppy chow,” a drink with around 1,000 calories consisting of “oil, milk, protein, cinnamon and sometimes fruit.” The players are allowed to drink as much as they want, with some players taking two or three servings at a time, Valenzuela said.

    Players are also given magnesium pills, and the trainers always make sure that the team members are drinking enough fluids and getting enough electrolytes, according to Valenzuela.

    “If . . . they want us a certain weight in maybe by next season or they want us at our goal weight to become our prime shape, they’ll prepare us because in football, they want us to have a certain amount of body fat because of the amount of hits we take,” Valenzuela said. “It just helps us kind of cushion our muscles . . . it is that armor that is added on to us to help us prevent injuries and stuff like that . . . they always give us the right nutrition throughout the week . . . so they give us everything we need to be successful.”

    Another notable aspect of the Yale football program is the relationship between players and the medical staff. 

    “We have a really good relationship with them, we see them before every practice,” said Connor Smith ’25, an offensive lineman on the team. “They’re really good. Really nice guys.”

    According to Valenzuela, part of the reason for the bond between team doctors and players is the frequent interactions between the two. Valenzuela explained that players meet with medical staff as often as an hour or two a day. Throughout the week, he noted, the doctors and trainers “always work with” the players to “make sure [their] bodies are right.”

    Indeed, Smith explained that before every game, the medical staff helps to ensure that players are equipped with “game readies,” or leg sleeves that utilize pressure to alleviate soreness. Valenzuela said that the trainers are always there at every practice and at every game, even the travel ones.

    “We’re always talking to them, we’re always with them,” Valenzuela said with regards to the team’s relationship with medical staff. “So we’re really close to them.”

    Furthermore, Smith added that the team surgeon, Elizabeth Gardner, has always been “super helpful” in preparing players for surgery and scheduling the necessary MRIs or X-rays.

    According to Valenzuela, the football team supports each other through the “ubuntu mentality,” where the players believe that “I am because we are.”

    “Ubuntu” is defined as “embodying the various values and virtues of essential humanity.” In other words, players are encouraged to better each other instead of only focusing on individual gain. This includes supporting fellow teammates, both on and off the field.

    “As a teammate, you don’t want to see anyone down,” Valenzuela said. “It hurts to see anyone get injured because it could be anyone’s last play.”

    The 137th playing of the Game is scheduled for Nov. 20.

  2. Wounded, and Not Walking

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    From the head up, 19-year-old Charles H. Wood could have been posing for his senior portrait. At any rate, his noble countenance suggests a person far more mature and prepared to graduate than I in my own rogues’ gallery of commencement pictures taken this past June. Evident in those photographs is only raw petulance at being asked, yet again, to strain my head at a neck-snapping angle, then stupidly hold an artificial rose before my lips as though it were a flute. Charles, on the other hand, looks like a decent person who posed like he was told. If you fix your gaze upon his face, you see a boy who might one day have been president.

    Except his face, one among many at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library’s “Portraits of Wounded Bodies: Photographs of Civil War Soldiers from Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1863–1866,” is the last to register at first glance. Instead of a future president, you see a man missing a left arm. Blown off by gunshot at the Civil War battle of Petersburg, Va., 1865, the arm was amputated on the field, leaving in its place a dimpled stump. Charles would not die of injury-related complications, but his was a rare example of wartime treatments progressing according to plan. With an average of 504 deaths per day, and more men dying from uninformed surgical interventions than actual injuries, the Civil War left in its wake fodder for an unfortunately comprehensive photographic catalog of battlefield wounds.

    Compared with the other images on exhibit, Charles’ is relatively tame. Photographed on his deathbed, the 18-year-old private Henry Krowlow was only vaguely corporeal, a wasted skeleton upon which flaccid limbs of uneven lengths were draped. The violently mustachioed Thomas H. Mathews was marked by an even more violent saber gash below his left eye. An image of John Miller evoked a jigsaw where someone cruelly forgot to piece in his left thigh. His hands cradle a gangrenous stump that resembles more a crusty boule than the remains of something that once promoted mobility.

    The photographs were drawn from the compilations of Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou, chief surgeon at the Harewood U.S. Army General Hospital in Washington, D.C. Bontecou, believed to have originated the application of photography to military surgical history. He intended the photos to be of educational value to future doctors while maintaining portraiture conventions. Soldiers’ faces are `free of the requisite grimaces, replaced instead by stoic expressions evincing none of what was surely intolerable pain. In one example of convention, Thomas L. Roscoe, too weak to set his head straight upon his shoulders, was propped against the wall with a wooden plank. Even with his back to the photographer, his hands were neatly arranged on his knees, and his head betrayed only the slightest droop.

    It is a theme common to the entirety of Bontecou’s work: a jarring disfigurement is no grounds for an inartistic presentation. It was an intelligent move that does not hide but rather dramatizes the reality of his subjects’ suffering. Rather than the crumpled, wasted faces of the weak, we see the enduring, steadfast faces of the strong. We sympathize with and pity the former, but the latter wins our respect.

    In the library foyer one can find background to the doctors themselves and their medical practices. Medical practitioners quickly deduced that illness and injury would pose a more significant threat to life than bullets and bayonets, and established the United States Sanitary Commission to ensure improvements of wartime medical treatment. Lest we think these emissaries of Asclepius saw nothing but whitewashed hospital interiors, here on display are the books and writings of Civil War doctors — in a letter by a Confederate surgeon, the author describes helping himself to a “churn of excellent buttermilk” one moment and being nearly shot at the next. A hallmark of wartime medical practice was the element of surprise, both in the volatility of the surroundings and the nature of encountered maladies. Doctors, nurses and volunteers — most notably, Walt Whitman and Louisa May Alcott, who wrote copiously about their experiences — were as entrenched in the turbulent proceedings as their warrior patients.

    We expect bravery on the battlefield, exulting in the boldness of our heroes who know no fear. Less expected is bravery from the prone on their silver gurneys, wincing at the slightest touch like children before their first vaccines. Pry the guns from their hands, and gingerly lift their crisp uniforms from their battered bodies, and suddenly they are no longer soldiers but patients, free to fear as much as they like.

    Yet in these photographs is a palpable defiance, not the anxious tremors of the fallen. Perhaps these men and boys were just following Bontecou’s instructions, angling their stumps and scrapes bravely before the camera because that is how they were asked to pose. Consider, though, what brought them to war in the first place: the relentless pursuit of principles on which their entire lives, and the endurance of their homeland, would rest.

    Charles H. Wood was fighting for his country. And what is an arm to a country, anyway?