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New technique to prevent muscle injuries gets NFL’s attention

Jennifer Baldino Bonett
Baltimore Ravens
ChristianaCare physical therapists Brian Catania and Travis Ross trained the Baltimore Ravens on ways to prevent injuries in the trunk muscles.

Nearly a decade’s worth of work by a pair of ChristianaCare physical therapists has yielded a new approach to preventing muscle strains – one that’s caught the eye of some NFL teams.

We talked to Brian Catania and Travis Ross about this new approach to core muscles.

Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne interviews ChristianaCare physical therapists Brian Catania and Travis Ross.

A study on Brian Catania and Travis Ross' work and its success was recently published in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation .

And the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and the Baltimore Ravens are buying into it.

The screening tool - called the core sling screen - tests the strength of core muscles, then is used to create a specialized exercise program to strengthen those muscles.

Weakness in those muscles can lead to common athletic injuries including strains in the abdomen, groin, quadriceps, and lower back.

Ross says the treatment is to prevent back pain from fatty deposits that go into your core muscles causing the pain.

"We have a target approach that helps strengthen those muscles that actually get weaker and have fatty infiltration," said Ross. "Sometimes we can kind of get in there and wait those muscles up and prevent that chronic low back pain from becoming a cycle where they're returning and returning so we can address the low back pain and the weakness. We can sometimes reduce the chronicity of the condition."

Catania says they presented their findings to NFL trainers.  

"They were doing a whole series on the spine and felt like the core was an important component of that, so they asked if we would present it at their symposium in March of 2021," Catania said.

Catania says some former University of Delaware athletic training students he taught now working in the NFL helped make the connection with the league.

Trainers with the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens met with Catania and Ross to learn how to use the treatment to prevent injuries to their players.

But the two note the screening and exercises can help anyone - not just athletes.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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