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Is outdated strength program putting Dallas Cowboys at risk?


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Dallas Cowboys Stretching

Dallas Cowboys Stretching - STACK

Following his first offseason workout with the Denver Broncos, DeMarcus Ware raved about the “state-of-the-art” training program employed by his new team.

“It’s an unconventional type of way of working out," Ware said, "but it’s the best way to keep guys on the field and keep them flexible, but also being able to maintain a guy through their whole career.

"We did sleds, we did leg slides, Keiser machines. You name it, it was in there. Really state-of-the-art.”

RELATED: Watch video of Ware's offseason training

During his nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys — the team that drafted him in 2005 — the All-Pro linebacker twice led the NFL in sacks, made seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, and, lucky for him, missed only three games — all in 2013.

Many of Dallas’s other marquee names have not been so lucky. Over the past two seasons, the Cowboys ranked third in games missed by starters because of injury, according to the Dallas Morning News. Players missed a combined 77 games to injuries in 2013, ESPNDallas.com reported, including key starters DeMarco Murray (two games), Miles Austin (five) and Sean Lee (five). Nearly a third of those missed games (23 of 77) were due to hamstring injuries.

Things got off to a bad start this season when Lee, Ware’s heir apparent as the leader of Dallas’ defense, suffered a torn left ACL during organized team activities. The linebacker is expected to miss the entire 2014 season. And while Lee’s injury, which occurred when he slipped and collided with rookie Zack Martin, looked to be a freak occurrence, other recent issues — such as two more defenders missing practice this week due to hamstring injuries — suggest a larger, perhaps systemic, problem.


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Dallas Cowboys Stretching


Is static stretching making the Cowboys more prone to injury?

RELATED: Watch video of Zack Martin's pre-draft training

Indeed, recent comments by head coach Jason Garrett imply that the Cowboys' coaching staff might be behind the times when it comes to their strength and conditioning approach. Garrett told the Dallas Morning News:

“Typically, we’ve done kind of the old team stretch, and we’re experimenting with dynamic warm-up stuff that I’ve done in my past, other coaches have done in the past. You try to be innovative, you try to evolve, you get feedback from the players, you get feedback from the coaches. We just try to help our players get themselves more ready to practice and hopefully stay healthier over time.”

"Experimenting with dynamic warm-up stuff?"

Pretty much every strength and conditioning coach will tell you that a dynamic warm-up is necessary in  any practice or workout. It increases blood flow, elevates core temperature and activates the nervous system connection between brain and muscles. Here’s Bradley Arnett, C.S.C.S. and owner of NX Level Sports Performance, who’s worked with J.J. Watt and other top athletes, on hamstring injuries and the need for a dynamic warm-ups:

“Always warm-up dynamically—constant motion on your feet—and always, always have a lateral movement concept to your warm-up to do just that. A warm-up through blood flow is important so you don't over stretch hamstrings in a linear motion until they are warm and hips are opened up.” Read more.

Over-stretching an unprepared muscle can cause more issues on its own. The Cowboys have reportedly added six workout machines and a ballet bar to address the hamstring issue, but if players use this equipment without properly warming up first, the solution may be worse than the problem.

With so much at stake, it’s the responsibility of the coaching staff to be on the cutting edge of the latest innovations in performance training and sports medicine. If a dynamic warm-up is foreign to the current Cowboys’ protocol, there’s a serious issue with the team's strength and conditioning program.

This article originally appeared on STACK.com: Is an Outdated Strength Program Putting Dallas Cowboys Players at Risk?

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