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Injury Prone Football Players: Danario Alexander

November 19, 2011

(Part of the Football Injury series. Other articles in this series: High Ankle Sprains and Sam Bradford and Football Injuries: Sprained Neck.)

Injuries are a part of football. Every player in the league will suffer an injury at some point in their career, whether it’s a torn ACL, pulled hamstring or concussion. The good news is that most players heal and get back on the field.

However, some players are injury prone and their production amounts to a broken dance. Danario Alexander just might be on of those players. Will he ever be healthy? That’s a good question.

Short History of Danario Alexander’s Football Career

In 2009, Danario Alexander was named to the Sports Illustrated first team All American for his standout senior season at Mizzou were he played all 13 games, including the Orange Bowl, and finished with 113 receptions, 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 15.8 yards per reception and 137 yards per game.

You’d think he would easily go in the middle of the 2010 draft pick, but he was largely ignored due to a February 2010 surgery to his left knee to repair an injury he suffered in the Senior Bowl. That surgery forced him to miss workouts at the NFL combine and his pro day at Mizzou.

That didn’t end his chances of playing for the NFL.

Desperate for a wide receiver who could stretch the field, St. Louis signed him in late August 2010. He was cut and handed over to the practice squad in early September only to be brought back to replace the injured Mark Clayton.

On his debut game, he scored his first touchdown, catching a 38 yard pass from Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. His prospects looked beautiful. Couple of weeks later, however, he tweaked his left knee on the practice field and hobbled off. He eventually underwent surgery, which was the same knee he had four other surgeries.

It’s 2011 and Danario is out again, this time for a strained hamstring. That injury is easy and not a concern. In fact, undergo a little PRP therapy and he might only be out for three weeks. A knee injury, however, is not that easy.

There really is no way of telling how long Danario will be in the league. I hope for the best, but a player with a chronic injury like he’s had with his knee is tough to overcome.

What could he do to extend his career? Prevention of further injury to that knee amounts to strengthening the muscles around it. Here are other exercises that I recommend from my injury prevention program for football players:

Avoid Vulnerable Positions

Caving in of the knee is one example of a vulnerable position. This occurs when you bend down with the leading leg and lean the knee to the inside. This puts tremendous pressure on the ligament. Instead, the knee should bend straight down, over the foot.

Increase Flexibility

Calf, quadracep, hamstring, inner thigh and hip flexor stretches are the best approaches to improve the flexibility of your leg. The idea is to reduce stiffness, post-exercise soreness and improve range of motion.

Increase Strength

Revisit the Spring Training Program, particularly the lower body exercise. When the muscles surrounding the knee are strong, the ligament is afforded a level of protection from tearing. If your leg muscles are weak, then more pressure is put on the ligament.

Increase Proprioception

Proprioception is just a fancy word for balance. Common in treatment in injured athletes, proprioception exercises can be used for prevention, too. The one-leg squat and reach is a great exercise to improve balance.

Include Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises are designed to produce explosive power. They usually involve jumping, so the landing is critical: it must be soft. Great polymetric exercises that are designed to prevent ACL injuries are lateral hops over a cone, forward/backward hops over a cone, single leg hops over a cone, vertical jumps with headers and scissors jump.

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.


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