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McNeese State head football coach Matt Viator. (American Press Archives)

McNeese State head football coach Matt Viator. (American Press Archives)

McNeese athletes using inserts to increase stabilization

Last Modified: Monday, April 14, 2014 1:37 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The McNeese football team had a bounce-back season this year, reaching the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, thanks in part to a reduction in injuries.

Team doctor Dr. Tyson Green of the Center for Orthopaedics spearheaded an effort to reduce injuries on the team by fitting players with custom orthotics, shoe inserts that help increase stabilization. Green will host a free seminar on the inserts.

“We have a meeting on a regular basis with the McNeese coaches. We talk about strength and conditioning, different things involved in that, injury prevention and performance improvement,” Green said. “One thing that was suggested was looking at injuries from the 2012 season and seeing if we could do anything to prevent them during the 2013 season. One thing we did was custom orthotics, or shoe inserts, for every player that was invited to camp. We looked not only at what could prevent injuries, but at their individual positions to see if we could improve performance. We saw a drastic decrease in the injury bug and were very happy with that. We also saw a lot more game speed, quickness and acceleration at the different positions. We were pleased with the results of that and are continuing to improve on that each year.”

The inserts help prevent a variety of lower leg injuries.

“It keeps the foot stable,” Green said. “No matter what foot type there is, it is something that can go inside the cleat. The cleat can only do so much. The inside does not work that well. The insert prevents a lot of excessive motion. If someone has a problem in their foot, it makes their knee have added pressure and leads to ACL tears and other injuries. We made it stable inside the shoe, and that took pressure off the foot, ankle, knee and on up. The most common injuries seen on the football field are ankle injuries and knee injuries. We had ACL injuries left and right, sprained ankles and worse within the ankle. This last year we cut it down significantly. We could identify the injuries this year to a wet field or getting caught underneath somebody, but not just meaningless injuries.”

The inserts were customized for each player.

“If you take a certain part of an athlete, whether it is a running back that has to cut really hard, and make the foot able to pivot a little bit easier when they are on the forefoot, up on their toes, you can cut a bit harder,” Green said. “It helps them come out of their cuts a little bit easier. For receivers, it is similar, they can come out of the breaks stronger. For linemen, it was more for stance and stability. With quarterbacks, kind of like a pitcher has a mound they can push off against, it was about helping them push off and get more velocity on the ball, with defensive backs backpedaling. They all had different areas of emphasis and different types of orthotics.”

Inserts were also made for the women’s basketball team.

“They have made a significant improvement for our program and our sport,” said McNeese head coach Brooks Donald Willams. “We are very fortunate to have Dr. Tyson Green as one of our team physicians. He takes great pride in progressing our program with custom orthotics. They help our athletes to compete at the highest level, free of constant pain and injury. The orthotics have made a significant difference in relieving pain as well as injury prevention in a sport that has so much wear and tear on the lower extremities from the everyday, year-round, rigorous training.”

Green said injuries are more problematic at FCS schools like McNeese, which has fewer scholarships than Bowl Subdivision schools.

“The coaching staff was ecstatic because they had their whole team going into the playoffs, rather than injuries left and right,” he said. “At SEC schools, they have stars sitting on the bench. In the Southland Conference, you don’t have that depth. If you lose a starter, it is a big part of your team. We have to make sure they stay injury free. The players were very accepting. I was there all the time making modifications all the time. If there was too much rubbing in a certain area, or an overcorrection in the first insert and they had some pain, I could adjust the insert by shaving down a portion of it or adding some cushion to a part of it. There are different materials for where they are going to put pressure. The linemen had something called slow-release Plastazote that allowed their foot to sink into it for stability. The other positions used a harder material, like a carbon fiber. Most of the time we will do a mold of their foot, a plaster mold, to get an exact replica. We send it off to a lab that makes the base of the orthotic. We add any modifications to it once it gets here.”

Green said the inserts are part of an effort to prevent injuries.

“We are looking to expand it to different sports,” he said. “To do custom orthotics on each player’s cleats, and to do positional-based modifications. McNeese is the only school in the country to do that. We are trying to be more preventive rather than reactive.”

The inserts can also help people who exercise regularly or play sports recreationally.

“Anybody can benefit from stability,” he said. “I wear them in my shoes every day, for standing and walking. We are going to talk about the athletics and everyday walker, jogger, runner, the weekend warriors who play basketball on weekends. What they can do to prevent injury and increase performance. These inserts help with stability and alignment. They vary in price. Some are prefabricated and can run as low as $30-$50. Custom-made ones can be as much as several hundred. We take each case individually.”

Learn more about orthotic inserts for athletes from Green at a free seminar at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the Center for Orthopaedics, at 1747 Imperial Blvd.

For more information, call 721-2903 or visit

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