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Scott Hogan resumes outdoor running after knee injury

13 February 2015

Brentford FC Head of Medical Neil Greig talks about striker's recovery from surgery and time in P

Brentford striker Scott Hogan is continuing his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury and has now started to run outside.

Scott has begun working on the grass at Brentford’s Training Ground after returning from a two-week period with one of the world’s leading knee rehabilitation specialists.

Scott suffered the injury at the end of August, in a match against Rotherham United, and underwent reconstructive surgery early in September.

He spent the first two weeks of January in Philadelphia working with world renowned Conditioning Coach Bill Knowles.

Neil Greig, Brentford FC Head of Medical, said the striker has been making good progress and was on course to join in with certain aspects of team training before the end of the 2014/15 season.

However, he stressed it was very that important Scott recovered from his injury completely and was strong enough to ensure there was no recurrence, which meant he was unlikely to be training fully until pre-season.

Neil spoke to about Scott’s injury and the progress that had been made both in West London and in America.

“Scott has had a significant knee injury,” said Neil. “He was in a brace for six weeks.

“The common belief is that three months after suffering this sort of injury a player should be running outside.

“However such a timescale driven programme often leads to disappointment and running at that stage was never in our minds.

“He needed the initial four months building the strength in his knee, which we measured at regular interval to monitor progress.

“We wanted to get it strong and stable prior to visiting Bill Knowles, in order to get the greatest benefit from the camp.

“Bill has been reconditioning athletes following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries for 25 years.

“He is a world leader in his field and his experience is vast.

“I have worked with Bill previously and I felt it was important to get Scott that expert support prior to going to the next stage of his recovery.”

Neil and Scott went to Philadelphia at the start of the year.

The trip followed a meeting with Scott’s surgeon which showed that the recovery from the injury was on track.

Scott also had a short break from his rehabilitation programme and Neil said that gave the striker a lift.

“Arguably we were holding Scott back before we went to America,” said Neil.

“It would have been very easy for us to look at Scott’s strength and control data, say he is strong enough and start him running outside.

“But I knew he would improve his technique during the camp in Philadelphia, I knew that he would be able to go there and be coached to run and run well.

“We needed to develop Scott’s trust in his knee before going to that outdoor stage, which is a big psychological barrier for some players.

“Everything at the camp was geared to aid athletic performance.

“The other guys working there are top NFL, NHL, NBA players.

“There is a conveyor belt of top athletes working there and visiting Bill.

“The mind-set is completely focussed on improvement and reconditioning of the athlete. 

“It is an inspirational place to work and Bill is an inspirational guy to work with.

“The best I’ve seen.”

Neil outlined how Scott worked when he was in Philadelphia.

“The first week of the camp, in particular, focussed on a number of techniques related to running,” he explained.

“The main thing in that first week was the coaching of technique.

“Each technique led into the next and each was geared towards the action of being able to accelerate to high speed and decelerate quickly and safely.

“Every morning there would be two to two-and-a-half hours of technique work then a rest at lunch and second session in the afternoon, putting it in to practice along with whole body conditioning sessions.

“Scott would learn by repeating the movements.

“Practicing techniques repeatedly enabled Scott to recognise the early technical deficiencies he faced, problem solve and then perform the movement correctly.

“The difference in him as an athlete from day one to day four was very evident.

“Scott got quite frustrated at times in the first couple of days but by day four the techniques became more natural, more ingrained in the motor cortex of his brain.

“At that point Scott was able to begin working on his acceleration and deceleration, starting and stopping quickly, which is vital for guys with ACL injuries.

“We have integrated those techniques into our programme since we have been back.

“Scott has been working outside twice a week and next week we will move to being on the grass three times a week – one day on, one day off.”

Neil said that a phrase Bill used had struck a chord with Scott.

“Bill used the analogy of a dimmer switch and suggested that any serious injury will have the effect of turning down the dimmer switch, which governs the ability of the muscles to generate high levels of force and power,” he said.

“This not only effects the injured leg, but also the uninjured leg, which may partly explain the increased rates of injury suffered by players following an initial significant injury if these deficits are not addressed.

“Getting Scott strong is relatively easy, however producing powerful movements quickly will take some time, but that dimmer switch needs to get turned back up before Scott can start football specific activities.

“Bill’s strategy is to get an athlete to their top level in terms of power and speed, to give them the ability to generate muscular force quickly.

“Scott took that on board and understood it.

“Bill believes an athlete needs to recondition their whole body and mind, rather than simply rehabilitate the knee.

“He believes that subtle alteration in thought process can be the difference between getting an athlete back, and getting him back with the longevity to stay back, season after season.

“Bill discussed with Scott that he needs to regain that top-end power, in order to stop the injury reoccurring, or one happening on the other side of the body, which you see happen a lot.

“He pulled no punches and didn’t try to dress-it up as anything other than hard work.

“Scott appreciated that honesty.

“Scott is only 22 and the longevity part is very important to him.”

Neil said he regularly discussed Scott’s progress with Brentford Manager Mark Warburton.

He said the most important thing for the Brentford boss was to have Scott back with the best possible chance of maintaining his fitness.

“Mark Warburton is supportive of our approach,” said Neil.

“He would like Scott back as quickly as possible but, more importantly, he wants him back and staying back.

“We talk about Scott a lot and he is fully on board.

“The report from the surgeon said that Scott should be looking at a pre-season return, Bill Knowles also reiterated that message.

“I don’t think it would be in the player’s interests for us to go against the advice of guys who are leaders in their respective fields.”

Neil said the medical team were working hard to ensure Scott was part of the squad as much as possible, including finding a way that he could attend the players’ Christmas party in Dublin.

“We felt it was important he went to Dublin with the lads and since then he has come out of his shell a lot.

“Psychologically it been tough, having just arrived at the club and immediately sustained such a serious injury, he was in danger of becoming distanced from the group.

“Attending the Dublin trip addressed that and the lads made sure that he was safe and sound so he returned in one piece.

“They’re a great group like that, they look after each other.”

Neil said that there was a long-term aim to have Scott ready for the start of the 2015/16 season but no dates had been set for specific goals.

“The aim is to have Scott involved in pre-season as every other member of the squad is,” added Neil.

“We will look to get him involved in predictable running and warm-ups with the squad by the end of the season, doing things that make him part of the team.

“He will then move in to unpredictable drills and that is when we will find out about the power and movement of the knee.

“His progressions to date have all been based on objective, scientific measures, rather than time, which will continue until his return.

“As he achieves the targeted measures, he will progress to the next stage.

“If you work to time-based targets and you miss it you are disappointed, however by working objectively there is always a short-term aim to achieve within the overall long-term goal.

“As a medical team, along with Matt Springham’s excellent Science and Conditioning team, we will continue to set these aims for Scott and I have absolutely no doubt that he will continue to hit these targets and more.

“It is certainly great to see him out on the grass now.”

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