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I get a ton of stingers when I hit, any way to stop it from happening?

A football stinger occurs when the brachial plexus, which is located on the base of the neck, is stretched or compressed. The brachial plexus is formed by four cervical nerve roots (C5-C8) and the first thoracic nerve root. These nerve roots branch out and essentially innervate the muscles of the upper extremity. When athletes get this injury, they feel a stinging, burning, or numbness of the whole arm. When the symptoms are completely resolved, you should stretch and strengthen the muscles of the neck. In addition, there are pads that can be attached to the shoulder pads of the football uniform that can prevent excess motion of the neck and stretch of the brachial plexus.

It is always a good idea to see a physician for proper evaluation and to ensure that it is appropriate for you to begin these exercises. The physician may refer you to an appropriate healthcare provider, such as an athletic trainer, to assist you with a progressive rehabilitation program or to determine the appropriate protective device.

(This answer provided for NATA by the King College Athletic Training Education Program.)

There may not be an exercise to avoid a stinger, however, having a strong neck may help reduce the chances of injury. One exercise to help build your neck muscle stability is a ball chin tuck exercise.  From a quadruped position (on your hands and knees), place a stability ball between the top of your head and a wall. From this position, slowly extend your face forward towards the ground while keeping the top of your head in contact with the ball, and then back up to the starting position. This exercise helps strengthen the deep muscles of your neck that help support your head and cervical spine. Also, you can perform some neck flexion, extension, and side bends while lying on a bench. Look to perform 12-20 slow controlled reps for each direction. These exercises will help strengthen and improve the endurance of the neck muscles in all directions. Stingers may also be caused by you leading with the top of your head. When making a tackle, strive to keep your eyes open, head up, and aim your face mask at the center of your opponent's chest or inside shoulder. Run through the ball carrier while wrapping your arms around his waist, driving him to the ground.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.