Derek Dravis, WSU Athletics Photographer

In the 2012 and 2013 football seasons, injuries were causing Winona State University football players to miss a significant number of games.

Justin Geijer and Connie Mettille, professors in WSU’s Health, Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences Department, decided that needed to change.

The duo created the Restorative Flow Movement Pattern—or RoFlow—in a collaborative effort with head coach Tom Sawyer and the WSU football coaches, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches to reach the core of the injuries sidelining their players.

The program features yoga-like poses and combines them with functional movement patterns, such as squatting, lunging and balancing, so WSU athletes can better utilize their athleticism on the field, according to Geijer.

But their physical improvements are not all that has been noticed.

“There have been improvements in grade point average, as well as reported improvements in sleep quality and stress management,” Geijer said.

When it was first implemented, student-athletes like Warrior wide receiver Cameron Johnson were skeptical.

“I wasn’t entirely sure about what we were getting ourselves into as a team. I wasn’t aware of what we were going to get out each session,” Johnson said. “Given the difficulty of the various movements we did in our first session, I felt that some of the movements we were doing were unnecessary.”

Yet as time went on, Johnson found the moves gave his athleticism a boost and saw it as imperative for his team.

“Thanks to Connie, I now understand the reasons behind every single movement we do. After being sore from a long week of practice or a physical football game, RoFlow is an excellent way to work out that soreness and get a quality workout out of it as well,” Johnson said.

Balance, coordination and core strength were a few of the advantages Johnson said he has noticed improve since starting the program.

The program also utilizes trained student volunteers from the Health, Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences Department at the RoFlow sessions. The student volunteers not only provide additional form correction for the athletes but also apply classroom learning to real world situations.

This is an example of how athletics and academics can partner for the betterment of both departments, Mettille said.

“The advent and implementation of RoFlow patterns for the WSU Football team are a testament to the dedication and creativity of both the WSU Football staff and the HERS Department,” Mettille said. “The benefits to the student-athletes’ well-being, as well as the educational growth of the HERS students are immeasurable.”

For football Head Coach Tom Sawyer, having his players back on the field in full capacity with a reduced risk of injury is all he needs to continue putting his faith in Mettille and Geijer’s expertise.

“I knew that, with this program, our injury list would shrink and more game time would be available for our players,” Sawyer said. “This program is revolutionizing the way we train athletes. This will grow to all athletes at WSU and around the country. It is a true advantage for Winona State!”

For more information, contact University Communications at 507-457-5024.

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Samantha Stetzer

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