Simply put, when you hit your head, your brain moves around and can bang against the inside of your skull. This can cause your brain to bruise or lead to tearing of blood vessels and injury to the nerves, resulting in a concussion – a temporary loss of normal brain function.
Concussions and other brain injuries are fairly common for athletes. According to a recent study, high school athletes in nine sports sustained an estimated 137,000 concussions during the 2007-2008 school year. High-impact sports such as football, boxing, lacrosse, soccer, basketball and hockey pose a higher risk of head injury, even with the use of protective headgear.
You don’t have to lose consciousness to have a concussion
So you’ve hit your head – but do you have a concussion? Here are some of the signs:
"Seeing stars" and feeling dazed, dizzy, or lightheaded
Nausea or vomiting
Blurred vision, unevenly sized pupils and sensitivity to light
Slurred speech or saying things that don't make sense
Difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
Difficulty with coordination or balance
Feeling anxious or irritable for no apparent reason
Feeling overly tired
Memory loss or forgetfulness (if you don't know your name – there's a good chance you have a concussion).
The signs of concussion are not always recognized, which is why having an athletic trainer who is specifically trained to recognize concussions or a medical professional who is trained in concussion management is essential. They can assess your injury and determine if you have a concussion. Often baseline testing – when players are tested for neurological responses prior to the season – can be helpful in evaluating if you have a concussion.
Dangers of a Concussion:
Continuing to play or returning to activity too soon will put you at risk for serious injury – even if you feel fine. If your brain hasn't healed properly from a concussion and you get hit again (even if it's with less force), you can develop long-term disabilities or die.
You Have a Concussion, Now What?
First, stop playing. Don't return to play even if you feel fine – your brain needs time to heal. The amount of time you need to recover depends on how long the symptoms last. Healthy teens can usually resume normal activities within a few weeks, but each situation is different.
Your athletic trainer and/or doctor will determine how long you should sit out. Until then, it’s important to get plenty of rest for both your body and mind. Activities that require concentration and attention (like studying, test taking, or even playing videogames) may make the symptoms worse and delay recovery.
Some accidents can not be avoided, but you can do a lot to prevent a concussion by taking simple precautions:
Wearing appropriate headgear and safety equipment.
Learn appropriate techniques. In sports like football, learn how to tackle without leading with your head, and in soccer, avoid heading the ball when it is kicked at high velocity from close range.
Remember, most people with concussions recover just fine with appropriate treatment. But it's important to take proper steps if you suspect a concussion because it can be serious.
You can learn more about concussion safety by visiting the California Athletic Trainers’ Association website at www.ca-at.org or the Youth Sports Safety Alliance at www.youthsportssafetyalliance.org. California Assemblymembers Mary Hayashi and Jerry Hill have recently introduced legislation that would help protect youth athletes from catastrophic injuries. To see the bill and access sample letters of support to send to your legislators, visit www.ca-at.org/letterwrite.
Each year athletes take to the outdoors during the sweltering summer months and each summer a few of these athletes suffer from heat related illness.
Heat illness is a serious condition that can be prevented if you pay attention to the warning signs. Most common during the middle of the summer but not limited to this time, heat illness can affect anyone who over exerts themselves under the sun, but the people most at risk include; overweight or large athletes, the elderly, children, and those who are poorly acclimated to the high temperatures.
Particular attention should also be paid to those athletes that require additional padding or helmets, like football players (specific safety guidelines for these athletes can be found by visiting the National Athletic Trainers' Association www.nata.org/statements/consensus/heatillness.pdf).
So what is heat illness and how can it be prevented?
Simply put, heat illness is the body's inability to cool itself. While our bodies are generally hot to begin with, maintaining a constant temperature of around 98.6 degrees farenheight, there are internal and external factors that combined together, can produce a potentially lethal reaction.
We create our own internal body heat through the process of metabolism - the process by which our bodies convert nutrients to energy. This process, called basal metabolism, is the base amount of nutrient conversion the body needs to sustain life.
Another form of heat production occurs from muscular activity or through exercise. The blood rushing into the muscles during exercise raises the body's core temperature and causes heat to be produced in the extremities.
The body's natural reaction to the rise in temperature is to sweat - perspiration is the body's natural way of cooling itself - but after a certain point the body loses its ability to naturally cool itself and begins to suffer from heat related illness.
There are three stages of heat related illness, each with very distinct characteristics. By learning to recognize the symptoms you can prevent the problem from escalating into a potentially life threatening incident.
Heat Cramps: Characterized by involuntary muscle spasms, profuse sweating, normal pulse and respirations, possible dizziness. _Treatment_: sit in a cool place, massage cramps with ice, stretch, drink water and diluted electrolyte drinks. Heat Exhaustion: Skin becomes cool and clammy, profuse sweating, dizzy or disoriented, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and the pulse is weak. _Treatment_: Remove wet clothing and equipment, cool rapidly (ice water on skin or submerge in ice bath), use fan if possible, may need IV fluids. Heat Stroke: Increased irritability followed by apathy, very disoriented and unsteady, pulse is strong and rapid, skin is hot and dry, blood pressure will drop convulsions, and possibly coma. _Treatment_: Activate 911 response immediately - this is a medical emergency and can lead to death. Cool rapidly with ice or submerge in ice bath, treat for shock, and transfer to trauma center as soon as possible.
All three types of heat related illness should be treated without delay because progression from one stage to the next can happen suddenly and without warning.
To avoid heat related illness one should:
Stay hydrated properly with water and diluted electrolyte drinks. When the body becomes dehydrated it loses its ability to properly cool itself.
Make sure you acclimatize to your environment; if you spend all day indoors in a controlled environment you are more likely to suffer from heat related illness when you exercise outdoors in the heat.
Remember to rehydrate after daily exercise; keep a weight chart that is measured both pre and post exercise so you know how much water you need to replace, 8 oz. of water for every pound of body weight lost.
Wear loose comfortable clothing; synthetics are best for wicking water from the skin.
If you have a pre-existing health problem, ask your doctors advice before jumping into outdoor activities.
Always remember -- stay hydrated, keep cool and you will enjoy the hot summer months.
Once the long days of summer arrive, kids will race to dust off their bikes, skateboards or hit the pools. But the California Athletic Trainers' Association (CATA), suggests parents consider these stay safe tips before sending their kids and teens out to play or participate in recreational sports:
Choose Age-Appropriate Activities: Determine which activities would be appropriate for your children based on their age, skill level, ability and interest.
Fuel Up: Feed kids whole grain, low-fat and nutritious foods that will keep their bodies going strong. Heat can decrease appetite, but it's important to eat regularly, especially fruits that contain water to avoid dehydration.
Beat the Heat: Depending on where you live, the long days of summer can be brutal. Kids avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day from 10 AM to 3 PM and always drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated before, during and after each activity.
Protect the Face: Apply sunscreen products to kids' faces and lips that contain an SPF of 30 or more to help avoid sunburn.
Warm Up First: Children's muscles should be warm before starting an activity. Berardini suggests a light aerobic activity for 1-2 minutes to avoid pulled muscles or joint injuries. Moderation is the key to avoiding injury.
Control Speed: Whether in a skateboard park or on a long bike ride, kids and teens should always be aware of others and control their speed. They may be "Going for the Gold," but kids should be smart when it comes to speed to avoid injury or a collision with others.
Know When to Stop: Kids and teens should be aware of their energy level and concentration during an activity. They could risk exhaustion, heat stroke or even an overuse injury as a result of repeated action.
Im a certified athletic trainer and Im also a triathlete. The weather down here in southern California has been unseasonably wonderful lately I went for a ride today and Im pretty sure I got a tan! While riding, I was wondering what I should blog about and low and behold, an idea flew right past me! As I watched Speedy Gonzales pass me, I noticed how horrible his form was. After the bitterness wore off that this guy with horrible form could ride so much faster than me, I thought it would be interesting if I blogged about proper cycling form. Riding with proper form can prevent overuse injury, unnecessary soreness, and can also lead to more speed. Who doesnt want more speed, right?
Making sure ones bicycle is the right size and fitted appropriately is step one. Your local bike shop can help you out here, or they can tell you where to go to get the help you need. Step two is mechanics in the saddle. Here are just a few tips based on my education and training regarding posture, biomechanics, and efficient and functional movement:
1. When cycling, try to keep your neck in neutral as best you can. This means dont have your head so far up that your neck is cranked into extension. Keeping your neck near neutral and looking upward with your eyes can help keep your neck muscles, trapezius muscles, and other shoulder musculature more relaxed, and consequently less tight.
2. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. If your shoulders are up near your ears, youve got a problem for reasons similar to the things listed in item 1. Your upper trapezius muscles and your latissimus muscles should be relaxed and your rhomboids should be the muscles that are contracted. This will keep your shoulder blade flush against the rib cage in a more stable position and lead to less tightness in your shoulders and form that is more biomechanically sound. This problem is more common among people who take a lot of spin classes because on a spinning bicycle, the bike doesnt move so your shoulders have to. On a real bicycle, the bicycle should rock, not your shoulders.
3. When you pedal, your lower back shouldnt move a whole lot. Your hips and legs should move like pistons without really disturbing your lumbar spine. A good way to prevent lower back pain is to learn to move your legs and hips independently from your lumbar spine. A good way to check this is to have a friend ride behind you (like I did with Speedy) and tell you if your back is wiggling around a lot. If it is, turning on your core muscles and focusing on moving your hips and not your back can help break this habit.
4. The knees. Oh, the knees! When cycling, the knees should move straight up and down. So many cyclists knees are all over the map, making a pattern like a question mark or any other myriad of something thats not a straight line. Remember, the shortest (and most efficient) distance between two points is a straight line. Making this change may eliminate knee or hip pain, and may improve tendonitis or IT band syndrome symptoms.
5. When pedaling, you should have equal weight across the entire ball of your foot. Often when we push and pull on the pedals, we put more pressure on the outside of our foot. Make sure to press evenly throughout the foot during your pedal stroke, and also do not pedal with your toes pointed. If you want the most power out of your pedal stroke, push flat through the ball of your foot and your heel.
All athletes at some point in their careers have been told to stretch. As children stretching is worked into the normal workout routine of practice. Once we move to high school, college, and beyond we forget the importance of stretching. Overall flexibility plays a huge role in injury prevention.
Flexibility is the key. Athletes who are more flexible tend to have fewer problems with muscle strains and cramping. Flexibility can also prevent low back pain and muscle soreness. By remaining flexible in the lower body it puts less stress on the low back and allows for more movement in the hips.
The most common question asked by coaches and athletes about stretching continues to be; is it better to stretch before or after activity. There are two schools of thought here. The first one is that we should stretch before activity in order to increase flexibility prior to a workout or competition, with the idea that this will decrease the risk for injury. The second idea would be to stretch after competition in order to increase overall flexibility when the body is already warm. Some coaches even use this as a cool down.
The answer to this question is actually more complex than one might think. Studies have shown that static stretching before activity (stretching and holding the stretch for longer periods) can decrease the ability of the muscle to produce a powerful contraction. This can significantly decrease athletic performance. What has been proven to be a more effective method is a dynamic warm-up and stretch. Dynamic stretching lengthens the muscle by stretching it thenand contracting them it in quick succession. A warm up should last long enough to warm the core temperature of the body and should cause perspiration. Dynamic stretching should be progressive and should increase in difficulty during the routine and should never be done beyond the capability of the athlete. A good example of a dynamic stretch would be a long arc leg swing. This can be performed by standing with the legs parallel and kicking one leg in front of the body then swinging it back into an extended position and kicking the leg forward again. Each swing should be far enough to cause a slight stretch and the end ranges but should not be painful. This exercise will stretch the hamstrings and the quadriceps muscles. The best way to choose a dynamic exercise for the warm up is to perform a movement specific to the activity and perform it slowly and controlled in order to warm up the muscles that are specific to that activity. The warm up should last long enough to warm the core temperature of the body and should cause perspiration.
This answer usually sparks another question. When should we use static stretching? Static stretching can increase overall flexibility and help to clear lactic acids from the muscles, which can decrease soreness and fatigue after activity. Static stretching should only be done post exercise and should last fifteen to thirty minutes. A static stretching routine can be used as a cool down and should be all encompassing. It should cover all the major muscle groups. The major muscle groups in the legs include the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. One example of static stretching is a standing hamstrings stretch. This is performed by standing with legs together; folding from the hips bring the chest toward the ground. Static stretches are most effective if held for 20-30 seconds.
Static stretching can also be done without a workout. Most of us like to sit at home in front of the TV. This is a great time to stretch. Yoga is also a great option to assist in increased flexibility.
Remember flexibility is the key. Stay Flexible and injury free.
For runners, cyclists, and multisport athletes it is extremely common to develop human movement dysfunction as a result of training. The human body attempts to adapt to your training stimulus but often this training creates muscle imbalances. The muscle imbalance I am referring to is different than the traditional concept of muscle imbalance, when one muscle increases its strength when compared to its opposing muscle (e.g. quadriceps verses hamstring strength). The muscle imbalance will develop "tightness" in a group of muscles which in turn causes the opposing muscle group to "shut off" or to become "weaker". During training and competition, muscles are placed under repetitive stress. In an effort to adapt to this stress many muscles tend to "tighten" up. For example the hip flexors (i.e. rectus abdominis) accelerate hip flexion during running and cycling, because of the constant pattern of overuse the hip flexors become "tight". Not only does this create a loss of range of motion at the hip but this "tightness" creates a unique phenomenon in the body causing the hip extensors to be "shut off" or "weak". This is very common in distance athletes creating muscle imbalances often leading to overuse injuries throughout the body. As an athlete's hip flexors become increasingly "tight" the opposite muscle, gluteus maximus, has a difficult time trying to maximally fire to develop hip extension. Like two ropes pulling on each side of the pelvis, if one is pulling too much this will ultimately cause a shift in the athlete's pelvis leading to changes in static (i.e. standing) and dynamic posture (I.e. running or cycling posture). This posture change can lead to pain from the feet to the back to the neck.
The lower body muscles that commonly become "tight" are the back extensors, hip flexors, adductors, and portions of the hamstring and calf muscles. As a result of these "tight" muscles their opposing muscle groups become "weak" which includes the deep core musculature (i.e. transverse abdominis, internal obliques), gluteus maximus and medius, hip abductors, and anterior lower leg muscles. Experts call this dysfunction the "Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS)", primarily referring to tight hip flexors causing "weak" gluts and tight low back muscles causing a "weak" core.
The negative effects of the LCS can be first reduced through increasing one's flexibility of the "tight" muscles. Participating in habitual stretching of the low back, hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings, and calf musculature will begin to restore function. A kneeling hip flexor stretch would be a great place to start. Second is to work on proper posture and to strengthen the "weak" muscles. Of particular importance is to strengthen the core, particularly the transverse abdominis and other trunk flexors. In addition the gluts need to be reactivated. One exercise that may help is the "bridge". Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, tighten your core (pulling your belly button in) and squeezing your gluts, lift your hips off the ground until your hips are level with your knees and shoulders. Many variations of this exercise can be done. Squeezing a ball between your knees, lifting one leg off the ground at time, or for advanced work, place an exercise ball under your feet. By challenging your balance during this bridging exercise you develop strength in all directions. When combining flexibility for the "tight" and strengthening the "weak" you will be able to reduce you likelihood of overuse injuries and ultimately increase your performance.
As a New Year dawns, health clubs across the country typically enjoy a membership boost as eager souls sign up to make good on their resolutions to "get fit."
But time and time again, enthusiastic newcomers jump into a fitness routine whole-heartedly only to wind up getting hurt, deflating ambition and impeding progress towards attaining their fitness goals.
While the benefits of an active lifestyle are certainly admirable, leaping into a new exercise regime without the proper preparation can result in debilitating injuries and painful ailments.
As with any new activity- it's essential to take the proper precautions before starting. That means working-out at your own pace, getting a proper warm-up and warm-down, listening to your body and not overdoing it, wearing appropriate attire and knowing how to use exercise machines properly.
These tips will help reduce the likelihood of getting injured and increase the chances of a happily fulfilled New Year's Resolution:
Doctor's know best - Check with your doctor first to make sure you're ready for an exercise program
Golden rule: Start slow, and build on to it - Don't just start with two hour workouts, 30 minutes is enough for beginners
Rest in between days to allow your body to recover
Wear the right gear- Those fashionable "urban sneakers" won't cut it in the gym
Speak up- If you don't know how to use a machine, ask a professional how to do so - it's better to ask and avoid injury
Never ever wear one of those plastic suits - They can cause overheating and dehydration - and just aren't necessary
Avoid ankle weights and wrist weights - They can alter your normal movement patterns and cause injury
Don't ignore pain - Feeling soreness or pain after working out is normal- feeling pain during is not - STOP
Treat your body right- You treat your car right (hopefully) - so treat your body right and give it the food, water (lots of water), and rest it needs
Warm-up first, then stretch - Be sure to break a sweat before stretching. Stretching cold muscles can actually be harmful
Warm-down- End all workouts with a cool down of light cardio and stretching to stay flexible and to keep the blood from pooling in the muscles - which can increase soreness.
Mix it up - Doing the same routine can lead to boredom and injuries
Find a buddy for motivation and support
Make it fun- Try to do fitness activities that you enjoy. Getting in shape can be accomplished by all sorts of activities like dancing, swimming, hiking, etc...
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful foot condition that is a common problem among athletes and individuals who are physically active. It is a condition that occurs in middle-age athletes, but can occur among all age groups. Plantar Fasciitis is often seen in recreational athletes, especially runners. Cases are also seen in individuals who are involved in prolonged physical activities. The plantar fascia is a band of thick connective tissue that stretches from the heel bone to the ball of the foot. This structure functions to maintain the integrity of the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia transmits weight across the foot when a person walks or runs.
Signs and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
Swelling and point tenderness around the heel bone or along the arch of the foot.
Pain in the affected area may be the most severe when standing on your feet, getting out of bed first thing in the morning.
Pain in the affected area of the heel or arch decreases as the foot "loosens" up after being used, but pain often returns with prolonged standing or walking.
Home Treatment Tips for those experiencing Plantar Fasciitis:
Rest - Avoid the activity that caused the Plantar Fasciitis for a few days. Take a break from running, jogging, or prolonged standing or walking. Try some alternate forms of exercise like swimming or cycling to keep up your conditioning.
Use of Ice or Cold Therapy- The use of ice after activity, or after as acute episode of symptoms, will help in reducing the severity of symptoms. You can use an ice cup to perform an ice massage to the heel and arch of the foot. Take a small styrofoam or paper cup and fill it three-quarters full with water and place it in the freezer. Leave the cup to freeze overnight. When you are ready to perform the ice massage, peel back the edge of the cup to expose the ice, and rub the ice on the affected area using a circular motion. Another technique to ice an inflamed plantar fascia is to roll the affected foot on a frozen water bottle. Freeze a 1 or .5 liter bottle of water and place your foot on the bottle, rolling back and forth while applying pressure. Either technique can be used 15-20 minutes at a time. Be sure to let the area re-warm itself for at least 40 minutes before re-applying ice to the affected area.
Strengthening and Flexibility Exercises- These exercises are designed to help strengthen the muscles of the foot to assist in supporting the arch and withstand the repetitive stress placed upon them during activity. Also, flexibility exercises will help stretch and loosen the plantar fascia.
Toe Curls- Rest your foot on a towel outstretched on the floor. Place your toes at one end of the towel. Curling your toes, bunch the towel beneath your foot. You can place a small object (like a book or a large soup can) at the opposite end of the towel for added resistance.
Pick Up with Your Toes- Pick up objects, such as marbles, dice, nuts and bolts, with your toes and place them in a nearby container.
Single Leg Balance Exercises- Stand and balance with only your affected foot in the floor, and then progress to using an unstable surface. You can use a very firm pillow to create an unstable surface. For an added degree of difficulty, perform the exercise with your eyes closed.
Towel Stretch- Place a towel, or even a stretch band if one is available, around the toes. Pull on the towel towards yourself to slowly bend back the toes. Keep pulling until tension is felt in the arch of the foot.
Standing Calf Stretch- Stand on the edge of a step with the ball of your foot. Let your body weight allow your heels to drop below the level of the step until a stretch is felt in the arch and in your calf muscles as well.
Use of Anti-Inflammatory Medications- Using anti-inflammatory medications, such as NSAIDs, will help reduce inflammation and pain. Over-the-counter medications will work in most cases. Please consult your physician if you choose to pursue available options using prescription medication.
Shoe Inserts, Arch Supports, or Custom Orthotics- These additional supports will address the problem of a lack of arch support seen in standard soles found in shoes. This lack of support may lead to an increase in tension of the plantar fascia, which can lead to inflammation and injury to the area. These supports are important if one has a flat or a high arch. They will often help relieve symptoms and allow one to continue their normal activities with a minimal amount of discomfort.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, try these home treatment techniques at the first onset of symptoms. Try not to train through the pain, but try and address the problem as it first arises. Heel Spurs can develop as a complication of Plantar Fasciitis that has gone untreated. If symptoms persist or increase, please consult your physician, Podiatrist, or Orthopedic Specialist with experience in Athletic-Related injuries for further evaluation.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word "trainer?" Do you think of Burgess Meredith shouting at Sylvester Stallone in the corner of the boxing ring? Or perhaps "trainer" conjures an image of a person leading a dog obedience class. It could also be someone who trains you to use a computer. But most likely you think of a fitness professional- someone who works with individuals to lose weight or improve their strength and flexibility. Further, you might think "athletic trainer" and "trainer" are one in the same, but it's important to differentiate between the two.
When choosing the best professional to provide fitness or health care services for you or members of your family, it's essential to recognize that there are significant differences between personal trainers and athletic trainers- both in terms of qualifications and practice.
Athletic trainingis practiced by athletic trainers, who are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. An athletic trainer meets the qualifications set by a state regulatory board and/or the Board of Certification.
Certified athletic trainers (ATCs):
Must have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited athletic training education program. Entry-level athletic training education is competency-based in both classroom and clinical settings and mirrors the medical education model. 70 percent of ATCs have earned a master's degree or higher.
Must pass a rigorous and validated certification exam to earn the ATC credential.
Must keep their skills current by participating in lifetime continuing education; the current requirement is 75 contact hours per every three-year reporting period.
Must adhere to practice guidelines set by one national certifying agency.
The practice of athletic training includes:
The provision of physical medicine and rehabilitation services, serving as physician extenders.
Prevention, assessment and treatment acute and chronic injuries and illnesses.
Coordination of medical care with physicians and other allied health care providers.
Making return-to-activity/return-to-work decisions.
Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, professional sports, clinics, hospitals, corporations, industry, performing arts venues, municipalities (e.g. fire and police departments) and the military.
A personal trainer formulates, instructs, monitors and changes an individual's specific exercise program in a fitness or sport setting.
May or may not have higher education in health sciences
May or may not be required to obtain certification
May become certified by any one of numerous agencies that set widely varying education and practice requirements
May or may not participate in continuing education
Assess fitness needs and design appropriate exercise regimens
Work with clients to achieve fitness goals
Help educate the public about the importance of physical activity
Personal trainers work in health clubs, wellness centers and various other locations where fitness activities take place.
My wife's friend recommended that I read a book with the above title by Dr Paul Brand, and felt so strongly about it she sent us the book. The book is about Dr. Brand's experience working with individuals with various conditions such as leprosy, diabetes, and congenital nerve disorders that lead to the absence of pain. Upon reading the first couple of chapters, my view of pain had evolved from pain being a nuisance to pain being a healthy part of being alive.
I have always thought of pain as a negative, imperfect part of the human body. I used to think and imagine what I could be capable of if I did not feel pain. I took this philosophy to my professional life as well, focusing on pain management rather than the cause of the pain.
When the yellow or red check engine light goes on in your car, do you disconnect the dash board so the light goes off and keep driving? No, you research what caused the light to go on and get the problem fixed. It is no different with pain in the body. Pain is our check engine light, and if we ignore it, more serious problems will develop. It is very important we determine the cause of pain so that we can remedy the problem early on. Pain is a warning signal for things like lack of flexibility, training without enough recovery, improper training, muscle imbalance, poor form, etc.
One of the coolest things about being an Athletic Trainer at a college is we are available on campus during practices and competition to address these small problems that can lead to big problems later on. Sure, we treat the big problems as well, but we treat them in such a way that we address the underlying problem so we can prevent future injuries.
So, if you are having pain, don't think of the pain as a negative thing, think of the pain as a warning light. Then get go see a health care professional, such as an Athletic Trainer, to determine the nature of the problem and how to fix the problem so you can get back to doing the activities you enjoy most.
Is it wiser to numb away the pain of injury with ice or to melt the pain away with warmth? And in choosing one over the other – which is
the correct choice? Well, that depends, since all pain is not created equal.
_When Ice is Nice _
Traumatic injuries that occur immediately and cause a sudden onset of pain are known as acute injuries. Typically with injuries such as these, it's fairly obvious what the cause is – usually some form of impact, fall, sprain, or collision. These injuries can cause swelling, bruising, tenderness, pain, and skin that is warm to the touch. This acute phase starts at the time of injury and can
last up to four days, sometimes longer. During these four days ice is the best choice. Ice is also always the best choice post-workout.
When you put ice on an injured area, it decreases inflammation resulting in decreased pain, can stop muscle spasm, and it decreases blood flow which can slow the bleeding in the tissues. If you were to put heat on an acute injury, this may cause increased
inflammation and increased pain.
Application: Usually, you want to ice for about 15-20 minutes to give the ice time to penetrate to your deeper tissues, and you can do this every couple hours if you have the time. Also, make sure you have a thin layer of cloth between your skin and the ice/heat pack…a
bag of frozen peas in a tea towel works great for ice. If you’re using the store-bought chemical ice bags, be careful not to leave it on too long as you may burn your skin. If, however, you are using a plastic bag with crushed ice or ice cubes, you can put it right on your skin.
When Heat is Neat
After the first 4-5 days, inflammation should be just about under control and it is safer to use heat. Keep in mind, though, if you still have swelling or significant pain, you’ll want to continue using ice and may want to think about seeing your physician if you haven’t already.
Heat is generally used for chronic injuries or conditions that have developed over a long period of time. Chronic injuries usually
present as sore, stiff, nagging pain. In these cases, heat helps reduce muscle spasm and stimulate superficial blood flow, bringing more oxygen and nutrients with it. Heat can help the tissue feel more flexible, but research shows most types of heat don’t reach the deep tissues, so if you’re looking to get bang for your buck as far as pain relief goes, apply ice to your injuries. Also, athletes with chronic injuries will often use heat before exercise to loosen joints and relax tight muscles, but an active warm up (jogging or biking) is much more effective.
Application: Heat should be applied to an injury or aching muscle for no more than 20 minutes. As with ice, never apply heat directly to your skin, and don’t lie on top of the hot pack/heating pad or you may burn yourself.
If you have any questions about your specific injury and whether or not you should ice or heat, you can ask your physician, a certified
athletic trainer, or a physical therapist. If you experience any abnormal sensations, see that your skin is turning white, or you see hives under the ice or heat, put more layers between your skin and the ice/heat or take it off completely.
One of the most common questions I hear from distance runners is, What type of shoe is best for me? The answer to this is not a simple one.
There are a few factors I take into consideration before I recommend a shoe for my athletes:
The first factor is activity, what type of running will this person be doing in their shoes?
Trail running shoes should be stiffer and heavier than racing shoes. People who are just training or running for fitness should not be looking for a top of the line racing shoe. Competitive runners should actually have two sets of shoes a sturdier, comfortable pair for training and a light-weight pair for racing.
The second factor is body type. I dont mean foot type, not yet. Im talking about body composition. The first thing I get asked when I say this is, Why does my body composition matter? My answer is along the lines of, You dont just run using your feet, do you?
The real reason is this different shoes are made to break down at different distances and under different levels of stress. Picking the right shoe style for your body type can prevent injuries and make the activity more enjoyable. Larger body types need shoes with more support and cushioning in their soles while smaller, leaner types have several options. Serious racers require shoes that are light-weight, a quality that can be found in racing specific shoes.
The third factor is foot type. Peoples feet come in all different shapes and sizes and different running shoes are made to cater to those varying foot types. The best shoes for you are the ones that fit properly. Feet should not be constricted in the shoes, toes should not touch the end of the shoe and there should be no points of pressure against the foot.
Finally, dont buy running shoes because they are expensive or because they are new and cool, buy them for function and fit and you will be a happier and healthier runner. The best way to get running shoes that fit properly is to visit your local running specialty store and get fit in a pair of shoes that are perfect for you.
Millions watched in awe this summer as Michael Phelps swam into Olympic history, and eyes were glued to television sets around the world as gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson finished 1-2 in the All-Around competition.
But what price do these young athletes pay for their gold-medal performances?
As kids chase the glory of college scholarships, professional sports careers and even Olympic gold they are training like adults before their bodies are fully developed, leaving them at risk for injury.
Nowadays, it's common for children as young as 5-years-old to train intensively in one sport year-round, a phenomenon known as early specialization.
In order to be more competitive at a younger age kids are training harder, longer, and more often, but too much repetitive motion during the formative pre-teen and early teen years takes a toll on their developing bodies in the form of stress fractures, growth-plate trauma and other common overuse injuries. Incidences of these injuries have grown in the past decade as more young people participate, train and compete year-round on varsity, club and all-star teams - simultaneously.
And while Phelps' performance at the Olympics was remarkable, what no one saw were the 80,000 or more meters (nearly 50 miles ) he swam each week in preparation for the games since he was 11-years-old. And of course, the world wasn't watching Liukin and Johnson train more than 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, through sickness and injury for over half of their lives (they are 18 and 16-years-old).
Choosing a specialization too soon can deprive young athletes from fully developing their fundamental motor skills and muscle groups that are not worked by their sport of choice. In extreme cases, early specialization leads to stunted growth, weakened bones and severe injuries - including some that may be irreversible.
Whether it is internal or external pressure, an attempt to meet expectations or be the best - competitive kids may hide their pain in order to keep playing or competing. The possibility of long-term affects should serve as a warning to parents of young athletes and their coaches to pay attention
The California Athletic Trainers Association offers the following tips to safeguard young athletes from overuse injuries:
Play at the right age. Kids should be put into age-appropriate sports. The CATA recommends kids start playing organized sports no earlier than 6-years-old.
Mix it up. The CATA suggests young athletes between the ages of five and 13 play multiple sports in a year to give their muscles and joints a break from playing the same sport repetitively. However, kids should not participate in more than one sport at one time. As they mature, if they want to specialize in a particular sport, they should progress safely into an intensive training regimen.
Don't ignore pain. Encourage kids to listen to their bodies and speak up if they feel pain so that the problem can be addressed immediately before it worsens.
Rest, rest, rest. It is important to take care of injuries as soon as they happen. Many overuse injuries, if caught early, can be healed with rest and time off from the sport.
Get annual physicals. Young athletes should receive a pre-season physical every year to detect any potential or existing overuse injuries, along with any other health issues.
Presence of on-site, qualified personnel. Kids should be coached by qualified personnel, and a certified athletic trainer should be on-site during school or other organized sports. As physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, athletic trainers can offer a range of services, including injury prevention, immediate evaluation and treatment, and rehabilitation to reduce the risk of serious injuries, as well as re-injury.
Sports are still a great way for kids to stay fit and learn self-discipline, however, the key to keeping young athletes injury-free is moderation and diversity.