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How to warm up without wrecking your knee

The knee can be at risk for injury because of the relatively long lever arm of the femur and tibia. Both of these bones are about twice as long as a lug wrench, so the torsional force produced by these long lever arms is substantial. Added to that is the body force that’s six to eight times your weight and transferred to the knee during running, cutting and jumping activities. Changing from quadrupeds to bipedal gait also plays a role in our knees as we change directions because the higher degree of force is concentrated on the knees (or a single knee) with movement instead of balanced on all four legs.

The human knee is made of living tissue and requires warm-up periods prior to athletic endeavors. Techniques to steadily increase your heart rate prior to workouts are crucial for preventing knee injuries. Jumping jacks, biking, walking or rowing are great ways to increase your cardiac output and blood flow before strenuous lower half training.

Dynamic stretching is also important as a mechanism to avoid injury and should be a part of your warm up. Research has indicated that static stretching (ex. lying on the ground and stretching in a hurdler’s stretch) will usually lower athletic performance by pre-stretching muscle-tendon units and changing muscle compliance and elasticity. Rare exceptions, such as dance and rhythmic gymnastics, do better with concentrated static stretching. As the knee increases temperature, there is greater flexibility in our movements and, although there are significant individual variances in flexibility, every athlete functions optimally as blood flow increases. Continue Reading »

Don’t fall short on diagnosing a concussion

Many times the word “concussion” gets tossed around when someone has fallen or been hit in the head at a sporting event. But how many of us actually know what happens in the brain for a concussion to occur or how to gauge the seriousness of one?

A concussion is defined as a type of traumatic brain injury usually caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall or another injury that jars or shakes the brain. This blow or jolt to the head triggers a complex flood of physiologic events that lead to a disruption in the proper functioning of the brain reflected by a group of signs and symptoms.

Many times when I see patients who have concussions, they occur while playing sports with physical contact, such as basketball, football, soccer, snowboarding, hockey, boxing and wrestling. Although there may be bruises or scrapes, there are no other outward signs of a concussion. People don’t even have to loss consciousness to have one. Continue Reading »

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