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Springtime is go time: Running tips for beginners

runningtips

For many people looking to start a running routine, springtime is go time. It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged when starting a new fitness regime, but with perseverance and a few guidelines, running is a rewarding way to keep your body healthy.

Step 1: Get your gear
You don’t need much to start running, but a good pair of shoes will take you a long way and help prevent common injuries. Take a look at the soles of shoes you wear often to see where they are most worn; this will tell you where your weight is focused when you walk. Different pairs of shoes are best for different foot types, so research what matches with yours. A “flat foot” requires support and stability, while a “high-arch” needs more cushion for shock and absorption. Many stores—especially independent outlets—can help you choose the best shoe for your pattern of wear.

For optimal comfort, consider the fabric of your running clothes. While a cotton T-shirt is comfortable at the beginning of a run, the fabric retains sweat and can cause chaffing and irritation. “Tech” fabric made of fibers like Lycra, nylon or bamboo allows sweat to evaporate. You’ll often find these clothing items billed as being able to “wick away” moisture, and you’ll also find they make working out more comfortable than cotton.

Step 2: Make a plan & prepare
Don’t expect to run a 5K your first time out the door; give your body time to acclimate to your new activity! Many find a run/walk method of alternating a short time of running with a longer period of walking to be a good way to start out. Be sure to warm up your muscles before you run with dynamic movements, and practice static stretching afterwards to help improve and maintain flexibility.

Another part of preparing your body for running is what you eat. Did you know that digestion usually stops or slows when you run? That means that if you eat right before you run, your food becomes your new running buddy. Eat an hour and a half before your run to ensure your muscles don’t get fatigued but your stomach isn’t full of food while you’re exercising. Hydration is also essential; drink about 20 oz. of water about two hours before your run. Continue Reading »

How to prevent baseball injuries

baseball

When the topic of athletic injuries comes up, baseball isn’t often high on the list of concerns due to its lack of physical contact between players. There are, however, risks of sprains, strains tears and soreness for baseball players of any age or level. Below are several tips on how to avoid the most common mishaps while playing America’s pastime.

Preserve your arms and shoulders
The most obvious risk of injury in baseball is the overuse of arms and shoulders. This can result in shoulder fatigue and tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), especially for pitchers and particularly when pitching curveballs and sliders, which put more stress on the elbow. Fatigue and inflammation can be avoided by keeping track of how many and what kinds of pitches are being thrown, whether it’s during practice, warm-ups or during the game.

It’s also important to be mindful of how many games are being played per season. It’s not uncommon for players today to participate in leagues, regular season games or travel teams all year round; resting for part of the year, however, can mean more years of overall play. Continue Reading »

Five ways to use massage therapy for improving health

massagetherapy

Many people see massage therapy as a luxury but in reality, massage therapy is good for your physical and emotional health. More research is being done to learn how massage therapy affects your body physiologically, but there are some things we are aware of now. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy:

  1. Lowers stress.  The long-term effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls on your body. Massage therapy may relieve stress and conditions associated with it, such as tension headaches.
  2. Increases immune function.  Medical research indicates that massage therapy can help boost immune system strength by increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer T cells,” that fight off viruses.
  3. Boosts mental health and wellness. Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be helped with massage therapy.
  4. Manages pain.  Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings highlight the role of massage in pain management.
  5. Improves physical fitness. Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from massage therapy. It can reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.

Continue Reading »

How physical therapy can help treat Post-Concussion Syndrome

pcs

Concussions are becoming increasingly common for people who play sports with physical contact. While typical recovery from a concussion can take from a few hours up to a few weeks, sometimes symptoms may last longer than normal. Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is when typical concussion-related symptoms last for weeks, months or occasionally a year after a concussion. PCS is also possible when someone has been in a car accident or fallen and hit their head.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision/blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches, pressure in the head
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Feeling in a fog/not feeling “right”
  • Fatigue, low energy, depression, anxiety
  • Change in irritability, more emotional or change in personality

Females and young people are at a higher risk for PCS, as are those who have already experienced three or more concussions. Other risk factors are preexisting conditions such as migraines or learning disabilities. Continue Reading »

Pre-concussion testing for kids

preconcussiontesting

Did you know that 50 percent of concussions may go unreported? Head injuries are on the rise for athletes at all levels of play. It is estimated that between 1.6 and 3.8 million concussions occur in the U.S. each year during competitive sports and recreational activities.* My fellow licensed athletic trainers (LATs) and I have become very concerned with these statistics, which is why we have partnered with ImPACT in an effort to provide state-of-the-art concussion care to athletes throughout the Fox Valley.

What is the Community Baseline Project?
It is a program that offers a Baseline ImPACT computerized test for any local athlete who does not already have access to a cognitive test through their club or school. These tests are to be done before a concussion occurs in order to establish a baseline or “normal” cognitive score.

The test costs $10 and takes about 25 minutes to complete. Several Affinity providers, including myself, who are trained in concussion management and ImPACT testing, can administer the test. These baseline tests are suggested every two years, starting at age 11 (must be 11 years old at the time of the test). Baseline reports help serve as a comparison to a repeat ImPACT test if a concussion is suspected. This helps assess the damage caused by a concussion.

The ImPACT test is a computer-based testing of neurocognitive responses (i.e. – memory, concentration, eye-hand speed, processing and reaction). All of these are improved with good rest and healthy habits. Getting rest and proper nutrition is essential to performing at each person’s optimal level. See “how to prepare” section below for details. Continue Reading »

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