Over the past 20 years more children are participating in organized and recreational athletics. With so many young athletes playing sports, it’s no wonder injuries are common. Half of all sports medicine injuries in children and teens are from overuse. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about overuse injuries and injury prevention tips.
What is an overuse injury?An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal. Shin splints are an example of an overuse injury.The following are the 4 stages of overuse injuries:
- Pain in the affected area after physical activity
- Pain during physical activity, not restricting performance
- Pain during physical activity, restricting performance
- Chronic, persistent pain even at rest
Who is at risk?Children and teens are at increased risk for overuse injuries because growing bones are less resilient to stress. Also, young athletes may not know that certain symptoms are signs of overuse (for example, worsening shoulder pain in swimmers). If you think your child has an overuse injury, talk with your child’s doctor. A treatment plan may include making changes in how often and when the athlete plays, controlling pain, and physical therapy.
How to prevent overuse injuriesAthletes should stay away from excessive training programs that could be harmful. The following are guidelines to help prevent overuse injuries by promoting a healthy balance of activities.
PrepareAthletes should have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) to make sure they are ready to safely begin the sport. The best time for a PPE is about 4 to 6 weeks before the beginning of the season. Athletes also should see their doctors for regular health well child checkups.Athletes should maintain a good fitness level during the season and offseason. Preseason training should allow time for general conditioning and sportspecific conditioning. Also important are proper warmup and cooldown exercises.
Play smartAthletes should avoid specializing in one sport before they reach puberty. Child “superstars” are often injured or burned out prior to college. Children should be encouraged to try a variety of sports.Participation in a particular sport should be limited to 5 days per week.Athletes should sign up for one team and one sport per season.
Rest upAthletes should take at least 1 day off per week from organized activity to recover physically and mentally.Athletes should take a combined 2 to 3 months off per year from a specific sport (may be divided throughout the year [that is, 1 out of every 6 months off ]).
TrainingIncreases in weekly training time, mileage, or repetitions should be no more than 10% per week. For example, if running 10 miles this week, increase to 11 miles the next week.Crosstrain. Athletes should vary their endurance workouts to include multiple different activities like swimming, biking, or elliptical trainers.Perform sportspecific drills in different ways. For example, running in a swimming pool instead of only running on the road.
How to prevent burnoutBurnout (overtraining syndrome) includes mental, physical, and hormonal changes that can affect performance. To help prevent burnout in your child, follow the guidelines in this handout. Other suggestions includeKeep your child’s practice fun and ageappropriate.Focus on your child’s overall wellness, and teach them how to listen for problems with their bodies.
RememberParents: Your goal should be to promote a wellrounded athlete who can enjoy regular physical activity for a lifetime.
Medicine balls are a fun alternative to weights for both resistance training and cardio. They generally range from 2 to 12 pounds and can be used to tone your upper body, lower body and core. They can also help improve range of motion, coordination, and flexibility. Try these moves for a killer “ball busting” workout: This killer medicine ball workout mixes cardio and resistance moves to help you build strength and blast fat—all while sculpting a tighter torso and flatter abs. A weighted ball is a great training tool because you can add it to almost any exercise to challenge your core stability and improve coordination. For best results, do this workout on two or three nonconsecutive days per week.
Workout details: Do each move as quickly as you can with good form, moving from one exercise to the next with little or no rest in between. Once you’ve finished the last move, rest and repeat the entire circuit 1 or 2 more times.
Power Cross Chop: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, holding the medicine ball at your chest. Brace your abs in tight and twist your torso to the left. Allow your right heel to pivot off the floor and bring the ball up over your left shoulder. Quickly “chop” the ball down and across your right thigh, lunging as you pivot your left heel off the floor. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps in a row and then switch sides and repeat.
Figure 8 Scoop: Hold the medicine ball at your chest and stand with your feet wide. Step your left leg out into aside lunge as you scoop the ball down and to the outside of your left thigh. Press through your right heel to straighten your right as you reach the ball up and overhead, quickly reversing the lunge and scoop to the right. (Think of tracing a figure-8 pattern with the ball as you lunge from side to side). That’s one rep. Do 15 reps total.
Split Push-Up with Knee Tuck: Get into a push up position with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Place your right hand on top of the medicine ball (if this is too tough, modify on your knees). Balancing on the ball, lower your body into a pushup. As you extend your arms, bend your left knee across your chest towards the ball. Quickly step your left foot back to the floor and repeat. Work up to 15 reps on both sides. To make this move even more challenging, bring your feet closer together in your pushup position.
Balancing Burpee: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, hold the ball at your chest. Squat down and place the ball on the floor, keeping your arms extended. Shift your weight into the ball, pressing your hands on top. Quickly jump your feet back into full plank position, still balancing on top of the ball. Brace your abs in tight to help your balance. Jump your feet back in, landing in a squat. Quickly stand up and press the ball overhead. That’s one rep. Try for 15 reps in a row. Too tough? Try walking your feet in and out of your squat and plank position instead. Too easy? Add a jump when you stand and press the ball overhead.
While running is a great workout, the risk for running-related injuries increases as people seek that finish line. Taking care of one’s shins, knees, hips and back is critical to a runner’s overall health. Wearing supportive running shoes and taking a workout onto forgiving surfaces are tried-and-true practices for runners to reduce shock on the legs and body. Read on for the basics of the five most common running injuries.1. Shin splints. One of the most common injuries among runners is shin splints, a term given to any pain experienced at the front of the lower leg. Shin splints occur at the front inside of the shin bone and are caused by long-distance, high-impact running, inadequate footwear, an increase of training too quickly or running on hard surfaces—or a combination of all of these. However, it can be tough to gauge the severity of shin splints. The pain usually fades over the course of the exercise session or run, but it will most likely return after the activity and may even be worse.How to Prevent Shin Splits
- Before and after running, stretch the calf muscle and Achilles tendon to target the muscles of the lower leg.
- Engage the muscles of the back of the legs rather than place all of the impact on the shin and front-leg muscles.
- Don’t overstride. Keep your stride longer in back and shorter in front.
- Engage in strength-training exercises for the calf muscles.
- Warm up before increasing speed during a run.2. Runner’s knee. Runner’s knee results from the overuse of the knee and is commonly developed in novice runners as well as women. “To ensure muscles are not overworked, long-distance runners should make it a rule not to increase their distances more than 10 percent per week. One sign of runner’s knee is pain on the outside of the knee, which can become aggravated by running, especially downhill. Other symptoms are tender trigger points in the gluteal area, as well as tightness and pain during flexion or extension of the knee.How to Prevent Runner’s Knee
- Avoid aggressive runs, especially downhill.
- Strengthen the quadriceps muscle, as a weak quad is a common cause of the ailment.
- Because runner’s knee can be caused by tight hamstrings and calf muscles, be sure to stretch both of these muscles before and after running.
- Use insoles or heel pads during your run to reduce impact.3. Snapping hip. Snapping hip is a condition that results in an audible snapping or popping feeling around the hip joint when the hip is flexed and extended. This sensation can either be felt externally or internally. Athletes are at special risk for developing this syndrome as a result of the repetitive and physically demanding movements they do. With runners, snapping hip is attributed to extreme thickening of the tendons in the hip region. Pain can be reduced through rest and inactivity, but symptoms can last for an extended period of time, causing it to eventually become very painful.How to Prevent Snapping Hip
- Avoid running for an extended period of time to alleviate pain and prevent recurrence.
- Maintain good flexibility and strength by lightly stretching the muscles around the thigh, hip and pelvis.
- Before engaging in running again, have a specialist assess your running technique to determine if that is causing the ailment.4. Neck pain. Stress tends to accumulate in the neck area, and neck ailments in runners are common. As the neck balances a 10-pound head and compensates for deficiencies in imbalances in the arches of the feet or the curves of the back, the neck takes on a lot of physical burden, and for runners, sometimes the ailment is coupled with poor running form or tense muscles during the run.How to Prevent Neck Pain
- Take breaks when standing or sitting for a long period of time.
- Adjust your desk, chair and computer so that your computer monitor is at eye-level, your knees rest at a point slightly lower than hips, and you have chair armrests available for additional support.
- Slowly introduce yoga postures for neck and back pain to strengthen muscles.
- Concentrate on standing with correct posture. Keep your head centered over your spine, so gravity works with your neck rather than against it.5. Lower-back pain. Runners who already have lower-back problems may find that their ailments are worsened by the impact running places on their body. In some cases, lower-back pain can lead to sciatica, herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. Lower-back pain can develop after running too far a distance before properly warming up and can be experienced in muscular strains, spasms and pains.How to Prevent Lower-Back Pain
- Prior to a run, be sure to perform a thorough warm-up.
- Engage in gentle daily stretching that alleviates tight back muscles and loosens tight hamstrings.
- Do strength-training routines to condition and tone the core muscles of the back.
- Adjust your chair so that the positioning doesn’t strain the lower back.
Bad knees may seem like a legitimate excuse to dodge the gym, and when you partake in high-impact activities, we can see why exercising might lose its allure! One of the best treatments for knee pain, however, is actually fitness! Exercise can be a potent medicine for bad knees, as long as you use the correct form and technique. Building up muscle around your joints can protect you from further injury by alleviating extra stress on your knees! So instead of skipping out on a workout altogether, try avoiding these high-impact exercises and work on maintaining good posture!
Lunges: Not all lunge variations are bad for the knees, but we tend to overextend our legs over our toes during lunges. That puts a lot of pressure on the kneecap, which can cause some serious damage over time!
Burpees: Don’t get too excited! Burpees themselves have the potential to be the perfect exercise for a tight, toned body. However, good form is absolutely essential in order to avoid injury. The more we do, the more lazy we get, and that is when we start running into knee problems! If you find yourself getting tired, try jump-free burpees instead!
Deep squats: Just like with lunges, we often allow our knees to go past our toes when we squat. This can cause extreme wear and tear on those joints, so if you are going to do do squats, make sure your posture is pristine!
Running: Running is a very high-impact form of exercise, so if your knees aren’t as strong as they used to be you may be better off giving up on your dreams of running a marathon. Try out a lower-impact workout like swimming or using the elliptical.
Hurdle stretches: While we always encourage stretching before and after working out, some stretches (including this one!) can really take their toll on bad knees! The hurdle stretch in particular, which requires you to sit with one leg tucked back by your bottom, can put a lot of unnecessary stress on your joints.
Seated Knee Extensions: This machine can cause you to fully extend your knees, and if you are accustomed to churning out several reps at a high weight, those toned quads may be more trouble than they are worth! You will put a lot of stress on the cartilage and the joint of the knee. Looking to tone those legs?
Jumping: Like running, jumping tends to be a high-impact exercise that can put a lot of pressure on our joints. Plyometrics can be incredibly effective if you are looking to whip yourself into shape, but often leads to the application of more than 2 to 3 times your body weight on your joints. Try a spinning class instead for a low-impact workout that is sure to crush those calories!
Kickboxing: Kickboxing can be a blast, but any exercise that requires sudden, directional changes can have a negative impact on weak knees. It’s easy to overextend your legs during high kicks, so make sure you are concentrating on your posture as well as your power!
Remember, you’ve only got the one body so be sure to treat it well! Simple modifications or variations on these exercises can go a long way in reducing any unnecessary stress on the joints. Fitness is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle, so don’t be discouraged by weakening knees! There are many ways to freshen up your fitness goals to suit your lifestyle.
Which Athletes Benefit From Acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be beneficial for those practicing bodybuilding and for any other athletes who are training in competitive sports, aerobics, martial arts, outdoor training, or any strenuous activity as it enhances performance and gives the athlete a competitive edge. Competition is not just about physical strength or endurance; it is also about psychological confidence, which can significantly affect performance skills. Acupuncture can enhance the ability to stay focused, lower anxiety, and jump psychological obstacles which stand in their way.
Benefits of Acupuncture There are many benefits provided by acupuncture that can help an athlete that participates in any sport:
1. Acupuncture Helps The Body To Heal Itself From Injury While Reducing Pain At The Same Time: For anyone who is physically active, an injury may occur, either acutely or chronically, over time. Statistics show that adults suffer more than one million sports-related traumas annually. Injuries may include fractures, muscle strains, strained ligaments, tendons or joints, shin splints along a variety of other strains. Typically, the back, shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet are most affected during a sports related injury. Arthritis is a chronic condition which can be a result of a sports-related injury, manifesting over a long-period of time.
While massage therapy relaxes muscles and tendons, acupuncture supports and reinforces the whole body to heal itself. Acupuncture reduces the pain and speeds healing in addition to strengthening the body by reducing swelling or spasms, improving blood circulation, and stimulating natural endorphins and anti-inflammatory hormones in the body.
2. Acupuncture Enhances Performance By Cleansing The Body Organs: Acupuncture can also cleanse the body organs, which may hold unnecessary toxins, tension and stress. Qi, live-giving energy that flows to every cell, tissue, muscle, and organ in your body through 14 main meridian pathways, can become stagnated. Acupuncture can attract or repel this energy, re-establishing a balanced flow of energy throughout the whole body.
It is clear that acupuncture can improve performance, boost confidence, cleanse the body of toxins, and provide support during times of injury. So, as you head out to the gym or prepare for that marathon, drink lots of water, stretch, and consider acupuncture as part of your health regimen.
Good posture will do more to keep you looking youthful as the years go by than a face-lift or Botox. And the benefits of maintaining your bone health are much more than skin-deep.
Although a stooped posture may seem to go hand in hand with old age, you can help prevent the characteristic rounding of the spine that is often caused by osteoporosis and the destruction of the vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.
Here are 8 tips to keep you standing tall at any age.
Now that many of us spend our days hunched in front of a computer. It’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion.
To stay limber, try to get up for a couple minutes every half hour and stretch, walk, or stand.
Try this exercise: Every morning and night, lie down on the floor and make slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes.
For an extra challenge, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath your spine. Many gyms have half foam rollers, a tube cut in half lengthwise, that you can use for even more of a stretch.
But do these stretches slowly and stop if you feel anything worse than mild discomfort or pain. You want to work up to that, you want to make sure that you first get the flexibility.
When you do have to work at a desk, sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into.
This can take some getting used to; exercise disciplines that focus on body awareness, such as Pilates and yoga, can help you to stay sitting straight. Make sure your workstation is set up to promote proper posture.
Strengthen your Core
Pilates and yoga are great ways to build up the strength of your core, the muscles of your abdomen and pelvic area.
These muscles form the foundation of good posture, and a strong core can have many other benefits, from improving your athletic performance to preventing urinary incontinence.
A stronger core can even make sex more fun.
In addition to helping to increase body awareness and core strength, yoga is an excellent way to build and maintain flexibility and strengthen muscles throughout your body.
Start practicing yoga gradually and listen to how your body responds, he points out. Make sure your yoga teacher is sensitive to your needs and abilities, and available for feedback. Hatha or restorative yoga are good places to start if you’re a beginner.
Support your spine
After menopause, women may have more weakening in the muscles around the spine than aging men do.
Exercises targeting the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles, and side muscles are crucial. Trainers at gyms can help; there are even special machines that target these muscles.
Endurance in the spine and trunk muscle groups is important too. That’s what allows us to stand up for long periods of time without our back hurting us.
The vertebral compression fractures that subtract from our height and can lead to the “dowager’s hump” in the upper back that’s a hallmark of old age are due to the bone thinning disease osteoporosis.
Women and men can prevent these changes with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing, and weight lifting.
People who walk regularly through their whole lives tend to have better bone density than sedentary people.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and may help us maintain our muscles too.
Try to get it from a healthy diet. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization, found that most of us get enough vitamin D from food and sunlight without taking supplements.
The recommended dietary intake for vitamin D is 600 IU a day for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for women older than 70.
The lumbar region of your spine supports the majority of your body. Approximately 80 percent of people will suffer from a back injury sometime in their life, with the majority hurting their lower back. Muscle atrophy from inactivity is common to people who sit a lot or work in an office environment. Start a lower back exercise routine to improve lumbar strength and prevent back injuries. Learn how to strengthen your lower back.
Reduce the number of hours you sit at home and at work. Sitting for long periods of time can atrophy lower back muscles over time.
Buy a pedometer. Aim to walk at least 10,000 steps in the course of your daily routine.
Determine if you already experience acute lower back pain. If so, book an appointment with a physical therapist so that they can prescribe exercises that will strengthen your back while reducing lower back pain.
Swim for 20 to 30 minutes 3 days per week. Swimming laps using the crawl stroke and backstroke strengthen your entire back, while improving heart function and lung capacity.
Walk or jog in water. Aqua walking and jogging provide some resistance that helps to strengthen your legs, lower back and mid-back. Start with 10 minutes and move up to 30 minutes 3 to 4 days per week.Start a walking routine. Try some variations on a regular walk to increase strength in your lower back.
Sure, it can help you relax. But massage therapy can do more than that. Here are six healthy reasons to book an appointment:
It Counteracts All That Sitting You DoMost individuals are dealing with some kind of postural stress. More often than not [that stress] tends to manifest in the shoulders and neck.
Desk workers, beware. More advanced forms of postural stress show up as pain or weakness in the low back and gluteals caused by prolonged periods of sitting.
Luckily, massage can counteract the imbalance caused from sitting, which means you can keep your desk job—as long as you schedule a regular massage.It Eases Muscle PainGot sore muscles? Massage therapy can help. Massage increases and improves circulation, in much the same way rubbing your elbow when you knock it on a table helps to relieve the pain.A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that massage therapy is as effective as other methods of treatment for chronic pain.It Soothes Anxiety And DepressionHuman touch, in a context that is safe, friendly and professional, can be incredibly therapeutic and relaxing.
Women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.And, a study published in the Journal of the American of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that patients who were depressed and anxious were much more relaxed and happy, and had reduced stress levels after massage.
It Improves Sleep
Not only can massage encourage a restful sleep – it also helps those who can’t otherwise comfortable rest.
Massage promotes relaxation and sleep in those undergoing chemo or radiation therapy.
Also, if you’re a new parent, you’ll be happy to know it can help infants sleep more, cry less and be less stressed, according to research from the University of Warwick.
It Boosts Immunity
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage boosts patients’ white blood cell count (which plays a large role in defending the body from disease).
It Relieves Headaches
Next time a headache hits, try booking a last-minute massage. Massage can help decrease frequency and severity of tension headaches.
Research from the Granada University in Spain found that a single session of massage therapy has a immediate effect on perceived pain in the patients with chronic tension headaches.
Running may be challenging, but it is an activity humans were designed to do, and it’s something nearly everyone can enjoy if we allow time and patience for our bodies to adapt to the demands of the sport. But that doesn’t mean that proper running form will come naturally for you.
If you were to watch 10 different people run, you would notice that each one has a distinctive style. There is not one “correct” way to run. You should run the way that is most comfortable and efficient for you. However, you can still fine-tune your running technique, whether you’re an experienced runner or a walker who is ready to jump into running. Every runner should understand the basics like proper breathing, posture and foot strike. With proper form, you can help improve your performance and decrease your risk of running ailments and injuries.
Proper Running Posture
Just as you should maintain good posture when standing or sitting, maintaining a relaxed, upright posture while running is essential. Good posture will help release tension and reduce strain in the neck and shoulders, which can prevent muscle fatigue. The idea is to run in a relaxed manner with as little tension as possible. Follow these four proper posture principles to do just that.
- Hold your head high, centered between your shoulders, and your back straight. Imagine your body is hanging from a string that is attached to the top of your head. Do not lean your head too far forward; this can lead to fatigue and tightness in the neck, as well as the shoulders, back and even your hamstrings. While a backward lean is not as common, doing so puts greater tension on your back and legs, so avoid that, too.
- Focus your gaze approximately 30-40 yards in front of you. Looking down when running can lead to greater strain on the neck muscles and spine, which can lead to fatigue especially in the latter part of your run.
- Relax your jaw and neck. Holding too much tension in your face and neck can lead to tension in other parts of your body, making for an inefficient (and tiring) run.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and parallel to the ground. Do not pull your shoulder blades together as this increases shoulder tension. Your shoulders should hang loosely with a slight forward roll for optimal relaxation. If your shoulders rise toward your ears or tense up during your run, drop your arms and loosely shake them out. Do this several times during your run.Breathing
Over time, each runner will discover a breathing technique that works best for him or her. As to whether you breathe through your nose, mouth, or a combination of the two, is a personal preference. Most runners find that mouth breathing provides the body with the greatest amount of oxygen.
Whatever technique you choose to use, make sure your breathing is relaxed and deep. It may take conscious effort in the beginning, but deep abdominal or “belly” breathing is ideal for running. Most of the time, we breath quickly and shallowly into our chests. This may work fine for daily living, when the body isn’t demanding a greater need for oxygen, but it’s an inefficient—and even stressful—way to breathe when exercising.
To practice belly breathing, lie flat on your back with a book on your abdomen. Slowly inhale as you watch the book rise, then lower the book by slowly exhaling. This takes focus, but overtime you will find it easier to do this type of breathing during your runs.
Side stitches (sharp, cramp-like pain in the trunk of the body) are quite common among new runners, and they can really put a damper on your workout. One cause of side stitches can be shallow, upper chest breathing. This is where belly breathing helps tremendously. By inhaling and then forcefully exhaling through pursed lips, you can very often help prevent the dreaded side stitch. Maintaining good posture, with your body in an upright position, also allows for better lung expansion, therefore permitting for greater delivery of oxygen to the muscles.