Youth Sports: Staying Active and Injury-Free

Friday, September 13, 2013 3:53 PM comments (0)

youth sportsPracticing multiple days during the week. Competing in tournaments on the weekend. Participating in rigorous training camps and leagues in the off-season. Playing the same or multiple sports year round. Does this resemble your child’s sports schedule?

Youth sports are becoming more competitive at younger ages, often requiring participation beyond the normal season to make the cut and see more starting time during games. As the pressure to participate increases and youth sports become more “professional,” your child’s risk for injury increases too. Sports are a great way to keep your child involved and active, but year-round practices for the same sport can lead to some health concerns as well, including stress fractures, ligament tears and musculoskeletal issues.  

Eric Chehab, MD, a NorthShore affiliated orthopaedic surgeon, offers some tips to help keep your kids active and injury-free:

  • Encourage participation in multiple sports. Not only will this prevent your child from overexerting the same muscle groups, it will also help develop different skills. A young athlete’s agility on the tennis court could be the key to helping him block the winning shot in the soccer net.  If your child does participate in multiple sports, try to ensure that he or she isn’t overlapping them in a season or throughout the week.
  • Limit your child to one committed sport per season. With more sports vying for year-round commitment, your child may be participating in multiple sports or leagues simultaneously.  If sport requires a great deal of practice time, this puts your child at increased risk for serious injury.  Here’s a useful rule of thumb to help prevent injury: “One sport per season and one league per sport.” 
  • Take one day off every week. Between all of the practices and games, it’s important for your child to have at least one day of rest each week.  A day off gives the body a chance to heal and recover.  You should also encourage your child to take one month off from sports and practices each year, especially if he or she is deeply involved in one or more sports. 
  • Ensure there is proper equipment and field conditions. Though this may appear obvious, much of the equipment used in recreational sports and travel leagues had been used previously and could be worn or defective.  This could expose your child to unnecessary risk. Field conditions are also important because a compromised field puts your child at risk for significant lower and upper extremity injuries.
  • Check in with the coach. The ability to teach safe technique is critical, particularly in contact sports like football and hockey.  Get to know your child’s coach and make sure he or she knows the rules of the game and how to play safety and prevent serious injury.

For additional information about sports injuries, including sports-specific tip sheets, visit the Stop Sports Injuries website: http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org 

What do you to keep your kids active?  How do you make sure they aren’t overdoing it?

Get Your Head in the Game: Concussion Fact vs. Fiction

Thursday, August 15, 2013 4:29 PM comments (0)

concussionPlaying a sport, whether contact or not, puts you at increased risk for injury. This includes many of the activities and sports kids and teens participate in during or after school. With any injury, especially head injuries, it’s important to know the difference between fact and fiction.   

Elizabeth Pieroth, PsyD, ABPP, the Associate Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Sports Concussion Program, helps distinguish the facts from the fictions when it comes to concussion:

  • Fiction: You need to be “knocked out” to have a concussion.
    Fact: The majority of concussion episodes do not leave someone unconscious. In fact, only about one in every 10 concussions result in loss of consciousness.  
  • Fiction: Men suffer from concussions more than women.
    Fact: Women are just as prone to concussion as men. Some of the highest rates of concussions occur in women who play soccer, basketball or do cheerleading.  
  • Fiction: If you’re feeling fine, you probably don’t have a concussion and can continue to play.
    Fact: If you suspect that you or someone on your team has suffered a concussion, it’s important to stop play immediately. Symptoms don’t always surface right away, and it’s best to get examined by a trainer or team/family physician before going back to the game.
  • Fiction: The use of helmets and mouth guards can prevent and reduce your risk of concussion.
    Fact: While wearing a helmet can protect the head from fracture, it doesn’t guarantee reduced instances of concussion. As for mouth guards, there isn’t sufficient evidence to support the claim that head injuries can be reduced. Safety equipment in any sport is important, even if it doesn’t always protect from concussions.
  • Fiction: If someone has a concussion, they must avoid any and all stimulation until they are symptom-free.
    Fact: Most newly concussed patients will feel better if they avoid loud noises, bright lights and busy environments. However, there is no scientific evidence to support prolonged avoidance of stimulation. In fact, it may be counterproductive. It is more important to examine what triggers a person’s symptoms to better manage their environment.  
  • Fiction: It takes months to recover from a concussion.
    Fact: Most people who suffer a concussion recover in 1-2 weeks, although some have symptoms that persist. There are, however, treatments to treat lingering symptoms.

Have you ever suffered a concussion? 

Part of the Team: Steven Levin, MD, Travels to Japan with the US Rugby Team

Friday, July 26, 2013 11:02 AM comments (0)

drlevinSteven Levin, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, has been a team physician with the US Rugby Team for ten years, acting as their head physician during the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007. He has travelled with the team all over Canada, England, Wales, France and now Japan. He shares what it’s like to care for these daring athletes at the top of their game during a recent tournament in Japan.

We’re in Japan for the Pacific Cup, which includes teams like Canada and Tonga as well. We arrived in Nagoya, Japan after almost 20 hours of travel from Los Angeles. We played Tonga the night before we left LA and lost in a tough game 18-9. Luckily there were no major injuries on either side, although it looked like the Tongan team had several play stoppages for apparent injuries. In reality, it seemed as though the Tongans were mainly cramping up due to the physical game the US team played. Nonetheless we did lose a close game that we felt we were capable of winning.

Rugbyteam

Since I have been with USA Rugby I have gotten a bit of a reputation as a "rugby doc" and take care of many local and regional rugby players. I specialize in shoulders and knees and have operated on many of these players with shoulder and knee injuries. It is particularly rewarding to see so many get back in the game after recovering from surgery or rehab and then continue to play at such a high level.

During a game, the most common injuries that I see in rugby players are laceration, muscle, ligament and tendon strain, tears, concussions and occasionally fractures. There are no timeouts in rugby. As a physician I have to work fast, diagnose the problem and fix it quickly or the player must be substituted. If he is substituted then he can't return under the rules of the game, so there is a great deal of pressure to get the player back as quickly as possible if medically cleared. If the player has any type of bleeding injury, I have 10 minutes to get it under control (i.e. suture it) or the player is not allowed to return. It’s fast-paced and intense. But I enjoy it. 

I also really enjoy the camaraderie I have with the players. Rugby players are the toughest, purest, and most appreciative athletes I have had the pleasure to work with and treat.

After the Finish Line: Recovering from a Race

Monday, October 08, 2012 10:01 AM comments (0)

The months of training have come to a close and you’ve crossed the finish line. Now what?

Carrie Jaworksi, MD, Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine and a physician at NorthShore, offers her insight on what to expect after the race and how to recover adequately to ensure that you are ready to race again another day:

Immediately After the Race : Once you cross that finish line there are a handful of things that you'll need to do to help your body recover. Eat something! It’s important to replenish the energy stores you depleted during the race. Initially, it’s best to start with a sports drink and food that is easy to digest. If you can’t tolerate sports drinks, then take  bananas, yogurt and pretzels to the finish line instead. Gradually work up to a high-carbohydrate post-race dinner to further assist you in replenishing your energy stores.

Taking a cold bath and icing your muscles is recommended to help prevent muscle soreness but don’t do that immediately. It is more important to keep moving in that first 30 to 60 minutes. You'll be tired but try to resist the urge to sit; instead, take a long walk back to your hotel or car. Your body will thank you for it later.

The Next Day: You ran for a long time and chances are you are you'll wake up sore the next day. To help ease your muscle pain, plan ahead and schedule a massage for the days following the race. It will certainly help to alleviate your soreness and speed your recovery. Plan on being sore for a few days. Take it easy while you are recovering.

Post-Event Emotions: You may feel down after the race. Think about it: You’ve been training for this event, both physically and mentally for months, and now it’s over. The early recovery period will likely be the most difficult transition because you won’t be running and will have more time to reflect on your experience. There are several ways you can combat this: 1) Plan to meet up with your running friends the Saturday after the race to discusses personal experiences with the race. 2) Combit to a new goal whether it's another race or even just to keep up with a regular running routine once you recover. 3) Splurge on a treat for yourself, from a new pair of running shoes to that racing watch you’ve been eyeing. Whatever you do, enjoy your downtime and get some much-needed rest.  

Preparing for the Next Race: How long should you rest before training for the next race? While your break time depends on your own level of experience with distance running, it’s recommended that you give your body at least one day off per mile before running your next distance race. This means the earliest you should race again after a marathon is almost a month. Everyone should plan on a reverse taper over the first three to four weeks post-marathon. The first week post-marathon should be mainly rest for three days, with some gentle jogging and cross training to round out the end of the week. By the weekend, most of your muscle soreness should be gone, so a longer distance may be reasonable. Remember to go slow and keep it to an hour at most. 

After the first week post-marathon, you can begin to build more mileage based on your level of experience. Be sure to keep some cross-training days on your schedule to keep your body strong and injury-free. Any persisting soreness or undue fatigue may be your body’s way of telling you it needs more time to recover. Be sure to listen to your body and adjust your training, or see your physician as needed.

How did you feel after the race? What tips would offer to others?

Motivated to Work Out? Planning Your Exercise Routine

Sunday, July 29, 2012 9:16 AM comments (0)

Workout-MotivationHas watching the London games made you eager to start a new exercise routine? While your training schedule probably won’t be as grueling, diving right into a new routine can be difficult. Beginning slow and identifying your workout goals is a great starting point.

Carrie Jaworski, MD, Sports Medicine physician at NorthShore, gives the following tips for starting a new exercise routine:

  • Choose an activity that you enjoy doing. You’ll be more likely to stick to it. This could include walking, cycling, running, swimming, jumping rope, or even playing basketball or soccer with your kids.
  • Find 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week to exercise. Keep in mind that you can break these 30-minute workouts into shorter intervals. Maybe given your schedule it’s easiest for you to work out for 10 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening. Do what’s best (and most convenient!) for you.
  • Mix it up. Aim to do aerobic exercise three to five times per week and strengthening workouts twice a week.
  • Work to perceived exertion. You should be able to carry on a conversation without feeling winded or out of breath.
  • Prevent injuries. Be sure to properly stretch before and after your workout. If you do get injured, remember P-R-I-C-E: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

What weekly workout activities do you enjoy most? How do you stick with your routine?

Gearing Up for Endurance Training – Beat the Heat

Friday, June 08, 2012 7:55 AM comments (0)

Endurance TrainingReady, set, go! You registered for the big race and now you’re all set to begin your training routine. Ramping up your endurance can be easy when the temperatures are cool during daytime and nighttime hours. But what do you do about training when the temperature and heat index continue to rise?

While staying on schedule and continuing training is vital to your conditioning and mental preparation, when it’s hot outside it’s important to make some adjustments in your routine to avoid injury, dehydration and fatigue.

Carrie Jaworski, MD, sports medicine physician, offers the following tips for those training for endurance races this summer:

  • Know your sweat rate and start out your workout fully hydrated. Dehydration is one of the biggest problems people face when training in the heat. Being dehydrated by as little as 2% of your weight can significantly hamper your performance and being 3% or more dehydrated puts you at risk for heat illness. An easy method to figuring out your fluid needs is to:
         o    Determine how much sweat you lose with your workouts. This can be
               accomplished by establishing a baseline weight (weigh yourself in
               the morning after going to the bathroom).
         o    Return from your workout and before going to the bathroom, weigh
               yourself again.
         o    Subtract out any fluid you consumed during your run.
         o    Plan to replace about one liter of fluid for every pound you lose.
  • Monitor your urine. Your urine is a quick and easy indicator of hydration status. It is best to always have your urine resemble lemonade, not apple juice. Certain foods and medications can alter your urine color so ask your physician if you are not sure. Don’t overdo your water intake as it can put you at risk for low sodium levels known as hyponatremia. If you are gaining weight post-exercise, or your rings feel tight, you are likely drinking too much.
  • Choose appropriate clothes. Many options exist for keeping cool while training. Look for clothes that are lightweight and light in color. Wicking fabrics will help to keep the skin cool.
  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply often, especially if you sweat a lot. Don't neglect the backs of your legs and your neck.
  • Know the signs of heat illness. It is normal to feel tired after a good workout, but extreme fatigue, weakness, a racing heart and/or changes in mental status/alertness can be due to heat illness. The best advice is to prevent this from happening altogether by following the above tips. You can also reschedule workouts during times when the heat index isn’t soaring and slow your pace. If despite your best efforts, things go wrong you should:
         o    Cool off immediately.
         o    Use an ice bath or apply ice bags/cold towels to your armpits, neck
               and groin.
         o    Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms are severe.


Are you currently training for a race or run? What do you do to beat the heat?

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Does the heat put a cramp in your fitness routine? Join experts at NorthShore on Saturday, June 16 from 8a.m. – 12:45p.m. for an educational morning at the Chicago Botanic Garden—complete with a healthy eating demonstration, work-out demonstration and panel discussions on skin care, heart health, and sports injury care and prevention. Space is limited for this free event. Register today for Total Care for the Athlete at Heart.

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