This has been the slogan for Foothills Sports Medicine almost since the development of the first clinic. It was meant to convey the message that as Physical Therapists at Foothills we are skilled in manual techniques. We focus on using those skills to help our patients return to the level of health and activity that they were prior to their injury or condition. When it comes to our patients physical health and pain-free mobility, a full recovery is our focus and our target. A Foothills therapist will always take a hands-on approach to your pain, and your full recovery. We don’t believe a good enough recovery is good enough, our goal is to do everything we can to help you get your full, healthy life back, and that’s our Full Recovery Focus.

Human touch, just the act of touching brings benefits beyond what the technical skills accomplish.

It turns out that what we inherently knew to be beneficial was even more that we thought. Touch has been known to decrease blood pressure, increase dopamine production, decrease anxiety and improve immune response. All things that could lead to better healing and recovery.

As Physical Therapists, our hands are used for many things. We gather the information that helps us identify the condition or diagnosis. We render a treatment to remedy that diagnosis. But we also form a bond that allows the patient to heal better. By building that bond we allow the patient to tap into their own natural mechanisms to heal.

We also know that infants who are deprived of touch fail to thrive. This is compared to their counterparts who receive regular touch especially from their parents, but also hospital staff.

These facts are now in direct competition from the reality of the world we now live in.

Humans are less likely now to have a physical connection than in years past. With social media and online connections, we are not as likely to engage with others in the same way we used to. In healthcare, we are more pressed for time due to decreasing reimbursement rates and rising costs. The time we get with patients is becoming less and less. We try to maximize what we need to do for the patient by prioritizing what we do. Unfortunately, one-on-one contact is lost easily and the touch that is needed is replaced with something deemed more important.

By taking a hands-on approach to healing we are committed to spending the time with the patients and promise to not neglect the touch aspect that helps us build that bond. As well, tap into the needed physical responses to help the patient. “Hands-on therapy that gets results” is more than a slogan and it is the reason that we do get the results we get. It is a commitment to the patient that we will take the time to deliver the care that is needed, even in a world environment that is moving away from the touch that heals.

At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we provide hands-on physical therapy that will positively impact the lives of our patients. Foothills is local to the Phoenix area and for over 20 years we have helped more than 500,000 patients get out of pain and back to doing the things they love. Whether you have suffered a sports injury, injured at work, hurt in an auto accident, or are experiencing pain and discomfort our physical therapists will work with you to ease your transition towards recovery. Contact any of our valley-wide locations to request an appointment or schedule a free Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment.

See how Foothill’s Full Recovery Focus can help you get your life back. 

We are Arizona’s most trusted provider for physical therapy and sports-related injuries for over twenty years. To schedule an appointment with a Foothills therapist that will give you the hands-on care contact a location near you! 

If you have been watching the news, getting updated trend notices on social media, or listening to any reporting over the recent past you would have certainly been exposed to information concerning the Opioid Crisis we are in the midst of. One thing you have likely not heard is that physical therapy can be a potential solution. Before we can discuss solutions, it’s important to understand the problem.

If you do not think this problem can affect you, let me give you some statistics.

  • There were 58 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 Americans. Although this is a slightly declining trend from years prior, the overall strength of these medicines is increasing. Therefore, there is a flat trend when you measure the prescriptions in morphine milligram equivalents (MME’s).
  • In 2016, there were 64,000 drug overdose deaths in America; 66% of these deaths were from either a prescription or illicit opioids, including heroin.
  • 80% of all heroin users first use prescription opioids (needs link).
  • The total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. is estimated at $78.5 billion a year.

These numbers are staggering and should make us all realize that if we are not directly affected we at least indirectly affected.

Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain

Now for the good news: opioids are effective and safe when used for acute pain over short durations.

There is a difference between acute pain and chronic pain.

Acute pain is a result of tissue destruction – like a broken leg or pain felt immediately after surgery. Conversely, chronic pain is the result of changes in nervous sensitivity to a condition after a longer period of time.

Treatments for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain usually does not respond well to opioids, but it does to movement and exercise — two things physical therapy is known to improve.

Chronic pain tends to decrease the pain threshold. This does not mean that we become “less tough,” as this is a physical phenomenon. Exercise tends to improve this threshold.

In a post on WebMD, Gina Shaw showed that people who exercised were better able to manage their pain versus a group who did not exercise.

Additionally, in the 2008 Nord-Trondelov study, there were significantly fewer incidents of musculoskeletal complaints for those that exercised regularly versus those who did not in an 11-year follow up.

In “Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy can Transform Pain Management to Improve Health,” the author notes that chronic pain is best managed when the specific pain characteristics, pain intensity, and other risk factors are taken into account.

Physical therapy is uniquely tailored to do just that.

Physical Therapy for Pain

As physical therapists, we make sure that we assess the type of pain you have as well as the intensity of the pain. We take into account what you can and cannot do because of pain and look at what you want to do if the pain was not stopping you. We then are able to come up with an exercise and movement plan to address each aspect.

Ambrose and Golightly found in a 2016 study that pain was most reduced when the exercise program was tailored individually, progressed slowly, and took into account physical limitations, psychological needs, and available resources. This is basically the definition of what we do as physical therapists.

The evidence is so strong for physical therapy and the consequences so great for overprescribing opioids that the CDC is now recommending non-opioid treatment of chronic pain and is recommending a big push for physical therapy.

Pain, specifically chronic pain, is a big problem both for the individual and as a society as a whole.

There is an alternative to medication that can cause effects worse than the pain. Movement, exercise, and physical therapy can help lessen pain. Pain, and specifically chronic pain, is not at the mercy of prescription opioids.

Physical therapy can be the answer to chronic pain without the dangers of opioids. Think movement and not medicine to gain control over how you are managing your own pain. Request an appointment with us and we’ll help you get back to the things you love.

 

Sources:

cdc.gov: August 2018

National Institutes of Health, drugabuse.gov:  March 2018

Shaw, Gina: webMD 2018

Nord-Trondelov: BMC Musculoskeletal Discord: 2008

Beyond Opioids: How Physical Therapy Can Transform Pain Management to Improve Health:  APTA, moveforwardpt.com: 2018

Ambrose, KA; Golightly, YM, Physical Exercise as Non-Phamalogical Treatment of Chronic Pain. Best Practices RES. Clinical Pharmacology. February 2017

Over the past 20 years, more states have granted patients direct access to physical therapy without a physician referral. Although the state of Arizona has already offered this type of access for several years, it was not until recently that insurance companies began paying for physical therapy without a physician referral.

The main reason for this change comes from the mounting data that proves visiting a physical therapist first might actually reduce costs and improve the overall outcome of injury rehabilitation.

Historically, the process from injury to recovery has been to see a physician, try medication, receive diagnostic imaging, rest, and hope for a resolution. If the problem was not resolved, the next step was to try physical therapy, and maybe some sort of medical intervention such as injections or surgery. However, because of the increasing cost of medical care, insurance companies and patients have been looking for methods to lower the cost of rehabilitation.

One of these methods is to try PT first for musculoskeletal problems. It was recently reported that 53.9 million people have one or more musculoskeletal disorder(s) per year. When visiting a physician first, these disorders typically result in medical costs averaging $3,578. This estimate consists of the average cost for physician treatment, imaging, medication, hospitalization, surgery, and more.

When looking at patients who went to physical therapy first, there was an average savings of over $250 in one study, and over $1,000 in another. Overall, there were substantial savings across the board with less imaging, less medication, and even less treatment.

Similarly, a study looking at patients with low back pain reported significant savings in costs. Again, these savings came from PT first’s role in reducing emergency room visits, imaging such as X-rays and MRI, and opioid use. This study also found a 9% increase in the completion of functional goals when using PT first.

Physical therapy has evolved greatly over the past 20 to 25 years, as have the patients it serves.  Due to costs and other factors, the goal now is to fix the problem as soon as possible with as little healthcare use possible. Physical therapy enables the therapist to treat the cause of the pain early on and to begin the rehabilitation of restoring the proper mechanics that may be causing the pain.

We are also trained to recognize when physical therapy is not the proper or best first course of action and can point patients in the best direction. The physician-physical therapy team is still the standard when dealing with musculoskeletal problems. This team will always be present for and critical to the care of a high percentage of patients. However, as healthcare evolves, the evidence in favor of a physical therapy first approach continues to grow.

If you have any questions regarding direct access to physical therapy in Arizona, please contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic.

 

References

.7Ojha, H.A., et al ; Direct Access Compared with Referred Physical Therapy Episodes of Care: A systematic Review.  Physical Therapy. January 2014

Frognar, B.K. et al;  Does Unrestricted Direct Access to Physical Therapy Reduce Utilization and Health Care Cost.  Healthcare Cost Institute. A Policy Brief. 2016

 

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a Chandler physical therapy provider with a highly skilled staff that utilizes the newest, most cutting-edge techniques. We are dedicated to providing patients with specialized, hands-on care in order to fulfill their rehabilitation or athletic needs. To schedule a free appointment with one of our therapists, simply go online here today. For more information about Chandler physical therapy, follow our blog!

Vince Kame Jr. has over 20 years of experience as a physical therapist, and in that time he has worked with elite, professional, and Olympic athletes. During his career, he has witnessed changing technology and learned which techniques are the most effective. That is why he utilizes Fusionetics at his South Chandler physical therapy clinic, and he is here today to tell us about this new product.

Technology has invaded all aspects of today’s society—and healthcare is not immune. In fact, some of the most exciting and important technological advances are happening in the field of medicine, helping practitioners become even more efficient. One such technology is Fusionetics. It is a company and product that combines the science behind injury prevention, rehabilitation, and sports performance with modern technology to serve athletes and the general public. At Foothills in South Chandler, we have adopted this technology to enhance what we do for our athletes and patients.

The product was developed by Dr. Mike Clark with the help of Aaron Nelson, the two professionals behind the remarkable success of the health and performance of the Phoenix Suns. The technology they developed is now being used by many other sports teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Atlanta Falcons.

Fusionetics uses a screening process that observes movement efficiency, and then scores weaknesses and deficiencies in these movements. These deficiencies are the causes of overuse injuries, which keep athletes off the field or prevent them from performing to their full potential. Once identified, a physical therapist or athletic trainer can work with the technology to develop a program that will remedy the problem, and Fusionetics gives recommendations on what the athlete or patient can do on their own at home. All this is done via a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. If the athlete does not need hands-on rehabilitation, they can communicate through a device and update their program based on their progress. They are then periodically re-tested so their therapy program can be adjusted based on new measures of movement patterns.

Here at Foothills Sports Medicine in South Chandler, we have used Fusionetics for both athletes and non-athletes alike. The same movement pattern deficits seen at the athletic level are also seen in the general public, and they keep both groups from being able to perform the way they want to, or do the things they love. For a program with maximum benefits, Fusionetics identifies problems and a physical therapist then incorporates hands-on techniques with the exercises suggested by the technology. Once the hands-on aspect is finished, we can still use the Fusionetics platform to continue with a program for further progress.

Therapists can no longer rely on the “we did it this way back in the day” approach. We need to use the best science and latest technology to be able to help our athletes and patients reach maximum performance. Fusionetics allows us to incorporate the latest in scientific research into the field of athletic performance, with evidence-based, hands-on therapy to provide the patient with the best possible care.

For more information regarding Fusionetics and how we use it, please contact us, or call us at (480)782-7831.

 

If you (or your child) are getting burnt out and injured playing and practicing for just one sport, stop and read on. Besides the obvious overuse injuries, there are many benefits for young athletes to take a break from their sport of choice and participate in other activities through the year.

As the money paid to professional athletes has grown, as the competition for college scholarships has increased, the importance of becoming very good at one sport has increased as well. In years past most kids would play 2-3 sports at different times during the year. We would end one season, maybe rest for a few weeks and then begin another. This is happening less and less over time. There is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on kids to choose one sport and dedicate the whole year in refining the skills it takes to perform this one sport well.  This philosophy may help the young athlete hone certain skills at a faster rate than others, but it also poses some significant problems.

The incidence of overuse type injuries has increased dramatically in recent years.  Dr. James Andrews, one of the countries leaders in Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, has seen a 4 times increase in these overuse injures in the past 5 years. More surgeries for chronic sports injuries are being performed on younger and younger kids. As the young athlete is asked to perform the same tasks, same skills and have the same stresses placed on the body by one single sport the repetitive trauma accumulates without the time to recover.  This constant bombardment in young, growing tissue causes breakdown and injury. The change over to a new sport every few months places different stresses on the body and allows for the tissues that were used in the previous sport to recover and heal.  Common sense would dictate that if a young athlete specializes in one sport, they would become better and reach higher levels of college and professional participation. However as Dr. Andrews points out, the increased incidence of injury tends to lead these promising athletes to miss significant playing time and ultimately leave the sport they love.

Another benefit to playing multiple sports is the development of more complete athleticism. Different sports require different skills which may compliment those in the primary sport. The footwork and endurance needed in soccer will help improve the ability to play basketball or football for example. The hand-eye coordination in baseball will help in volleyball, hockey and other sports. Each sport will have something that ultimately leads to the improvement in the whole athletic package.

If the young athlete is not interested in playing other sports, there are ways to minimize the risk of over use injuries. Even professional athletes have an off season where they stop playing their sport. This does not necessarily mean to stop being active, but it does mean to rest from the repetitive strain caused by the sport. The higher level athletes will use their off seasons to work on their strength, flexibility and endurance while allowing sport specific traumatized areas to heal. Sports Medicine / Sport Conditioning centers with knowledgeable staff are great resources that can lead you into improving the young athlete in safe and effective ways.

The bodies of young athletes are a growing and developing mechanism. They cannot handle the stresses placed by doing something over and over for a long period of time without some recovery time. Playing multiple sports, seeing a Sport Conditioning Specialist, and participating in FAST type training classes during rest periods from the primary sport will allow for development of the athlete as a whole and ultimately lead to improved overall performance.

 

Well, okay. Not as cold as the Northeast but for those of us in Arizona, it can feel cold in the balmy months we call “winter”. One of the benefits of living in Arizona is that we do have warmer winters yet, in a short drive or plane flight, we can also have access to skiing and snowboarding.

Typically, Arizonan’s are not used to the cold weather. So off we go to romp in the snow and we can end up completely unprepared to handle the physical and physiological demands cold weather sports bring.   Our kids may be use to the running sports of summer and fall, but sports that take place in the winter offer new variables for our bodies. Variables that, left unchecked, can at the very least cause an unpleasant down-hill experience and, at the most, result in injury.

Having a great winter sport experience is actually pretty simple if you apply these 3 basic practices:

Drink – up

Often overlooked in chilly weather, hydration is a key to winter wellness. During the warm season, we are diligent about getting enough water. We carry water bottles around and stress frequent drinks. This is easy when the heat is telling us that we need to drink, not so when it is cold. It is very easy to become dehydrated when the temperatures drop.  We do not think we are sweating because of the cold but there is still evaporation that occurs.  Also, we lose water with increased urination. This is an effect caused by the blood being routed to the core to preserve warmth instead of the periphery to dissipate the heat.  We also lose water as we breathe. When you see your breath in cold weather, that is the water vapor freezing as it leaves your body.  Before heading out to the cold weather cities, make sure that you are keeping up with the hydration strategies you did when the weather was hot.  Drink at least 20 ounces of water before activity and hydrate at regular intervals. You can keep a camel-back or water bottle inside your jacket (to keep it from freezing). If you find you are working really hard, take time to take in an electrolyte-type of sports drink as well.

Wrap-up

What you wear is as important for fun in winter sports as anything. There is simply no replacement for good, wicking and warming layers, appropriate socks, gloves and head gear.  When layering, think of a base layer that will wick moisture from your skin so the sweat doesn’t cause you to get chilled. Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, and wool are all good choices.  Avoid cotton because it traps moisture, so it stays wet and draws heat from you. Base layers come in various weights (lightweight, midweight and heavyweight). Select a weight based upon the outside temperature and your activity level. The lighter weight is better at wicking, the heavyweight has more insulation. Mid layers provide warmth and insulation. This layer should be a bit more lose yet still fitted to aid in the wicking.  Your outer layer should be able to block wind and wetness yet allow for moisture to escape.

Finally, wear a hat, mittens or gloves, socks and shoes or boots that match your activity and weather conditions. To cool yourself if you overheat, you can often just remove your hat or gloves. Keep in mind that wind blocking fabric is also important for hats and gloves.

Train-up

Skiing and snowboarding require different skills than flat land sports. If you and your kids are recreational two-plank or knuckle-draggers,  just a little alternative training can go a long way to shred-it down the mountain.  Balance, core and leg strength need to be strong enough to maintain the proper positions down the runs. Abdominal, back, upper thigh and buttocks muscles must be trained so that they have the endurance to complete turns, control speed and stop effectively. In addition to this, most sports involve a stable foot being planted on a flat, non slippery surface. With skiing and snow boarding this is different. The surface is inclined and definitely slippery. Sport conditioning specialists use devices like exercise balls, BOSU platforms, and slide boards to simulate the demands placed on the body during skiing and boarding.   We may only participate in these sports a few times each year, but the consequences of not being prepared can mean injury that keeps you from favorite activities year round.

One of the best things about living in Arizona is the fact that we have access to all types of out door sports. We can be playing soccer one day and hitting the slopes the next.  We just need to keep in mind that, in order to enjoy this lifestyle, we need to be diligent about how we prepare bodies.

Over the past few years, how many times in the fitness industry have you found things that you once thought to be ‘the standard’ changed, upgraded or completely dispelled? The way we warm up is different, the way we execute many exercises is different, and who really wears leg warmers and head bands anymore?

The same is true when it comes to strength training for young athletes. Parents have told their kids for years “Don’t lift heavy weights. It will stunt your growth.”  To a great extent in the athletic training world that has been the rule of thumb as well.  Lifting heavy weights as children develop can cause stress on the areas of the bone that grow, the growth plate, and affect the ability of the bone to grow normally. So many parents completely abstain from letting their children participate in any type of strength training exercises.

However, children as young as 7 can do strengthening exercises without stunting growth plates and it can be hugely beneficial for them in the long run.

This can’t be understated: Lifting heavy weights and using poor techniques can damage the growth plate. Kids should not be doing heavy weights with low repetition numbers. Instead, professionals who deal with training children should use body weight exercises, light weights and resistance band exercises. This allows for the muscle to be stressed to a point that it will get stronger without the adverse effect on the growth plate.

Strength training in youth should also include more sport-specific movement patterns that mimic what the child will be doing in their sport.  This not only minimizes any negative response of the growth plate, but also helps build muscle, bone and tendon in ways that it would adapt and be able to tolerate stresses the child might endure as they progress in their chosen activity.  In addition, learning proper motor skill patterns with exercises like lunging, squatting, push-ups, and landing techniques, will help kids develop good form when handling weight load correctly later in life.

Another myth regarding strength training and youth is that, because the hormones that are responsible for building muscle are not yet circulating in high enough levels, there would be no real strength gains. Recently, studies have shown this not to be true. There have been significant strength gains in children who have undergone appropriate strength training. There have not been big gains in muscle size because of the low levels of hormones but overall strength has increased.  It needs to be stressed here that the hormones will occur naturally in most children. No artificial means of trying to boost these levels should be done. If there is a deficiency your physician will address it.

The benefits of proper strength training for youth can include:

  • Improved strength
  • Protection against injury
  • Improved coordination and motor skills
  • Increased speed
  • Changes in body composition
  • Enhanced self esteem

So now you know the long held standard regarding weights and kids is not, necessarily, spot-on.  It’s important to account for the method of training and how it is implemented. Keeping this in mind, when you consider strength training for your child (or yourself), seek the advice and supervision of an experienced athletic trainer or certified strength and conditioning specialist.

As parents we all want our children to be physically active, to pick a sport they enjoy and that also helps them build good skill and fitness. We also want to protect them. We make sure they are careful crossing the street, climbing on the play set, wearing a helmet when riding the bike. We want to protect those precious little noggins.

When we hear of someone suffering from a concussion, we automatically think of Football. Although, this sport does have the highest incidence of concussion rates in sports, it does not have the monopoly on athletic related brain injuries.  Concussions can occur in any sport and need to be recognized and cared for properly.  Surprisingly to most, soccer (especially girls’ soccer) has one of the highest occurrences of concussions other than football and female players have twice the rate to boys’ soccer.

Some claim that heading of the ball is dangerous and this is what is causing the head injuries in soccer. When we look at how these occur however, we find the majority of the concussions are due to contact with other players, head to head causes the most.  Only 24% of concussions occur when making contact with the ball and almost none when intentionally heading the ball.  Improper technique and unexpected contact are what causes the ball contact concussions.  Some have advocated eliminating heading the ball for younger players while others advocate better coaching to make sure the players are heading properly. Wearing headgear while playing soccer is another controversial subject and the results are still too new and too few to say if they will make an impact in decreasing the concussion incidence.

What we do know is that concussion will occur on the soccer field. We need to be able to recognize when this does happen, know how to handle the situation and when it is safe to return to play. This is difficult in a sport that has few stoppages. The coaches, officials and medical personnel on site need to be aware when a collision incident involving the head occurs and watch for signs of a concussion.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has designed a program “Heads Up: Concussions in Youth Sports” to help coaches, parents and athletes recognize and deal with the symptoms of concussions.  This can be obtained at no charge via their website.

Do you know the signs and symptoms?

One of the mysteries for most people dealing with concussions is being able to recognize when a concussion, however mild, has occurred and when to seek medical attention. Concussions are “graded” on a scale of 1-3. An important thing to remember is, no matter what the grade or whether the injury happens during a game or outside on your backyard play-set, the child should be examined by a physician.   Here is a simple way to assess the severity of a possible concussion and what to look for:

Grade 1:  This is characterized by some confusion, temporary memory loss, slight nausea, NO loss of consciousness.  The symptoms resolve in 15 minutes or less.  On the field the player may be out of position or slower to react than they normally would. They may not remember assignments or plays. They may complain of a headache.

Grade 2:  This is very similar symptoms to Grade 1 but more severe and lasting longer than 15 minutes yet still NO loss of consciousness.  They may be more irritable than normal.  Play will look similar to Grade 1 but they may get very frustrated and irritated with their play or any other aspects of their environment.

Grade 3:  Loss of consciousness for any length of time is a grade 3 concussion.  It may be difficult to recognize if it is brief and before a coach or medical personnel can get there.  However, if loss of consciousness is even suspected, the child needs to receive medical attention immediately.

When is it safe to play?

The other difficult aspect in dealing with head injuries is when to return to play.  The rules of return are: The athlete needs to be symptom free for 24 hours, at each activity below, before they can move to the next level of activity.  Once the athlete is symptom free for 24 hours at rest they can perform:

  1. Light Aerobic exercises: jogging, stationary bike etc.
  2. Sport Specific Drills/Exercises
  3. Non-contact training – then on to…
  4. Full-contact training
  5. Return to Games

Concussions and head trauma can be the longest lasting injuries in sports causing problems well past the playing days. With proper recognition and intervention we can minimize the impact of these injures and allow our youth to enjoy all sports safely.

In almost all aspects in today’s society, it seems like kids are acting and performing much older than their age. From communication on the internet, to sociologic decisions to participating in sports.

The level of sophistication is advanced compared to many years ago.

Unfortunately, the development of the body has not and will never catch up to the demands of today’s world. We are seeing more and more injuries in those who participate in sports as kids and those injuries are more similar to those we see in adults. If we cannot force Mother Nature to adjust as quickly as we would like then we must make adjustments ourselves so that we can prevent some of these injuries.48 million young people participate in sports between the ages of 5 and 18. There are 2 million High School Athletes who are responsible for 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year. Injuries are going to occur, but The Center for Disease Control estimates ½ of the injuries in youth sports are preventable. Here are some ways to decrease the risk we all take when participating in sport.

1. Equipment: Each sport has its own equipment.One of the easiest and best ways to prevent some injuries is to make sure that the equipment used is in good shape and is fitted well. This is critical in sports, such as football, baseball and hockey, where there is a large amount of equipment worn. Helmets, shoulder pads, hip and thigh pads as well as others need to be sized well so that they can serve the functions that they were designed. This includes one of the more hated to wear pieces of equipment, the mouth guard. Each association has equipment fitting specification of their websites and should be reviewed prior to purchasing.

2. Build a Strong Foundation: Once the sport is picked and the equipment fit properly, it is important to learn the fundamentals and basic techniques. Many injuries are caused by the athlete attempting to perform tasks they are not ready for or doing something incorrectly. Unfortunately some youth sport coaches are well intentioned but not well trained. Seek out leagues that have their coaches go through training and certification processes that ensure they know how to coach the fundamentals of the sport. This makes the sport more fun for the athlete as well as safer for all. As the skill of the athlete improves, it is also important to learn the proper performance training techniques. The demands of the sport on the body demand proper preparation. Organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association have strict criteria and maintain certification, CSCS, for those who specialize in how to properly train athletes of all ages. 

3. Warm-up & Cool down: Do not be in a rush to either play the game or, once the game is over, get on to the next task. Proper warm up and cool down is critical for injury prevention. At one time pre game or practice routines were long static stretches. We now know that stretches held for long periods of time will cause weakness for the short term. This is why we do more dynamic type stretching and warming up prior to participation. It is important to get the muscles warm and to achieve the proper length in a dynamic way so that they are prepared to do the functions we are about to ask of them. The PEP program was developed by Southern California University specifically for female soccer and was shown to significantly decrease the incidence of ACL injuries in that population. Other similar programs have been developed and can be accessed through a strength and conditioning specialist. Once the game or practice is complete than a proper cool down is needed. This is when the longer held stretching is done so that as the muscle cools it is maintained in a lengthened position. 

4. Hydration: Another critical aspect in both injury prevention and performance is hydration levels. Especially in Arizona it is very important to maintain proper hydration levels. This needs to be maintained at all times not just prior to or during the athletic event. Monitor urine colors. The color of the athletes urine should be equivalent to lemon aide not apple juice. Make sure that the athlete is drinking water throughout the day, every day. For every 2% decrease in hydration levels, there is a 10% decrease in muscle performance. There have also been correlations made between dehydration and slower reaction times as well as poor decision making. Both of these can lead to potential injuries. It is recommended on game or practice day to drink 10 – 15 oz 2 – 3 hours prior, 8 – 10 oz 15 minutes prior and 8 -10 oz every 15 to 20 minutes of participation.

5. Diversify: One troubling aspect of youth sports in today’s society is the trend to specialize in one sport earlier and earlier. This specialization has lead to overuse injuries where we used to not see. Playing multiple sports will reduce the overuse stress placed on tissues as well as to help develop overall athletic skills instead of just those used in one sport. As the athlete develops, and the body matures, then the risk of the overuse and repetitive trauma decreases.Sports for young people can be fun, rewarding and safe with just some proper preparations. Do not shy away from having your child participate in sport to avoid the risk of injury. Take the precautions and preparations listed above so that your child can take full advantage of what sports can offer.

 To recap: 

  • Use the proper equipment and make sure that it is in good working order and fitted correctly.
  • Learn the fundamentals of the sport and get the correct training.
  • Perform a good dynamic warm up and proper cool down.
  • Maintain an adequate hydration level.
  • Do not be in a rush to specialize in one sport. Participate in a number of sports to acquire more all around athletic skills and reduce overuse and repetitive trauma.

 

 

Make exercise a family affair! Everyone benefits and great health can be fun, family time with a few small changes and a couple of great ideas.

The Importance of Staying Healthy as a Family

During the past two decades the number of children who are overweight or obese has doubled. The Economic Institute in Washington DC has estimated that as many as 8 out of 10 children under the age of 7 are overweight, and another study has shown that ½ of all Americans between 12 – 21 years old are not physically active regularly. It has been well documented that children learn behavior early in life and they pattern themselves after the adults they look up to. In order to reverse the trend over the recent times, it is up to the family as a unit to become more active and perform exercise and play activities together.

As with many noble ideas and causes, the questions become how to get started and what is the best approach.  There are a few key ingredients to remember when beginning a family exercise program.

When communicating with your kids, stay away from using the word exercise. They may tend to think of this as a chore and will be reluctant to try. Instead use fun, spirited and light terms to describe the activity.

  1. Try to make the activity outside. Kids, and adults for that matter, are spending too much time indoors with TV, videogames and computer tasks. We need to change the environment so that the kids will be able to separate the active component from the sedentary, task components of their lives.
  2. Find out what the kids like to do and involve them in the planning of the activities. Again we do not want the kids to feel like this is a chore that needs to be done, but instead we want them to look forward to this and feel like this is fun, a reward.
  3. When first beginning an exercise or activity program, consult with your family physician or pediatrician to make sure that all involved are healthy enough for the rigors of the program.

There are as many different options for your family activities as there are for kids. A few examples are:

  1. Go for walks or bike rides around the neighborhood. This will get you outdoors as well as be visible to your neighbors, thus becoming role models for others.
  2. Water activities at a local pool in the summer.
  3. Plan social outings that involve activities such as roller skating, ice skating or trips to the zoo where walking is encouraged.
  4. Play active games outdoors such as tag, capture the flag or other games that we used to play growing up. Also, organize the neighborhood to have regular game time that involves multiple kids and families.
  5. Have Olympics. Organize activities that your kids like and make them into an Olympic or Decathlon format with prizes and rewards.
  6. Have treasure hunts that make the family have to crawl, jump, climb etc to be able to find the hidden treasure.
  7. If it is raining or other poor weather teach your kids the dance moves from your day and have them show you their moves.

The most important aspect to any exercise or activity program is to make sure it is regular. Schedule time so that these activities become a daily habit. Inactive youths become inactive adults as a large percentage. The earlier we change from bad habits to good habits, the more likely we are that these will become ingrained. If you are still having difficulty with getting started, there are programs that are designed to help such as the WiL Power Challenge by Foothills Sports Medicine. This is a 3 month program designed as a weight and body measurement reduction program for youths that involves the whole family in exercise and proper nutrition.  For more information on WiL Power Challenge call 480-706-1161 extension 19.

The benefits of exercise are many and include the physical: weight loss, lowering blood pressure, preventing diabetes, as well as emotional: improved self confidence and self esteem, being more outgoing and socially active. When you factor in the increased time the family spends together and the fun you will have with one another, everyone benefits.