How to play hockey safely

How to play hockey safely

Hockey may not initially inspire thoughts of the world’s safest sport. With a reputation for brawls on the ice and toothless grins, parents may be understandably cautious about signing up their kids for the community hockey league.

However, with the proper precautions (and protective gear), the game can be played safely while those on the ice reduce their chance of injury.

Hockey is a unique sport, says Mark Salandra, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of StrengthCondition.com (a Physiquality partner program). “It incorporates speed, agility and strength in ways that no other sport tests the body,” he explains. As with any sport, injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including the level of participation, player position, protective equipment, violent behavior, and personal susceptibility due to pre-existing injuries and style of play.

Hockey leagues have been studying concussions seriously over the last few years.The most dangerous injury that hockey players are susceptible to is the one most difficult to avoid, notes Mark. Given the fast pace on the ice, collisions with other players, as well as the rink walls, are inevitable, and such hits can lead to concussions. As with football, hockey leagues have been studying the injury seriously, advocating a variety of measures designed to reduce concussions, particularly among younger players.

USA Hockey, the organization that oversees amateur hockey associations in the U.S., advises all players young and old to protect the head by wearing a helmet when playing. They have posted tips and created training, for both parents and coaches, on how to keep players safe. Most importantly, they explain how to look for signs of a concussion: Looking dazed or confused, being unable to remember post-injury events, having problems with concentration or balance, or even simply irritability. Should a parent, coach or athlete notice these symptoms, particularly if the athlete is showing more than one symptom, it’s time to talk to a doctor.

Be screened before the hockey season begins by an experienced physical therapist or physician.Most hockey injuries involve the soft tissues, like bruises, muscle strains, ligament tears, and cuts, Mark notes, but serious injuries are possible, and players should avoid dangerous tactics. To prevent injuries, hockey players should:

  • Be screened before the season begins by an experienced physical therapist or physician. This should identify existing injuries and uncover deficiencies.
  • Participate in a sports-specific conditioning program to avoid physical overload.
  • Wear high-quality equipment that fits well and is not damaged, worn-out, or undersized.
  • Play by the rules. Players and coaches should always demonstrate sportsmanship and mutual respect for their opponents and the officials.

Mark suggests that hockey players focus on four areas in order to improve their abilities and reduce injuries: the core, leg strength, upper body strength, and flexibility.

Core strength is very important because hockey players are constantly twisting and turning, and getting up off the ice onto their skates. Key core strengthening exercises that hockey players can do are crunches, planks and Superman exercises. Mark advises tightening your transversus abdominis during these exercises (that’s the deepest abdominal muscle, the one you feel contracting when you cough).

By incorporating such exercises as lunges, squats, leg extensions and calf raises, hockey players will increase leg strength and reduce their risk of leg injuries.While it shouldn’t be surprising that leg strength is key to a sport that involves skating on a slippery surface, Mark points out that ice hockey is different in that athletes have to go from start to stop, and stop to start, very quickly with explosive power. By incorporating such exercises as lunges, squats, leg extensions and curls, and calf raises, players will increase leg strength and reduce their risk of leg injuries.

Between swinging a hockey stick and colliding with other players (and walls), upper body strength is essential to reducing injuries. A comprehensive strengthening program should include such upper body exercises as bench and shoulder presses, biceps and wrist curls, triceps extensions, and rotator cuff exercises like doorway stretches and lawn mower pulls.

Given the various directions that hockey players move in during a match, flexibility can help improve a player’s mobility. Mark recommends doing a warm-up, as well as stretching, before any activity, and reminds athletes to stretch only to the point of resistance, not pain. All stretching should be done slowly and carefully, particularly if you’re on the ice. And stretching after activity can help your body recuperate faster.

Speaking of recuperation, don’t forget the most important part of your activity — rest. The more rested you are, the better you’ll perform on game day. “It is only after your workout, when you are resting and replenishing your body with protein and other nutrients, when the body heals and gets stronger. This is why I live by the motto, ‘Train hard, but rest harder,’” says Mark.


Your local Physiquality physical therapist is an excellent resource for athletic training, injury prevention and advice and treatment if you do sustain an injury. Use our therapist finder to locate the professional nearest you.

Mark Salandra, CSCS Mark Salandra, CSCS, is the founder of StrengthCondition.com, one of Physiquality’s partner programs. Mark educates and trains athletes young and old in strength and conditioning, with the goals of better fitness and lower rates of injury.

Tags: , ,

Running away from injury

Running is a common way to stay fit — in theory, all you require is a good pair of running shoes. But running can also lead to a variety of injuries. Our experts talked to us about the most common running injuries and how to avoid them.

According to Jeff Rothstein, the Director of Sports Enhancement for the PT Center for Sports Medicine, a Physiquality clinic in Akron, Ohio, the most common running injuries are to the foot, knee and back. Jeff notes that having the right running shoes is essential for avoiding injury.

Lori Francoeur, a physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Center in Arizona, agrees. She explains that runners should wear a “good supportive shoe that will provide adequate support and cushioning for your arch and heel.”

For runners, back and knee injuries are often a result of weak muscles.Back and knee injuries are often a result of weak muscles, says Jeff, as many runners focus on running without strength training. He advises that runners strengthen their glutes, hamstrings and core to support the body while running. Otherwise, runners can be prone to imbalanced muscles, which can lead to a poor gait and possibly injury. (If you’re worried about your gait, many physical therapists do gait evaluations to help runners improve their form.)

A running coach and marathoner, Lori cautions runners to take a slow and steady approach to progressing distance. She advises any new runners to not start with more than 1 – 2 miles at a time, not necessarily running the entire time – just plan to be moving the entire time, whether you are walking or running at a slow pace. Keep track of each run’s distance, and don’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. There are plenty of ways to measure your distance these days, whether by using an iPhone or Apple watch, or a sports-specific monitor like those from Physiquality partner Polar.

Most runners don't stretch enough.Jeff also points out that most runners don’t stretch enough. “This will lead to progressive shortening of the major muscles involved in running,” he says, which can limit your joint’s range of motion and put you at a greater risk for injury. While stretching can be done before or after your run, Lori notes that stretching should be done when your muscles are already warm, making it better to stretch afterwards. This post-run stretch regimen from Polar lengthens your glutes, hamstrings and calves, and opens your hip flexors, all key muscles for running.

And don’t forget the importance of rest. Rest allows our muscles and joints time to recover from the pounding we endure from running, says Lori. As we’ve previously noted here, It is only after your workout, when you are resting and replenishing your body with protein and other nutrients, when the body heals and gets stronger.

Finally, any runner should listen to his body. While starting a new activity typically comes with muscle soreness and some aches and pains, notes Lori, an intense pain, or a pain persisting for multiple days that does not subside with rest, is one you should have checked out. Physical therapists are a great resource; many outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinics offer free injury evaluations. A PT will be able to listen to your complaints and complete an assessment to determine what the problem is. Then she can create a strengthening and/or stretching program for you to perform to resolve the problem.

Tags: , , ,

Will overspeed running help me?

With margins in elite competitions getting smaller and smaller — Usain Bolt won his gold medal in Rio by running the 100 meter dash 0.08 seconds faster than Justin Gatlin — many advanced athletes, particularly in track and field, are constantly looking for ways to grow stronger and improve their times.

Overspeed training is one way that runners (and other athletes) try to strengthen the muscles used in short bursts of movement, by using some type of external assistance to run faster than one normally would run, about “8% to 13% faster than the athlete’s fastest speed.Daniel Butler, a clinical exercise specialist at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), explains that there are several ways to do this. Tail wind running is the simplest method, running with a wind at your back. Similarly, slight downhill running is running down a hill with a slight grade. (A study in 2008 used NCAA sprinters to determine the best grade of hill for improving sprinting times; the authors concluded that a hill with a grade of about 5.8 degrees was optimal for improved performance.)

Runners use anti-gravity like those from AlterG to improve sprinting times.For more intense athletes, towing machines pull the runner down the track at a slightly faster pace than his normal rate. Runners have also used anti-gravity equipment like that from AlterG, a Physiquality partner, as well as wind tunnels, parachutes and speed harnesses. Chelsea Cole, a physical therapist assistant at Clinton Physical Therapy Center, cautions that athletes trying these types of methods should do pre-testing to determine maximum limb speeds and target speeds before training, and advises that any of these training methods should be created and supervised by a professional to ensure safety.

Daniel also notes that using pre-activation, or potentiation, exercises before sprinting has been shown to improve running times. “The exercise performed before the sprint would be selected for its ability to activate the target muscles without overly fatiguing them, allowing the muscles to fire more effectively and the athlete to sprint faster,” he says. John Shepherd, a coach for Team Great Britain, explains in an article how this has been done by other athletes: “To provide a potentiation example, the 30m sprint performance of athletes from various sports, including football, handball and basketball, was improved by performing 10 single repetitions at 90% of their 1 rep maximum 5 minutes before the completion of the sprints.”

Increasing leg strength through squats and deadlifts can help improve sprinting strength.Before focusing on speed and results, good form must be established, reminds Mark Salandra, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder ofStrengthCondition.com, another Physiquality partner program. Mark emphasizes the importance of flexibility in improving stride frequency and length, two key components of faster running times. He suggests strength training to increase leg strength, incorporating such exercises as squats and deadlifts into your off-track regimen, in order to increase your stride.

Mark also notes that overspeed training often causes eccentric muscle damage, which usually presents as soreness in the quadriceps (thigh) muscles and can be painful to the touch. To minimize such pain, Mark recommends that these techniques be introduced into any training program gradually, combined with other pre-conditioning and strengthening exercises. Daniel also emphasizes that overspeed techniques should be used only by advanced or elite athletes, as beginner to intermediate runners and athletes would see more results from perfecting their technique and form (as noted by Mark above) and building their explosiveness strength.

Tags: ,

Surfing safely

Surfing safely

Surf’s up! The beaches are full of bikinis and surfboards. While communities in popular surfing areas like Southern California and Hawaii may surf year-round, summer is often a time when people new to the sport hit the water.

Whether you’re a newbie like Johnny Utah, on a board for the first time, or a seasoned surfer, there are a few things to remember in order to reduce your chance of injury, in and out of the water.

According to Hunter Joslin, a lifelong surfer and the creator of the Indo Board, “surfing is a great sport that utilizes the entire body, from paddling out to the lineup and catching a wave to standing on your board and balancing while maneuvering the board through your ride back to the shore.” For many beginners, simply standing on the board in the watertakes a great deal of work and practice.

Working on your core strength and balance can improve your stability on a surfboard.One way to improve your stability while surfing is to work on your core strength and balance. Hunter recommends a thorough, out-of-water regimen for all surfers that includes planks, push-ups, pull-ups and squats. This strengthens the neck and shoulders, abdominals and core, and the entire leg.

Adding an unstable foundation to these exercises, like the Indo Board (a Physiquality partner product), challenges these muscles while exercising the body’s balance control systems. Using this tool creates an moving surface that mimics the instability you’d feel in the water, helping strengthen the key muscles necessary for surfing. This is why many surfers, like pro surfer Ben Skinner (seen in the video below), use the Indo Board to train at home.

Another resource for making sure you’re well-conditioned to ride the waves is your physical therapist. Click here to find Physiquality therapists near you.

If this is one of your first times hitting the waves, be prepared before you leave the house. Multiple surfing sites recommend checking the forecast, as you’ll want to know how strong the wind and currents will be — and you’ll want to be out of the water if a thunderstorm hits (lightning strikes are a serious threat, particularly in salt water). Regardless of the weather, you’ll want to wear sunscreen and a rash guard; if you’re in a cooler climate, consider a wetsuit. And make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back, or, even better, go with a friend.

Be aware of surfer etiquette in the water and on the beach.Once you’re on the beach, be aware of surfer etiquette. Respect your fellow surfers by being aware of them and taking your turn on the waves, and help those that are having trouble returning to the shore. If other surfers are nearby in the water, make sure to communicate where you are to them in order to avoid a collision. Never litter or leave anything behind — the beach and ocean should be as clean or cleaner when you leave compared to when you arrive. And know the local surfing laws to make sure that you’re following all of the rules. Many beaches require leashes on all boards to protect everyone in the water; check with local lifeguards to make sure you know what’s expected of you before you dive in.

 

Hunter Joslin Hunter Joslin is a lifelong surfer and the creator of the Indo Board, one of Physiquality’s partner programs. Hunter is a well-known fitness expert in the surfing community.

Tags: , ,

The benefits of cold and compression therapy

If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or injured your elbow, you probably know that it’s been standard practice for decades to apply ice after injury to decrease swelling and pain. Dr. Gabe Mirkin coined the acronym “R.I.C.E.” in 1978 (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and this concept became the standard in treatment of acute injuries and post-surgical patients.

While there has been some debate about whether cold therapy should be used for all musculoskeletal injuries, most healthcare practitioners would agree that proper use of ice or cold therapy can reduce swelling and pain. Here are a few reminders about using cold therapy:

  • Apply ice for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Allow your skin to return to room temperature before applying ice again.
  • Place a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin to prevent irritation and even frostbite.
  • And never ice prior to activity — doing so may cause further injury.

PowerPlay cold and compression therapyAnother option is combining cold therapy and compression. Studies have shown that people who use cold therapy and compression therapy together, as opposed to just one of those therapies alone, recover from their injuries significantly faster. Compression, particularly intermittent compression, works to push swelling out of the injured site. This can limit tissue damage and aid in the removal of cellular debris and waste in the body. Active compression therapy mimics the body’s natural muscle contractions, pumping swelling out of the injured area. This increases blood flow and delivery of oxygen to the site, stimulating tissue healing and optimizing lymphatic drainage.

It has become almost routine for patients undergoing some types of surgeries (such as ACL repairs or joint replacement) to receive cold compression therapy post-operatively in the hospital or surgi-center through mechanical devices designed for this purpose. Some patients also receive treatment from these machines at home or in skilled nursing facilities in the weeks immediately following surgery, as ordered by their physician. In recent years, these devices have become available for people who wish to use this therapy at home for injuries, such as sprains, fractures and tears, for chronic pain and swelling, or to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.

Ice or cold therapy can reduce swelling and pain.For minor aches and pains, icing afterwards may be enough to keep your body healthy and to avoid serious injury. However, keep an eye out for the following red flags:

  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Pain after resting for a few days, or when you wake up
  • Chronic swelling in your joints, or bruises that don’t heal
  • Knees or elbows (or other joints) that lock or are unstable

Any of these problems is a sign that you need to consult with a doctor or physical therapist about your pain or swelling. Trying to treat such issues at home with ice, compression and anti-inflammatories could end up making your problem worse instead of better.

 

Why are younger athletes burning out of sports?

Why are younger athletes burning out of sports?

There are many reasons to sign your kids up for sports teams. They’ll build strong muscles and bones by being active, make friends and learn how to get along with others, and become more confident as they improve on the field. But many kids burn out and quit playing before they graduate from high school. Why?

“Parents and coaches need to remember that the primary goals of playing sports when younger are to improve motor skills while learning how to be a part of a team,” says Mark Salandra. A certified strength and conditioning coach who works with many student athletes as the founder of StrengthCondition.com (a Physiquality partner vendor), Mark often sees parents (and coaches) that emphasize competition over fun.

Constant practice and competition can cause both mental and physical burnout.These parents will see that a child has a talent for baseball or tennis and start encouraging the child to sign up for multiple leagues for the same sport. Or the coaches will suggest that Noah or Ashley won’t be able to get an athletic scholarship if he or she doesn’t start practicing the same sport year round. Mark explains that this constant practice and competition can cause two types of burnout: physical and mental.

Jeff Rothstein, an exercise physiologist and the Director of Sports Enhancement at the PT Center for Sports Medicine in Akron, Ohio, equates physical burnout with increased risk of injury. Jeff encourages parents to think about the repetitive motion many sports require — repeated kicks of a soccer ball with one leg, the constant swinging of a bat in baseball, or the motion required to serve in tennis. If athletes have off seasons or play multiple sports throughout the year, he says, they will strengthen multiple muscle groups and let other muscles recuperate. But add up two to three leagues a year in one sport and the athlete’s muscles never get a chance to recover, leading to overuse injuries.

Mark and Jeff agree that mental burnout can be just as detrimental. Ask any eight-year-old what his favorite color or cartoon character is, and he won’t hesitate to answer. But if you ask him again a week later, his answer may be completely different. So why should he choose which sport to do at such a young age? In reality, Jeff says, by the time that boy reaches high school, the sport he loved as an eight-year-old has become a chore. Weekend fun with friends is passed over for tournaments played out of state. Holiday breaks are spent refining techniques with specialized coaches. Athletes who burn out like this may quit playing all sports, leading to a sedentary lifestyle and the health risks that come into play when one is overweight.

Many of our most revered professional athletes excelled in multiple sports.The irony in all of this is that kids (and the parents who encourage them) who specialize at such a young age usually think that this will help them to succeed in the sport, leading to scholarships or even a professional career. But Jeff points out that many of our most revered professional athletes excelled in multiple sports. Basketball star LeBron James was an all-state receiver on his high school football team. Tom Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos baseball team before playing football at the University of Michigan and for the New England Patriots. And this goes for successful collegiate teams as well: At Ohio State University, 42 of the 47 football players on the team that won the 2015 college football national championship were multi-sport athletes.

Aside from reducing the risk of overuse injuries and mental burnout, these multi-sport players gain more athleticism. The skills gained in one sport can enhance those for another. And best of all, each sport feels fresher on the field when not played every week, and the athlete can enjoy the sport for what it is — a game.

 

– See more at: http://www.physiquality.com/blog/?p=8379#sthash.S5hWqdq9.dpuf

What every golfer should know about injuries

Whether you just started hitting the links or have been playing golf for years, understanding the variety of injuries that can result from playing golf will help your game, as well as your overall wellness.

For beginners, says Chris Wickel, a physical therapist at Conshohocken Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in Pennsylvania), injuries can often happen because of poor body mechanics. While many people may think it’s simple to pick up a set of clubs and hit the links, a bad golf swing can lead to years of bad habits (and bad scores).

If you’re new to the sport, consider taking some lessons with a teaching pro — the PGA certifies teachers who can ensure that you learn the game with proper form. If you’ve tried playing and have felt pain during your swing, consider consulting with a physical therapist, whose musculoskeletal expertise can reduce pain and improve your game. As a Titleist Performance Institute Certified medical professional, Chris is an expert in evaluating a player’s golf swing and pinpointing where an error occurs in its mechanics.

Seasoned golf players can experience a variety of pain and problems.More seasoned players can experience a variety of pain and problems. Brandon Brackeen, a physical therapist at Moreau Physical Therapy in Louisiana, points to a Harvard Medical School study that underscored overuse as the key reason golfers have back, shoulder and elbow problems, unsurprising when you consider how many times a golfer swings his clubs during a round of 18.

Brandon points out that many golfers experience back pain due to a lack of mobility in the hips and lower back, and weakness in the lower back and core muscles. He cautions golfers to seek help from a physical therapist if they experience back pain, especially with bending or twisting; excessive back stiffness during or after playing golf; muscle spasms; or pain or weakness in the legs. “A physical therapist can address such pain, then assess the person’s movement patterns and golf swing to determine the probable cause of the pain,” Brandon says.  What every golfer should know about injuries

 

Tags: , ,

Playing soccer safely

With the Champions League final coming up in Berlin between Juventus and Barcelona, and soccer summer leagues starting soon, it’s a good time to think about playing soccer. And given the high rate of some injuries while playing soccer, it’s even more important to consider how to play the sport more safely.

As any athlete (or sports parent) knows, playing sports brings the risk of cuts, bruises and contact injuries (from running into an opponent or teammate). While many soccer injuries occur in the lower extremities (the hips, legs and ankles), some players may experience neck sprains or shoulder injuries after a collision with a fellow player or a fall to the ground.

Keeping your head in the game.Use your head… or should you?

One common category of soccer injuries that’s been getting more attention in recent years is brain injuries and concussions. Scientific American asked the same question in multiple articles in 2013 and 2014: Does heading a soccer ball cause brain damage? The short answer is, yes, it can; the author of the most recent article states that “heading a soccer ball can contribute to neurodegenerative problems, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”

– See more at: http://www.physiquality.com/blog/?p=7807#sthash.wl0WHpSO.dpuf

Tags: , , ,

Improving your balance

While focusing on balance (or the lack thereof) is often associated with aging and fall prevention, improving your balance and stability should be a key part of any exercise regimen.

Many exercise classes incorporate balance activities into their routine, whether you realize it or not. Athletes in particular often focus on balance and stability as it can help to improve both coordination and performance, while reducing the risk for injury.

Indo Board, a Physiquality partner product, is one way to exercise the body’s balance control systems. The board can be used to develop balance, coordination and increased leg strength while enhancing your core fitness. It also improves motor skills, making the Indo Board a great cross-training tool for a variety of sports, from extreme board sports to all mainstream sports. Keeping the board from touching the ground for extended rides is both the goal and the challenge.

“Indo Board Balance Trainers provide a progression from the linear and lateral movements of other traditional stationary balance boards, working your entire body,” points out Hunter Joslin, a lifelong surfer and the creator of the Indo Board. The movement of the board on either the roller or the IndoFLO® Balance Cushion creates a “greater challenge to the proprioreceptors of the activated muscles, thus intensifying the therapeutic effects,” he adds.

The Indo Board can be used to improve functional balance, including by physical therapists in a rehabilitation setting, or to enhance sports-specific workouts by challenging balance while strengthening other muscles, like in the above video.

Read More

How do you know if your child’s coach is a good one?

The mistreatment of athletes by coaches is nothing new (see Knight, Bobby), but it does seem to be getting more attention in the past few years. Stories of athlete abuse and harassment at such universities as Rutgers and the University of Tennessee — and even at the Olympic level — have made national headlines, while stories of coaches to younger athletes are chilling: The California teen paralyzed after tackling an opponent head first during a football game, a technique taught to him by his Pop Warner coaches, or the story of a coach berating a young player in front of his teammates, calling him a “f—ing retard.”

Studies back up these anecdotes. A 2011 paper published in the UK found that among 6,000 student athletes polled across the U.K., “75% said they suffered ‘emotional harm’ at least once, and one-third of them said their coach was the culprit.” And a 2005 study in the U.S. found that “45% of the student athletes said their coaches called them names, insulted them or verbally abused them another way during play.”

How can we make sure our children's coaches encourage with positive reinforcement?So how do we protect our children and make sure their coaches encourage with positive reinforcement, rather than belittling them?  Read More