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Guest Post by:

Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

It’s that time of year again……High School Football season!  July 31st marks the first day of high school football pre season training in South Carolina.  Hopefully, our student athletes have had a fun and safe summer, but now that the summer is over we find out how prepared they are for the upcoming season.Football players on field

All high school football programs have a different policy for summer training.  Some make it mandatory to participate in a strength and conditioning program run by the coaches.  Some trust their student athletes to train on their own.  When the football players report to the first day of practice, some will be in the best shape of their lives, some will not.  It’s likely to be very hot and very humid.  In order to protect the athletes, coaching and sports medicine staffs have to account for the varying levels of fitness and prepare for the worst.  One way to do that is by setting a practice schedule that allows all players to acclimatize to the heat.

Allowing athletes to acclimatize to the heat, prepares their bodies to physical exertion in high heat and humidity.  This helps protect them from the varying stages of  heat illness.  Acclimatizing is a gradual increase of time and exertion in the heat.  Practices start with the football players wearing helmets, shirts, and shorts only.  Gradually, they add equipment until they are in full pads.  They also increase the time spent in the heat gradually.

Currently, there are only a handful of states that have mandates requiring heat acclimatization.    Some states do have guidelines and some states high school governing bodies have rules.  In South Carolina, teams follow a 14 practice schedule.  On practice day 1, they are limited to 3 hours in helmets, shirts, and shorts.  They gradually increase to full gear on day 14.

While we all want our student athletes to be able to relax and have fun over the summer, reporting to fall practice out of shape can be dangerous.  Not only does proper fitness increase their performance, but it also decreases an athlete’s chances of suffering a heat illness episode.  So encourage all your student athletes to have fun and stay in shape over the summer!

Water Safety

Did you know drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4? Three children die every day as a result of drowning. To keep children safe:

  • Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Install a four-sided fence around home pools.

The Charleston area offers many opportunities to get out on the water and recreational boating can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Make boating safety a priority when taking children out on the water.

  • Wear a properly fitted life jacket every time you and your loved ones are on the water.

Heat and Sun Safety

While many of us love the long hot summers here, they can be hazardous to children's health. Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.

  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
  • Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Seek medical care immediate if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.

  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child's skin helps protect against UV rays.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

Enjoy our great outdoors but follow these tips to keep you and the family safe this summer!

For more information and tips visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer/

Guest Post by:

Shane K. Woolf, M.D.
Chief, Sports Medicine Service
Medical University of South Carolina

Summer has arrived and folks of all ages are spending time outdoors pursuing their favorite active pastimes.  Tennis and golf are two of the more popular activities with about 12 and 30 million participants each year, respectively, in the United States.1  As our population ages, many participants fall (reluctantly) into the category of ‘mature’ recreational athlete. For these folks, staying healthy and avoiding injury is paramount to enjoyment of their favorite sport. The positive health benefits of athletic activity are quickly lost when injury occurs. Fortunately, some simple preparation and training tips can help to reduce your risk of injury in either sport!tennis player

Stay Flexible

Keeping a regular flexibility routine either through yoga or simple ‘sitting-on-the-floor-in-the-living-room’ stretches can help keep your joints, tendons and muscles ready for action in both tennis and golf. The shoulders and upper limbs as well as the trunk/back are under significant stress during the swing of a club or racquet.  Torque exerted during rotation of the torso or shoulder in order to make contact with the ball, can be among the highest stresses the human body might experience. It is a little like wringing out, or even whipping, a damp towel, if you think about it. Limber ligaments, tendons and muscles are more forgiving, allowing the necessary rotation to achieve motion and also to tolerate these stresses without resulting in a strained muscle or sprained ligament.

Maintain CORE strength

So what exactly is the ‘core’ that I keep hearing about, you ask? Think of it as the central framework and support structure for your whole body. The core is centered about your spine, abdominal musculature and pelvis. It is important for correct posture, balance, coordination, and is the key to many athletic moves. Consider a core routine as your Central Orthopedic Rehabilitative Exercise program. This would include abdominal strengthening, lumbar spine strengthening, hip strengthening, and balance training. Yoga and Pilates can be useful to achieve this. The web is also a fine resource for DIY core stability exercises such as planks, bird-dog/airplane, side-bridges, exercise ball activities and balance exercises. A fitness instructor at your local gym or wellness center can also help get you started in the right direction.

Keep the Arms and Shoulders Strong

Repetitive power gripping and the swing of a club or racquet can cause microtrauma to the rotator cuff tendons, biceps, and the extensors or flexors of the forearm (ie tennis elbow – lateral epicondylitis, and golfers elbow – medial epicondylitis). The backhand tennis swing coupled with wrist weakness has been linked to development of elbow pain. The soft tissues in older athletes are more likely to be degenerative and also more likely to be damaged with both repetitive use as well as improper mechanics. Similarly, the medial, or inside edge, of the elbow is under stress when forearm flexors are engaged during a golf swing.

Some keys to avoiding injury are flexibility of the forearm muscles, balanced strength from shoulder to wrist, and gradual increase in play. As anyone who has had a sudden increase in the number of sets or holes played will attest, these muscles are usually not happy for a few days afterward. 

Stay Hydrated

The hot days of summer can be especially dehydrating after even a short period of activity. Realize that the heat index will effectively make a hot day much hotter physiologically due to the effect of humid air on the body’s cooling mechanism. In dry climates, evaporative fluid loses can happen with little notice, thus resulting in dehydration without much warning. Dehydration can impair the cardiac, renal, and neurologic systems. Performance is diminished at best, and serious health risks can happen with deeper levels of fluid losses. Take regular water breaks or indulge in a sports drink, but be careful with the caffeinated beverages and avoid that adult beverage until AFTER your round in the hot sun. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen the effects of dehydration.

Consider a Medical Consultation Prior to Starting a New Activity

For mature athletes, especially those with existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, obesity, among others, it is advisable to consult with your primary care provider before engaging in a new or more strenuous activity (eg joining a competitive tennis league after a year of inactivity). Medical issues are not necessarily going to keep you off the court or course, but having your health optimized can make for a safer and more enjoyable experience. Primary care sports medicine physicians are especially in tune with your athletic passions and how to address the ailments that need to be considered. Similarly, existing bone and joint problems may be manageable in ways that allow sports participation, even without surgery. A visit with an orthopaedic sports medicine specialist to discuss your injury may help you find a way to get back into the action!

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1 www.usta.com, www.usga.org

Know someone who’s interested in becoming a doctor? The Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine (COM) has an exciting opportunity for anyone considering, or in-process of, applying to medical school.

Our COM admissions department will be hosting a live Twitter chat on Wednesday, June 17 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. This don't-miss event will allow students to have their med school admissions questions answered and provide valuable advice on how med school applicants can really make themselves stand out among the competition.

Anyone who would like to follow the chat or take part in it, can do so by using the hashtag #muscapps or by visiting twitter.com/MUSC_COM on the day and time of the event. Our Twitter handle is @MUSC_COM if students would like to become followers of the COM.

We look forward to chatting with all you future doctors out there and getting lots of questions answered!

Guest post by:

Kathleen Choate, ATC, CSCS, CEAS
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

No one likes being injured.  It's painful, expensive, takes time away from the sports we love, affects our daily life, and can even lead to pain and disability later in life.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could enjoy the sports we love without this risk?  While it isn't possible to completely eliminate the risk, there are ways to prevent them.

Stretch

            Before participating in physical activity, a good warm-up should be in order.  Both static and dynamic stretches are acceptable prior to participation, but you may choose one or the other depending what your goal is. Stratching on track

            Static stretches involve holding a muscle in a lengthened position for an extended period of time.  For example, a static stretch could include sitting on the ground in a pike position with legs fully extended, reach for your toes, and hold it for 30 seconds.  If you choose to primarily use static stretching prior to physical activity, try to incorporate things like jogging, jumping jacks, or squats to increase your body temperature.

            Dynamic stretches involve bringing a muscle through a full range of motion; it comes with an active movement that should be slow and controlled.  One benefit of using dynamic stretching over static stretching is that it also increases your body temperature, which helps to increase elasticity of the muscles right before physical activity.  An example of a dynamic stretch would include slow and controlled lunges with a straight instead of bent back knee. 

            Ballistic stretches involves a bouncing motion at the end range of a stretch and should not be used as a way to warm-up since it is likely to lead to a muscle strain.  Regardless of your warm-up, remember that it should never be painful.

Equipment

            Proper equipment should be a no-brainer with any sport.  Runners need shoes, football players need helmets, pads, and mouth guards, and wrestlers need headgear.  Not only are these pieces of equipment necessary to be worn, but they should also be fitted correctly.

            Shoes are especially important for sports with a high volume of running including cross country, track and field, soccer, field hockey, and basketball.  While quality shoes are pricey, they are the only piece of equipment a runner needs.  Running is a fairly straightforward movement compared to other sports.  It involves a series of repetitive movements over the course of several miles.  If your feet hit the pavement 1,000 times in one mile, then a faulty running gait or a worn out pair of shoes can cause injuries anywhere from your feet to your back.  It can be difficult to spend our hard earned money on a pair of running shoes; however this investment can prevent you from having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars at the doctor’s office.  Since shoe needs are going to vary from person to person, consult with your Athletic Trainer for guidance prior to making this purchase.  Also, plan to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.

Technique

            Have your coaches ever sounded like a broken record?  Maybe they told you ten times in one practice to follow through, keep your head up, or to bend your knees more.  Good technique doesn't just make you a throw a ball better, score more points, or run faster; it prevents injury.  The more obvious injuries are the ones that happen when a movement is performed incorrectly one time and sudden pain is felt.  The injuries that creep up on you are ones that arise from consistently flawed technique.  Next time your coach tells you to correct a motion, do everything in your power to fix it the first time!

Rest

            Rest is the word athletes never want to hear, but it's vital to preventing injury.  Give yourself at least one day off a week to let your body recover.  This may seem like slacking to some, but it will prevent overuse injuries and burnout. 

            As athletes, it’s tempting to play through pain, especially during a game.  The pain level may feel tolerable, and you don’t want to let your teammates down.  Choosing to continue to participate with a possible injury will most likely make the injury worse and recovery time longer.

Strength and Conditioning

            Condition your body for the sport you are participating in.  A great strength and conditioning program will vary depending on your age, level of training, sport, and time of year.  A strength and conditioning specialist is your best resource to put a conditioning program together with all factors considered.

Athletic Trainers

            Athletic Trainers are often thought of as the person that runs onto the field when a player gets hurt.  That may be when we are viewed most publicly; however we have many other roles with regards to injury management, including (but not limited to) preventing the injury from happening in the first place.  Consult with your Athletic Trainer about injury prevention to identify a plan that is specific to you as an individual.

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