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With the start of October comes the start of wrestling conditioning before the official season starts. The conditioning helps to get the wrestler ready for the season as well and is a time for an athlete to start cutting weight safely, if needed, to determine a healthy weight class for competition. High school wrestling programs should have a weight management program that includes urine testing with a specific gravity test that does not exceed 1.025, a body fat assessment no lower than 7 percent for males or 12 percent for females, and a monitored weekly weight loss program that does not allow for more than 1.5 percent per week of the alpha weight. Before competing, all wrestlers must go through a weight assessment to determine an alpha weight to include hydration and skin fold testing. The alpha weight will be used to help determine possible weight class as well as used for any weight loss during the season.

The alpha weight, hydration assessment, and skin fold testing are to be tested all at the same time and required to be completed no later than two weeks prior to the district certification deadline, this includes any appeals. This is all prior to the start of any competition with another school for any of the athletes.

A trained assessor will perform the testing protocols on each wrestler and will record results on the proper weight certification forms. There are three parts that are tested:

  1. Hydration Assessment: This is a pass/fail urine test based on the specific gravity levels of less than or equal to 1.025. If greater than 1.025, the test is a failure and can be re-assessed after a 24-hour wait period. Specific gravity determines how hydrated the athlete is at the time of test. This urine test can be judged using a color chart, but to get a better or more accurate reading, the use of a dipstick or specific gravity refractometer or other hydration testing methods is acceptable. If the hydration assessment is passed, the athlete will then weigh in to determine the alpha weight right then with no exercise or delays between the tests. 
  2. Alpha Weight Determination: The wrestler weighs in on a certified scale and that weight is the athlete’s alpha weight for the year. The alpha weight is the weight used to calculate a descent calendar using the 1.5 percent loss per week rule. After the weigh in is performed the athlete will move on to the skin fold testing.
  3. Skin Fold Measurements: Using the proper testing calipers, the skin fold measurements are performed on the bare skin. Each site is tested three times and each measurement recorded accurately. This is to allow an average overall percentage to be determined. Skin fold sites that are tested are the abdominal, tricep, and subscapular areas for males and tricep and subscapular areas for females. All testing is performed on the right side of the body.

Once all testing has finished and all the data collected, it’s then recorded properly in a computer system that will determine a minimum weight class at which the athlete can compete. The weight class is determined by a predicted body weight at 7 percent for males and 12 percent for females including a 2 percent variance made by the system. If the predicted weight including variance is a specific weight class, then that is the athlete’s minimum weight class. But if the athlete's weight is in between weight classes, the higher weight class is determined as the minimum weight class. If the athlete already has a body fat percentage below the allowed 7 percent or 12 percent, then their alpha weight including 2 percent variance is used to determine minimum weight class.

Although there is not much to be done for the testing and protocols, these are very important steps that must be done for the safety of the athlete. Making sure all testing protocols are done properly and accurately is key and can play a big part in the athlete’s season.

Guest Post by:

Kathleen Choate, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

If you found a loved one in cardiac arrest, what would you do? Sure, you know to call 911, but what do you do until EMS arrives? In these scenarios, every second counts. With every minute of no heart beat and no CPR, the chance of survival plummets. Action on your part greatly increases the chances of survival.

Often times, people who give CPR outside of the hospital do not have a medical background, and are considered laypeople. Laypeople are often teachers, coaches, and childcare providers who obtain CPR certification for their jobs.

In a perfect world, every able-bodied person would know CPR and be mentally prepared to use it. It’s important to know that delaying CPR by even a minute greatly reduces the chance of survival. The sooner you can recognize the need for CPR and start effective compressions, the greater chance the victim has to survive. If your loved one needs help at home, this means that YOU are their greatest chance of survival. This is where we are the least prepared and even unwilling to take the necessary action to save our loved one's life. Unfortunately, individuals are only 15.5 percent likely to give CPR to someone they know. (Casper, MD, Murphy, EMT-P, Weinstein, EMT-P, & Brinsfield, MD, MPH, 2003)

There are many reasons that could account for a layperson's unwillingness to initiate CPR — most of which are emotional or psychological in nature. Some reasons people don't initiate CPR are due to panic, fear of performing CPR incorrectly, fear of causing harm, fear of litigation, and fear of contracting a disease. (Coons & Guy, 2009)

With all this being said, I implore you to do two things. First, get certified in CPR and second, do some soul-searching about what might prevent you from performing CPR. This is especially important if you are alone and the victim is a loved one. Bring these concerns with you to class to discuss with the instructor, and mentally prepare yourself for these worst-case scenarios in advance.

The following are reputable sites where you can search for classes near you:

American Heart Association

American Red Cross

Works Cited:

Casper, MD, K., Murphy, EMT-P, G., Weinstein, EMT-P, C., & Brinsfield, MD, MPH, K. (2003). A Comparison of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Rates of Strangers Versus Known Bystanders. Prehospital Emergency Care, 299-302. doi:10.1080/10903120390936455

Coons, S. J., & Guy, M. C. (2009). Performing Bystander CPR for Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Behavioral Intentions Among the General Adult Population in Arizona. Resuscitation, 334-340.

Guest Post by:
Stephanie Davey
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

It is often said that if you want something to last, you must take care of it. For example, regularly changing the oil in your car, you do not want to continue running dirty oil through your engine or it won’t last, the same can be said for your tires, rotate them or they wear out! The body is no different. Athletes, mainly pitchers and quarterbacks, need to take care of their arms, so their arms will take care of them. So why do athletes assume it’s best to not take care of their bodies? Good question, for whatever reason, high school athletes have a bevy of reasons as to why they are not consistent in keeping up with the routine maintenance of their body. Time, lack of knowledge and resources to complete the maintenance, or a lack of accountability are a few of the reasons why athletes do not keep up with their body maintenance.

A lot of time and resources has been spent researching and alerting of the dangers of overthrowing for a baseball player.  However, it seems that many people neglect the arm of a quarterback.  All the hype is on the overuse of arms in baseball players that lead to Tommy John surgery, but there isn’t a lot of talk about overuse of the quarterback arm, which endures large amounts of stress throughout grueling summer camp practices.

In order to limit the excuses or reasons for poor shoulder health of athletes at our high school, we prepare all of our throwers with a routine known as “Thrower’s Ten Exercise Program”. Our baseball program has incorporated this routine into most of their pitchers’ routines, while our football quarterbacks began working through the program during spring practice when shoulder fatigue and tightness became a problem.

The “Thrower’s Ten Exercise Program” is designed to strengthen and stabilize many of the muscles surrounding the shoulder complex, while also serving as a stretching aide to all throwers. The Thrower’s Ten program can be adapted to fit the needs of each athlete in terms of resistance and weight being utilized. We utilize Jaeger Bands, two and a half pound and five pound dumbbells, and Therabands. While the Thrower’s Ten isn’t a new phenomenon in the arm care research, it is an effective time management piece to improving athlete arm care and it is cost effective.

The Thrower’s Ten and other shoulder strengthening plans should be used to help prevent injury and at the direction of someone familiar with arm care. If you or your athlete already have shoulder pain or an injury, it’s best to consult an orthopedic or sports specialized doctor.

What we have noticed at our school is that our throwing athletes have begun to feel better in their shoulders, enhanced their range of motion, increased their arm endurance, and improved their arm strength. Once a routine is established, the athlete needs minimal supervision to ensure the completion of the exercises.

Guest post by:
Marty Travis
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine


You would think the notion of proper sleep benefiting one’s overall health, academic performance, and athletic performance is common sense. You will be surprised to find many young student athletes do not believe in the value of sleep. I have not seen any research on athletes’ attitudes on sleep, but in my daily duties as an athletic trainer it seems like many just do not care about proper sleep. I am always hearing stories from both the athletes and their parents about athletes staying up late only to get a few hours of sleep before going to class the next day. My pre-season talks to athletes in the past few years included discussions on sleep along with proper nutrition, hydration, and concussion awareness.

Teenager napping in library with notebooks

From our past experiences we all know that the lack of quality sleep has negative effects on both athletic and academic performance. It hinders our ability to make quick and correct decisions, whether it is answering a test’s question or making the correct pass on a basketball fast break. If you stayed up all night “cramming“ for a test you will most likely do poorly. It is the same way for a big game. If the athlete stays up late playing video games, the following day the athlete will most likely play poorly in the game. Also poor sleeping habits can have emotional effects. I know from personal experience that if I do not get enough sleep over a period of days I can get very grouchy and irritable. I have seen this with many other people and athletes.

How much sleep do you need? I do not think there is an answer that fits all. There are studies that say anywhere between seven and ten hours nightly but I believe it is based on the individual. Some perform well with only five hours of sleep and some need ten hours. I believe consistency is the key. First find out what your optimal sleep time is. Then during the school year and sports season get into a habit of going to sleep and waking at the same time. This, with proper nutrition and good conditioning, will only help your athletic performance and daily living.

Lastly, what about naps? More and more college football coaches encourage their players to take naps before late afternoon and evening games. The coaches are seeing better performances from players who nap before games. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 30 minute nap before games. The Foundation does not recommend naps longer than 30 minutes because that may hinder sleep that night.

There are other negative effects of improper sleep such as hindering energy recovery, slowing injury recovery, and increasing cortisol levels. We must continue to stress proper sleep and hope the student athletes finally buy into it.

Guest Post by:
Brittany Darling, MS, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

This past week, high schools across the state stepped onto the football field looking to begin their season strong. Jumping into a new season can be a difficult transition for many high school aged athletes, especially at this time of the year. With the summer season come longer, hotter days of staying up late and eating unhealthy foods. This pre-season time period can make or break an athlete fighting for a starting position, and there are some simple tips to help you feel better prepared for the rough days ahead.

Rest

One of the biggest issues I see with the high school athletes is that all summer they have been staying up unreasonably late, and once football practice begins they fail to change and adjust their sleeping patterns. It is ideal to get eight to nine hours of sleep every night, and in order to accomplish this social outings may need to be put on hold for the time being. Both the body and brain require this rest to function properly, and if it is receiving significantly less then it can result in difficulty concentrating, poor decision-making, and even injury. A coach will know the difference between a well-rested and focused player versus a tired and inattentive one. Additionally, when given that rare day off- make sure you take it. A light stretch and relaxation is better to utilize than a heavy lift or hard run on your only off day of the week.

Hydrate

Hydration does not just take place during practice, but before and after it as well. Drinking water to hydrate all day long is more beneficial than chugging an entire water bottle in the middle of practice. It is actually dangerous to consume an excess of water at one time, and can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which is a medical emergency. It is best to carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day because it will remind you to drink it. When having a meal, chose water over sweet tea or sodas, which can actually dehydrate you further. Try and limit Gatorade intake to one to two a day during activity because it also contains excess sugar, which is not needed all day long. For coaches, I like to recommend built-in water breaks at practice every 10 to15 minutes, but a player should always have water available to them if it is needed sooner. As the heat index climbs during these late August weeks, water breaks should be even more frequent and excess equipment removed when necessary per NATA standards.

Food

Food is the fuel for your body, and what you provide your body with for fuel will have a direct effect on how your body feels. Greasy, heavy food will make your body feel just that- heavy and difficult to move. Try to avoid fast food during pre-season, and make a strong attempt to get in a solid 3 meals per day with snacks in-between. Some good snack options before or during practice include pretzels, fruits and vegetables, or simple sandwiches without condiments on it. A post-practice meal should contain proteins and replenish you after a hard practice. Skipping meals or not eating enough can result in low energy at practice, and in the heat of summer possibly even lead to syncope or fainting.

Equipment Check

It is extremely important to make sure all of your equipment fits the way it is supposed to. Helmets should not be too big or too small or they can cause serious injury. Although many like smaller shoulder pads for better mobility, these must come down to cover the entire shoulder and kneepads also must be worn. Additional equipment such as a back plate or a horse collar is personal preference, but can be very useful in preventing injury. Mouth guards are another must have that at least one player always seems to be missing. If you are unsure about whether your equipment is fitting correctly, your coach and athletic trainer should be able to help you.

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