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MUSC Health Blog

Guest post by:

Brittney Lang
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

With elite and Olympic athletes in the media, we’re seeing a rise in alternative and complementary treatment methods. Even though many of these methods have been around for years, the recent exposure is giving them new popularity. Because of this, many athletes and individuals now want trendy treatments such as cupping and new methods of sports massage and acupuncture.

There are many different alternative treatments out there such as reflexology, herbal supplements, essential oils, or even chiropractic care. Many of the treatment methods are from all over the world and used throughout history. With the advances in modern medicine over the years, many alternative treatments had decreased but recently many have turned back to more holistic ways once again giving rise to alternative medicine. When considering possible alternative treatment methods there are few things that should be taken into consideration, they are:

Research – Make sure to do plenty of research when looking into a certain type of treatment. There are both good and bad alternative treatment methods. What may work for one person may not be the right treatment for another. Make sure to take into consideration the injury that you may have and any contraindications. One should also make sure to find reputable and established professionals in their alternative fields.

Money – Some of the methods can be very expensive. They may not cost that much initially, though some do, but you will probably need multiple treatments and the cost will add up over time. Now that some treatment methods are becoming more popular like massage therapy and chiropractic care some people’s insurance may help cover some of the treatments, which can help, but there is still usually some cost involved.

Safety – Lastly make sure it is safe. For example, if dealing with acupuncture you will want to make sure that the needles are completely new and sterile and that the practitioner is using proper protective equipment. Or if you are going through massage therapy or acupressure, the health care professional should make sure there are no contraindications. Not just in regards to the particular injury but to other conditions that might be involved like if one is pregnant. The professional should have the best interest of the individual at all times.

Alternative medicine and other treatment methods will continue to progress, especially with more athletes and individuals seeking more holistic forms of treatment. Though some health care professionals may not agree with these alternative treatment methods it is our duty to educate the athlete or individual as well as ourselves as healthcare professionals on other options when it comes to treating an injury. Both modern western treatments as well as alternative treatment methods can co-exist and be used together to achieve the ultimate goal of the athlete or individual when done properly.

Guest Post by:

Richard Mahieu
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

 

Do you ever feel like you do not have enough time for exercise every day? You are not alone. There have been many times in my relatively short life that the world has knocked my activity schedule off  its rails. To combat this I have begun to add small changes to my daily work and personal life to increase my daily activity aside from a workout. I would like to share some of the activities that I have altered, added or plan to add in the hopes that they will help some of our readers to increase their daily activity level and improve their quality of life. Some of these may sound silly, but I do believe that every little bit helps. As always, start with small and safe changes first and speak to your physician if you have any reservations or issues.

Get dressed standing up. Putting socks and pants on standing up every day may improve your overall balance and strengthen the smaller stabilizer muscles in your hips, legs and feet. The same goes for your shoes. Tying your shoes while standing forces you to work on the flexibility of your lower back, hamstrings and calves. To ease into this habit, begin with your back and/or your posterior against a wall so that you have something to grab onto if you lose your balance.

Adjust how you walk. Walking faster can elevate your heart rate enough to give you a small amount of cardiovascular workout without getting you sweaty in the office or in the grocery store. If you are outside in the South Carolina summer, then you are likely sweaty already so no additional harm done! You can also stay on your toes to give your calves and foot and ankle stabilizers an additional workout.

Stand as often as you can. Instead of sitting at your computer, try standing at it. There are products on the market now that allow you to raise your computer to high enough level to stand at. This allows you to hit two birds with one stone by exercising your back and leg muscles while you are at work doing the daily grind. You can also do the same thing while eating. These are also great ways to avoid a sore rear from hard and uncomfortable chairs. If you have the luxury of being able to get up and walk around at work, take advantage of it as much as possible!

Take the stairs. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator if you have that option. Walking up stairs often is another great way to get small amounts of cardiovascular activity into your daily life without taking up too much of your time. If you have to reach the 10th story, start off small by getting onto the elevator on the second or third floor. If you can already manage all of the floors you need to climb to get to your destination, then maybe you can begin to skip steps on your ascent.

A few other activities that you can sneak into everyday life are to park farther away from the store or work entrance or try to carry more bags of groceries into your house or to your car at once. Be careful not to overdo it though! Start small and good luck!

Guest Post by:
Brittany Darling
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Each year I receive similar comments from my student-athletes; “I just had my physical last year” and “It’s not like anything has changed.” I understand the frustration of being forced to go to the doctor when you are not feeling ill. It seems like an annoying requirement by the school to make you fill out all of the same paperwork every single year just to be allowed to play soccer. I am here to tell you that, believe it or not, obtaining an annual physical is extremely important to your health.

Let’s start with the basics: height and weight. The adolescent athlete should notice a steady increase in both height and weight every year. If there is a period of time where there is no steady increase present, or perhaps and extreme increase, this could be indicative of a growth problem. It could also indicate nutritional deficiencies that would be difficult to diagnose on your own, or growth plate issues in a growing child.

The next common evaluation is the vision test. This test is valuable at any age, considering vision alterations occur at different times in life for everyone. Sometimes, especially for a child, it may not be so obvious that they are beginning to struggle with their vision. It may present itself in the form of headaches or even disinterest in the classroom. Performing an evaluative vision exam annually can detect even minor changes before they worsen from being untreated.

The next, and probably most important set of tests includes blood pressure and heart rate. Your heart rate is how many times the heartbeats within one minute. Normal values range from 60 to100 beats per minute. An athlete in very good shape may exhibit a lower heart rate of about 40 beats per minute. A heart rate skewed way above or way below these values would be considered reason for concern and possibly an underlying heart condition. Your blood pressure is taken with a blood pressure cuff that gets really tight momentarily, and then relaxes. The purpose of this is to measure the pressure within the blood vessels. You want a certain amount of pressure because this is what is moving the blood throughout your body. Normal blood pressure is typically 120/80. Any value much higher or lower for either value should be monitored, and if it remains abnormal could warrant further evaluation. Most commonly it will be a high blood pressure, which is referred to as hypertension. Hypertension puts an individual at risk for many cardiovascular diseases.

Aside from these specific tests, the physician performing the physical will most likely listen to your heart and lungs for abnormalities, which could include a murmur in the heart or crackles in the lungs. This is a way to detect major illnesses before they worsen or have a negative effect on the athlete. Overall, there is a reason to every individual test you are asked to perform at your physical, with the main goal being prevention and early detection of an illness or medical condition. Although this article focuses on the adolescent athlete, it should be noted that even adults can benefit from an annual physical, however more extensive tests may be a part of your exam as you grow older. MUSC Health offers an annual free physical to the schools that it is in contract with to help facilitate the completion of these physicals. Make sure to schedule your annual physical before the next school year!

Guest Post by:
Amanda Peterson, RD LD & Molly Jones, RD LD

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme encourages us to “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”

Throughout National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides online resources o help people make small “shifts” toward healthier eating patterns.Nutrition Month logo

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we want to provide you with one of our favorite local resources. We often hear people say, “I know what I should eat, I just don’t always eat it.” We recognize there are many barriers that can make healthy eating challenging: lack of time, easy access to high-calorie foods, and the overall cost of nutrient-rich foods.

To overcome these barriers, we often recommend planning ahead for meals and snacks, shopping from a grocery list, and devoting time to meal prep. Despite the best laid plans and intentions, sometimes we need to outsource some of that work to make healthy eating MORE CONVENIENT.
Enter, Clean Eatz!

Clean Eatz offers a café with quick-serve meal options for healthy eating on-the-go, in addition to more structured meal plans. The meal plans can help you to make healthy choices during the week, and take the guesswork AND TIME out of meal planning. 

As dietitians, we LOVE the fact that all of the meals are low in calories and fat, have no added sugar or sodium, and are actually AFFORDABLE!

On Tuesday, March  21st from 5:30 to7 pm we sampled some Clean Eatz meal plans and learned how they fit into your healthy lifestyle before or after weight loss surgery.

Guest post by:
Lindsey Clarke
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

April in Charleston. This statement could mean any number of things…ridiculous pollen counts, insanely unpredictable weather, or getting yourself ready for the Cooper River Bridge Run. For the past 40 years, tens of thousands of runners, novice to seasoned, have descended upon the Holy City to run across one of the most iconic bridges in the U.S. Running a 10K is no joke. Sure, there are always a few who wing it and decide at the last minute to run, but regardless if you’ve run this race 40 times or if this year is your first time, establishing and following some simple pre-race guidelines can help make this race a fantastic experience.

Nutrition

Nutrition practices leading up to race day are very important; food fuels you at a cellular level, allowing bodily systems and organs to function at optimal levels, which is critical to your performance. Your body works like a machine, so putting quality nutrition in produces a quality race result. Over the course of your training, you should be fine-tuning the nutrition plan that work best for you. It is not wise to experiment with foods the week before and on race day. Two to three days out, focus on consuming complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. The complex carbs help establish a good glycogen store in your muscles for race day. Try to stick to whole, natural foods, as these are more bio-available to your body. Avoid high fat foods, as these will slow down your digestion and make you sluggish. The day before, switch to more simple, easily digestible carbs. Try to eat your last major meal 12-15 hours before your race. A common misconception is that it's a good idea to load up load up on carbs the night before. Consuming a sensible, easily digestible meal is ideal; too much food will sit in your gut and increase the chances of experiencing gastrointestinal distress during the race. Allow yourself time in the morning to eat a light breakfast such as a peanut butter bagel, or yogurt with granola to stave off hunger and avoid “bottoming out”.

Hydration

Another extremely important and often forgotten component of pre-race preparation is proper hydration practices. For longer races, drinking a glass of water with breakfast just isn’t going to cut it. Many runners underestimate how much fluid they actually lose during their runs and don't drink enough while they're running or after they finish. The result? Dehydration. This is detrimental to performance and dangerous for your health. Optimal hydration is achieved by planning ahead. In the days leading up to your race, you’ll know you’re properly hydrated if you void a fairly large volume of pale urine at least six times a day. On the day of, drink 8 to 16 ounces of water one to two hours before the race, and then another 4 to 8 ounces just before. If you’re a fan, you can also use a sports beverage to supplement your water intake. Consumption will vary depending upon the length of your race. While it is important to drink plenty of fluids, be careful not to over-hydrate as this can lead to serious electrolyte imbalances and muscular dysfunction. Finally, save those beers or champagne as a congratulatory treat after you cross that finish line…alcohol can increase your chances of becoming dehydrated, and no one wants to run six miles feeling like a left over party favor.

Training

For longer runs, a common practice in training is to incorporate a taper, or a decrease in mileage leading up to race day. For many runners, the decreased running during the taper can be very unnerving. You want to avoid replacing your runs with lots of cross-training. The taper is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be primed for race day. Last ditch efforts of adding extra cross-training can actually cause your fitness level (that you’ve worked really hard to achieve, btw) to dip and actually lessen your race-day potential. Enjoy the taper. If you feel the need to “do more” try incorporating yoga; the stretching aspect will be beneficial and it will allow you to focus on getting mentally prepared for the race as well. Getting quality sleep in the days leading up to your race is also very important. Pre-race anxieties can cause some restlessness, but try to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t burn the midnight oil, but also don’t go to bed too early; try to time your bedtime so you can wake two hours prior to the race.

Apparel

It is a good rule of thumb to have your running gear planned out and slightly broken in before your race. Knowing which shirt, shorts, socks, etc. work best for you ahead of time will prevent any surprise discomforts such as blisters, chafing, and other wardrobe malfunctions from popping up during the race. Keep an eye on the weather as well. If there is anything consistent about Charleston weather in the spring it is that it is wildly inconsistent! Cold and rainy one day, balmy and beautiful the next; wear layers appropriate for the weather. It’s always a good idea to have everything you need for race day laid out and ready to go. The morning of, you should be calm and confident, not anxiety stricken wondering where your other shoe is or if you've forgotten your race number or timing chip.

You made the commitment. You’ve put in the work. Don’t blow it in the days leading up by slacking in your routine. The attention to detail leading up to your race will definitely take a bit of planning, but in the end, all of your discipline and hard work will most certainly pay off!

 

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