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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.

MUSC Children’s Hospital is once again the only such institution in South Carolina to be ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 edition of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”

The latest rankings are published online by U.S. News & World Report.

The leading specialties for MUSC Children’s Hospital are: No. 11 for cardiology and heart surgery; No. 28 for nephrology; No. 37 for urology; No. 36 for cancer; No. 47 for gastroenterology and GI surgery; and No. 45 for neurology and neurosurgery.

Newcomers to the list this year, although known throughout the state for their unparalleled, specialized care, neurology and neurosurgery were recognized for quality of care, strong clinical outcomes and survival rates. In addition, the cardiology and heart surgery programs now sit one spot away from the top 10 programs in the country. Cancer, gastroenterology and GI surgery, urology, and nephrology continued strong showings for this ranking period.

“These rankings represent a steadfast commitment by our entire children’s hospital staff to delivering the highest quality pediatric care in the region. Although each of these programs should be proud of these specific achievements, they truly reflect the collective hard work of all our teams,” said Mark A. Scheurer, M.D., MUSC Children’s Health chief of clinical services. “As we look to the opening of the new hospital in 2019 and continue developing our outpatient subspecialty care services within communities, we feel confident that we are striking the appropriate balance that puts the needs of our patients and their families first.”

The 11th annual rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology, and urology. In the 2017-18 rankings, 81 of the 187 hospitals surveyed were ranked in at least one of the 10 specialties.

The current methodology combines clinical and operational data, results from a reputational survey of board-certified pediatric specialists, and supplemental information from resources such as the National Cancer Institute. RTI International collects and analyzes the data for the rankings. The methodology reflects the level and quality of hospital resources directly related to patient care, such as staffing, technology and special services; delivery of health care, such as reputation among pediatric specialists, programs that prevent infections and adherence to best practices; and clinical outcomes, such as patient survival, infection rates and complications. Survival rates, adequacy of nurse staffing and procedure volume are among the many kinds of information about each ranked hospital that can be viewed on the U.S. News website.

"Once again, our care team members at the Children’s Hospital have another source of validation for the excellent care they are delivering to our patients and their families every day,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and university vice president for health affairs. “Clearly, the biggest validation they receive comes from those they serve, but these annual rankings certainly confirm that collectively we are leading health innovation for all the lives we touch at our Children’s Hospital. We can’t wait to see how the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital will take the state’s comprehensive care of children and their families to new and unprecedented heights for our state."

Guest Post by:
Jennifer Hunnicutt, MS, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Following sports injuries, we know the basic healthcare regime: rest, ice, elevate. We know what to put on our bodies, but do we know what’s best to put in our bodies? Nutrition is a very important, yet often neglected, part of recovery from injury.

First let’s address what happens after an injury. Inflammation immediately occurs to stimulate the healing process. Your cells are producing chemicals to clean up the area and prevent further injury. Inflammation can last several days to weeks, however, excess or long-lasting inflammation is not a good thing. Small injuries can become chronic if we do not take care of our bodies. Unfortunately, many foods we eat cause inflammation within our bodies that slow the healing process.

While you are recovering from your injury, eat foods that are wholesome and natural. Find high-quality meats, fruits, and vegetables that will support your body while it repairs the injury. Avoid processed foods. Watch out for excess dairy, a food group known to cause inflammation. Limit alcohol consumption, as it has been shown to slow healing following muscle injury. Supplement your diet with lean protein to maintain muscle mass, especially when your injury requires surgery and/or immobilization.

So how do you know if you are eating the right foods? Consider keeping a food diary. Take notes of what foods make your feel better (or worse). Do you notice that a particular food increases the pain in your injury? If so, avoid it. Bring your food diary to your appointments to discuss your diet with a healthcare professional.

If your injury causes you to go from very active to less active, then you are going to be expending less energy each day. Thus, you may want to consider lowering your caloric intake to prevent weight gain. If possible, find another type of physical activity to maintain your cardiorespiratory fitness, even if it’s just walking. Lastly, ensure you are getting plenty sleep in order to give your body the energy it needs to recover.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association follows a “food first” philosophy: look for ways to supplement your diet through wholesome foods, such as high-quality proteins and vegetables, rather than pills and ergogenic aids.

Always talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet. Be careful of products that promise faster healing. Just as there is no quick fix to enhance performance, there is no quick fix to recovery from injury. Recovery takes time, so let’s provide our bodies the best possible environment through a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. MUSC’s comprehensive sports medicine team of doctors, athletic trainers, and physical therapists can provide the guidance you need following your injury. Ask how you can improve your diet and lifestyle to promote recovery following your sports injury.

References

Buell JL, Franks R, Ransone J, Powers ME, Laquale KM, Carlson-Phillips A. National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: Evaluation of dietary supplements for performance nutrition. Journal of Athletic Training. 2013;48(1):124–136.

Turocy PS, DePalma BF, Horswill CA, et al. National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: Safe weight loss and maintainance practices in sport and exercise. Journal of Athletic Training. 2011:46(3):322-336.

Guest Post by:

Michael J. Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Manager
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Bicycling Charleston:  Health Benefits, Injury Prevention Techniques, and Safety Tips

The Lowcountry is becoming a more “bike friendly” area with the increasing number of bike paths and trails along with the launch of the first official city-wide bike share program, Holy Spokes. There are some significant health benefits of regular cycling for fitness, leisure, or general transportation. Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity; it will increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping, which can improve your overall fitness. Some additional benefits of regular cycling are:

  •         Increased cardiovascular fitness
  •         Increased muscle strength and flexibility
  •         Improved joint mobility
  •         Improved posture and coordination
  •         Decreased stress levels
  •         Reduced anxiety and depression

Just like with any type of sports or physical activities, there are always some levels of risk of injury. Some of the more common cycling related injuries are: knee pain (patellofemoral syndrome, patellar or quad tendinitis, IT band friction syndrome), head injuries, neck and back pain, and wrist/forearm pain or numbness. But again, like with all activities, there are also injury prevention techniques that can be implemented to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Stretch before and after cycling — focus on hamstrings, hip flexors, piriformis, IT band, gastrc/soeum complex (calf stretching), wrist flexors, and extensors.
  • Core and expecially periscapular musculature strenthening to improve your posture and stability
  • Proper seat and handle bar positioning
  • Always wear a helmet!

In addition to the injury prevention techniques, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when getting on a bike:

  1. Protect your head. Always Wear a Helmet.
  2. See and be seen. Wear clothes that make you more visible to traffic and other cyclists.
  3. Avoid biking at night. But if you do bike at night, adapt your bike to include reflectors and lights and ride on streets that are well lit.
  4. Stay alert. Always keep a lookout for obstacles in your path.
  5. Go with the flow. Ride with the flow of traffic, and use the appropriate hand signals.
  6. Learn the rules of the road. Bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists; read and follow all state laws, traffic signs, and rules for operating a vehicle on the road.
  7. Bicycle Readiness. Adjust your bike so it fits you (raise or lower handle bars and seat), make sure wheels are securely attached (mostly if you have quick release wheels), and always check your brakes before starting to ride.

Riding a bike is a great activity for healthy living and can allow you to enjoy your surroundings while getting a workout at the same time. But, please remember to protect yourself by following these injury prevention and safety tips while enjoying the roads. 

References:

Jewett, Amy, et al.  Bicycle helmet use among persons 5 years and older in the United States.  Journal of Safety Research, volume 59, December 2016.

Mueller, Natalie, et al. Health impact assessment of active transportation: A systematic review.  Preventative Medicine, volume 76, July 2015.

Loyola University Health System, Transportation and Safety Tips

Stop Sports Injuries – Preventing Cycling Injuries

 

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