Although physical activity can be hugely beneficial for kids and teens, the rise in sports injuries among young athletes is a significant concern. There are a number of reasons as to why hospital visits are trending upward, and one major factor is improper training technique.
Because young players have changing muscle mass and growing bones, they require not just sport-specific instruction, but also general training in an important skill like deceleration.
A great deal of practice time goes into teaching young athletes how to get faster and turn more quickly. These skills lend themselves to numerous sports, including baseball, football, basketball, tennis, and volleyball. Even gymnastics involves sprinting in many of its floor exercises.
But deceleration, which involves learning how to slow down and change direction safely before re-accelerating, is equally important. In many cases, it's actually more crucial for injury prevention than learning to increase speed.
Deceleration training is more than simply slowing down as quickly as possible. It involves a professional who looks at the body mechanics of a particular athlete, and factors in the type of sport he or she plays. For example, a teenage girl who plays basketball will have different deceleration techniques than a middle-school boy in football.
But there are some commonalities when it comes to benefits. Deceleration training prevents numerous injuries, particularly ACL tears that might result from improper turns at high speed.
The training can also improve sports performance. Although some people might think that teaching kids to slow down would hinder their ability to gain speed and endurance, the opposite is true. Because deceleration teaches body control at a higher level, young athletes are able to increase skill in a sport. For example, tennis players who only develop acceleration will excel at one movement for a swing, but will have difficulty changing direction, which will weaken subsequent shots.
If you have a young athlete — or more than one — who spends a great deal of time on practice drills, consider introducing the concept of deceleration into their training. Most likely, their knees will thank you in the long run.
Dear PT Pete,
Every time I go on a run I get an intense side ache that brings my run to a halt. What are these side aches and how do I keep them from happening?
- Joe in Minnetonka
Dear Joe, we have all been there, you are out for a run and out of nowhere an intense stabbing pain in your side comes on. So what are these side aches and how can you prevent them?
A side ache or side stitch is a muscle spasm in the diaphragm, which is the muscle that plays an essential role in breathing. Like any muscle, your diaphragm can cramp up and fatigue. If your diaphragm is undertrained and put under too much stress it tightens up to protect itself. This is why side aches most often affect beginning runners who have not yet trained their diaphragm for long runs. However Joe, there are several ways to help reduce the pain and eliminate those pesky side aches.
My tips to prevent side aches:
Breathing: Irregular and shallow breathing does not allow enough oxygen to the hard working muscles in your body, including the diaphragm. Controlled and proper breathing helps relax the diaphragm and stop side aches. Breathing in for two steps and out on the third step or breathing in-between strides can help reduce the chance of side aches.
Manual Massage: Pressing on the painful area with several deep breathes can help relieve the pressure and relax the diaphragm.
Water and Nutrition: Increasing water intake throughout the day and proper nutrition are both great ways to prevent side aches. However, drinking large amounts of water right before exercising can increase the chance of a side ache, intake small sips of water before and after a workout to stay hydrated and avoid side aches.
Stretching: Stretching when a side ache occurs can help relieve the tension in the diaphragm. Put your arms above your head and lean side to side extending a little further with each breath.
Keep Training: Like any other muscle you want to get stronger, it needs to be trained. Having a strong core helps prevent side aches and run more efficiently.
Don't let a side ache keep you from the activities you love. Check with your PT if you have any questions.
One-size-fits all running guidelines can be helpful, but everyone’s body is built and moves differently. Even the slightest differences can have a huge impact. Poor posture, muscle imbalance and improper shoes can all be reasons for an irregular gait.
A running gait analysis can be a great tool to pinpoint weaknesses and help improve your running form when done holistically. A traditional running gait analysis only looks at the feet and ankles to identify abnormalities, and though this can be helpful, it may not be able to identify the underlying problem. On the other hand, a full body running gait analysis looks at how the whole body moves while running. During a full body running gait analysis, a physical therapist records the feet, ankles, knees, hips and trunk of the body from different angles, to help identify issues and determine the best ways to improve your running form. They analyze how the muscles throughout the whole body work together, to uncover abnormalities in your gait that go beyond foot and ankle placement. These abnormalities are the cause of the most common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, knee pain and IT band syndrome.
Correct Poor Posture
Poor posture is one of the most common reasons for lower back pain in runners. Poor posture shifts the center of your body back and does not allow you to use the muscles that stabilize the spine and the lower leg. After a running gait analysis, a physical therapist can customize strengthening exercises and stretches to help correct your posture and activate the correct muscles while running.
Avoid Muscle Imbalance
Running relies on specific muscles, which can cause muscle imbalance. Many times these imbalances cause irregular gait patterns which increase the risk of injury. A physical therapist performing a running gait analysis can recognize these imbalances and show you corrective exercises to strengthen the lesser used muscles.
Make Proper Shoe Selection
All running shoes are not the same. Sometimes poor footwear is the reason for an altered and painful running gait. Using the correct footwear that offers the proper support can often show improvement in running form and help reduce pain with running. A running gait analysis can identify the striking pattern of your foot, so a professional shoe recommendation can be given.
A gait analysis is about looking at the interaction of the whole body while moving. Whether it is a more appropriate shoe or corrective exercises, a running gait analysis can greatly help improve your running game.
In the past, a young athlete's closet might be packed with multiple types of sports gear, resulting in a jumble of tennis racquets, baseball gloves, and running shoes.
But increasingly, an emphasis on excelling in a single sport is whittling down that equipment stash — and significantly reducing recovery time as well.
Less Recovery, More Injuries
Focus on mastering a particular sport often leads to year-round competitions, clinics, and camps, which means that athletes don't get "off seasons" like they used to.
This increases the risk of overuse injuries considerably, since there are no breaks for the body to make necessary adjustments and repairs, which are particularly essential for younger athletes. Kids and teenagers are still going through numerous changes in their hormone levels, muscle mass, bone growth, and joint laxity. Depriving the body of the time and rest it needs to work on these changes may be setting athletes up for chronic injury.
Even for young athletes who do multiple sports, intense competition can put stress on the body and heighten the chances of problems. Recovery periods not only give the body a chance to rest and rebuild, but also maximizes muscle repair.
More Recovery, Better Performance
In addition to preventing injuries, recovery periods can lead to more optimized sports performance.
For some young athletes, that might seem counterintuitive — after all, what's more effective: training or recovery? But that's a trick question, because they're equally important, and they both contribute to more strength, speed, and conditioning.
During recovery times, an athlete should focus on hydration, nutrition, stretching, and rest. That contributes to a whole-body recovery strategy that leaves a young athlete feeling refreshed and ready to take on higher levels of training.
Without recovery, the opposite is true — training can lead to fatigue and stress, which may result in mood changes, difficulty concentrating, and frustration over performance plateaus.
Part of the appeal of intense training for young athletes is that they become proficient at a certain sport, or a couple pursuits. But without proper recovery, it's difficult to avoid injury and stay at the top of your game, no matter what your sport might be.
Through strategies like jump training, effective rest periods, and deceleration training, young athletes can avoid many different ligament, muscle and tendon injuries that are becoming far too common these days.
For even more preventative care and increased performance, there's another tactic to consider as well: movement evaluation.
Done by a professional physical therapist or sports therapist, this type of comprehensive assessment is often done when an athlete is not injured, in order to evaluate body mechanics and anatomic alignment. The therapist will guide an athlete through a number of movements in order to see patterns or areas of weakness that could lead to future injury. Here's why this type of assessment can help young athletes:
Establishes a Baseline: When a child or adolescent athlete comes in to see a therapist after an injury, there's no way to determine if the issue was caused by bad luck, bad alignment, or bad coaching. With a movement evaluation, a therapist will have a baseline that can be hugely useful for understanding the factors that may be contributing to an injury or condition.
Prevents Injuries: Overuse of certain tendons or muscles can cause significant damage, and weaken an athlete's body in certain areas. This creates a perfect storm for injuries. Movement evaluation can spot overuse tendencies before they become a problem, and re-train an athlete in a way that helps prevent chronic injury.
Enhances Performance: Through movement evaluation, a therapist will be able to see numerous issues, such as muscular tightness, stability problems, compensation in response to past injuries, and early muscle fatigue. By pursuing movement training that addresses these situations, an athlete is often able to increase performance and get stronger, faster, and more agile, because the body is in better alignment and operating at optimal functionality.
There are many concerns when it comes to potential injuries for young athletes. But being proactive through a tactic like movement evaluation can go a long way toward helping your young player stay safe and enjoy sports for years to come.
In addition to boosting physical activity for children and teenagers, youth sports offer plenty of benefits when it comes to teaching teamwork, discipline, and motivation. But sometimes those lessons come at a high cost.
Happy National Bike Month! With the weather getting warmer and the roads becoming bike friendly again, cycling injuries become much more common. Not all injuries can be avoided, but there are some simple steps to help reduce the risk of injury.
1. Achilles Tendonitis
As the largest tendon in the body the Achilles tendon endures a lot of wear and tear. Your Achilles connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and is used for nearly all activity. Achilles tendonitis typically occurs from the overuse of the calves. Cycling puts a fair amount of strain on the calves if the bike is not fitted properly, if there is improper warm up before rides or due to inadequate rest time between long bike rides.
Because Achilles tendonitis is caused by inflammation due to overuse, it is important to rest and ice to decrease inflammation. Sometimes Achilles tendonitis occurs because the saddle sits too high. This puts constant strain on the calves because the toes are always pointing down when the leg is extended.1 Be sure to lower the saddle enough that your heel makes contact with the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Doing this will help take off some of the strain put on the calves.
2. Neck Pain
Riding in the same position for a long period of time puts quite a bit of strain on the neck. Cycling changes the natural weight distribution of the muscles surrounding the spine. This puts your neck in an awkward position which causes muscle stiffness and soreness, but often this can be prevented by insuring proper bike fit and position.
To help alleviate neck pain, use proper bike fit recommendations that puts your whole spine in a good position2:
3. Muscle Tightness
Though you may not notice it while cycling, your calves and hamstrings are probably too tight. A proper warm up is necessary for all athletic activity, including cycling. Cycling is a repetitive movement that uses a limited range of motion causing adaptive shortening, resulting in muscle tightness3. Be sure to always, warm up, dynamic stretch and cool down to avoid muscle tightness.
1. Ray, L. (2015). Is Biking Good for the Achilles Tendon? Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/380290-is-biking-good-for-the-achilles-tendon/
2. B. (2015). 3 Top Tips to Avoid a Stiff Neck from Cycling - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/08/3-top-tips-to-avoid-a-stiff-neck-from-cycling/
3. Murphy, S., & C. (n.d.). Eight injury-busting stretches for cyclists. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/article/eight-injury-busting-stretches-for-cyclists-26074/
Pelvic health is a topic not often talked about due to embarrassment, and therefore few are aware of what pelvic health is. First it is important to know what the pelvic floor is. The “pelvic floor” are the muscles that attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum. These muscles support the pelvic organs as well as control bladder, bowel and sexual function. When these muscles are damaged, become weakened, or are too tight and restricted, it leads to pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). Because the subject of pelvic health is widely unknown, many are unaware there are physical therapists who specialize in strengthening, re-training, or relaxing these muscles and help correct PFD.
Here are three common misconceptions about pelvic physical therapy:
Men do not need to worry about pelvic health
Although almost one-quarter of women face pelvic floor disorders1, everyone has pelvic floor muscles, therefore men can suffer from PFD as well. The conversation of pelvic pain, incontinence and other pelvic dysfunctions are most often geared towards women, however men also suffer from these problems. On average pelvic physical therapists patients are 20% - 30% men. The most common reasons men see a pelvic physical therapist are due to complaints of pain in the pelvic area, prostate issues, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
Postpartum women only see pelvic physical therapists
Though this is a common reason to see a pelvic physical therapist, there are other motives. Some of the most common objectives for seeing a pelvic physical therapist include incontinence, bladder dysfunction, prolapse, poor pelvic alignment, pain with intercourse and pelvic pain due to a surgery, fall, pelvic instability or chronic disease such as endometriosis.
Pelvic floor dysfunctions are just a normal part of aging
Yes, pelvic floor dysfunctions become much more common in those over 50, but it is not something you have to live with. Pelvic physical therapists can help. Simple behavior changes, exercises and manual therapy are all tool to help reduce the symptoms of a PFD or eliminate them.
1. Roughly One Quarter of U.S. Women Affected By Pelvic Floor Disorders, September 17, 2008 News Release - National Institutes of Health (NIH). (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/roughly-one-quarter-us-women-affected-pelvic-floor-disorders
Just a quick glance at any playground will confirm that kids are natural jumpers. Most have a tendency to leap at any opportunity — whether on a sports field, or in the middle of the grocery store. But even though many of them love jumping, that doesn't mean they don't risk injury when it happens during practice or competition.
Improper training technique with jumping is one of the reasons that many emergency rooms and physician offices are seeing a rise in sports injuries among young athletes. When kids land poorly, they risk hurting their joints, bones, tendons, and muscles, and could be setting themselves up for long recovery periods — sometimes, a bad jump takes them out of a sport completely.
Although there are many strategies for preventing youth injuries, jump training should be part of any training regimen. Here are the main reasons why:
All athletes struggle with weaknesses and limitations, but young athletes have different concerns than adults. They have changing muscle mass and growing bones, and their joints can be more prone to overuse injuries because of tight tendons.
For example, inadequate training can cause Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition caused by injury or overuse of the knee that results in swelling of the patellar tendon and the soft tissues surrounding it. Adolescent athletes are at much higher risk for this disease. Jump training can minimize these risks and teach young athletes to protect their whole bodies, including tendons and muscles, while they're practicing and playing.
Performance and Optimization
Preventing injuries is a significant part of jump training, but the optimization aspects are also a major benefit. By learning to jump properly, young athletes can increase speed and endurance, and advance in their chosen sports at a faster pace.
Jump training can even cause advantages in other ways. For example, a recent study showed that when jump training was followed by resistance training, overall performance soared for adolescent basketball players.
In general, it's important for young athletes to learn control and body mechanics so they can be safer in any type of movement, including jumping. Taking the time and effort to integrate jump training into everyday practice can go a long way toward preventing injuries and improving performance
Pilates has exponentially grown in popularity in the past years and continues to be one of the fastest growing exercises in the world, but few are aware of its benefits in injury rehabilitation.
Reasons for Injury
Muscle imbalance is one of the most common reasons for injury. Pain, soreness, and other physical dysfunctions are rarely isolated problems. Pain in one part of the body is usually due to a functional limitation elsewhere. Your injured knee could be caused by weak hamstring and gluteal muscles or lower back pain could be because of tight hip flexors. Pilates helps correct these imbalances and builds core strength, flexibility and proper alignment.
Pilates-Infused vs Traditional Rehabilitation Exercises
Traditional rehabilitation methods usually work to strengthen isolated muscles involved in the injury, which only addresses the symptoms rather than looking at the injury holistically. Pilates promotes even musculature strength throughout the whole body by focusing on the core and other stabilizing muscles. However, when physical therapy is combined with proper Pilates techniques it activates and strengthens muscles from various angles in many ranges of motion to treat the real problem at hand—helping to reduce the risk of re-injury.
Beyond rehabilitation, cross-training with Pilates also can help stop injuries before they happen. Building a strong core and increasing flexibility allows you to move more efficiently, adding an extra layer of protection from injury.
Pilates as a New Form of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation through Pilates is a progression; it starts with a focus on strengthening the deep supporting muscles. Once a foundation of strength is built, complex movements are added to integrate the injured area into fully functional and sport-specific movement patterns.
2. Low Impact
Pilates is mostly low impact, light resistance and uses mindful movements. It fills the gap between non-weight bearing, open chain exercises and weight bearing exercises. This makes it safer and more effective when rehabilitating an injury.
3. Not all Pilates is created equal
While Pilates at a fitness center can be beneficial, the instructors will not be able to give you the most effective movements for your injury and your specific needs, or even worse increase the imbalance that caused the injury in the first place. One of the most beneficial aspects of infusing Pilates in your injury rehabilitation program is the guidance of a trained physical therapist during your sessions. Having a physical therapist guide you through the movements in a one-on-one session can result in a much quicker, safer and more effective recovery as well as allow you to apply this knowledge to your future exercise regimen.
Because Pilates is such an effective and powerful recovery tool, Viverant has recently introduced eVolution into their injury recovery program. eVolution is based on the simple principle of – focused, core development and maintenance through a therapist-driven Pilates-based strengthening program.
Did you know you can contact Viverant without a doctor referral to schedule an appointment regarding Pilates and other services that may help you?
Contact us today to get started.
877-609-0123 or 952-835-4512