Archive for Outdoors
With summer at an end, the leaves are turning brown and falling, cluttering up your yard and garden – so it’s only natural you’ll want to get the rake out. However, as with all physical tasks about the house and garden, it is very important you take the necessary precautions against accident and injury. Fall yard work, leaf raking and other outdoor maintenance activities carry numerous risks such as: upper and lower back strain, neck strain and shoulder pain. Just like with sports, if your body isn’t prepared for physical activity this can increase your chances of injury. You can avoid straining yourself by taking simple precautions, such as: doing warm ups, stretches and maintaining good posture.
Athletes are able to reduce the risk of strain and injury by doing warm ups. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends 10-15 minutes of stretching exercises: from trunk rotations, side-bends and knee-to-chest pulls. When these are also combined with a short walk, which helps to stimulate circulation, and with additional stretches at the end, this prepares the body for manual labor associated with raking and yard work. While raking your garden or yard, good posture can also prevent back problems – make sure you keep your back straight and your head up. Use common sense while working: lift with your legs and bend with your knees, taking care you don’t strain your back while picking up bundles of leaves and grass. If you’re likely to carry heavy items, hold them close to your body to help prevent back strain. In order to take the pressure off your back, rake using the “scissors” stance: put your right foot forward and the left one back, then reverse after a few minutes. When using a lawn mower, try to use your body weight to move it as opposed to your arms and back.
It is vitally important to take breaks. Pace yourself, and whenever your body feels tired take a respite – this is particularly important if the weather is hot, so drink lots of water and wear sun-protection such as a hat, sun block and protective glasses. Investing in extra protective gear, such as gloves to prevent blisters, a mask if you’re prone to allergies and protective eyewear, can make life easier while taking on outdoor chores. Ergonomic tools with extra padding, larger or curved handles are less strenuous to use over a long-time period. Changing tasks regularly helps to prevent repetitive strain injury of certain muscle groups – change positions, or simply move onto another task for a short period of time before returning to the previous one. Make plans for your gardening tasks; make sure they’re realistic and unlikely to cause strain or exhaust you too much. If you’re unaccustomed to physical labor, chances are you will feel sore and stiff the next day – in this case, use ice to soothe the discomfort, but if there is no improvement in your aches and pains, then see a chiropractor.
The question of whether repeated headers in the game of soccer have a long-term impact on the brain or cognitive function is a raging debate among experts with no clear answer one way or another. An LA Times article on the subject makes this clear in its opening line…”Like a loose ball in a kids’ game, argument over the safety of heading in soccer has parents, coaches and scientists scrambling all over.” The one place where there is solid agreement is that proper form is the key to preventing injury. Even if your child plays in a league where heading isn’t allowed, kids will emulate in the backyard what they see the top soccer players doing on TV. Take a moment to learn the basics of proper form so you can double check what you, your child and your child’s coach are doing. Here are a few dos and don’ts to look for: Do strike the ball with the head. Don’t allow the ball to hit you in the head.
The main thing to remember is that the player should actively ‘strike the ball with the head’ rather than allowing the ball to ‘hit them in the head’. It is very hard to learn the skill of intentionally hitting a flying object with your head! The player needs to be active and purposeful in heading the ball, not passive. Do keep your eyes open and locked on the ball. Don’t close your eyes when heading a soccer ball. The most common mistake that young players make is closing their eyes. Instead, keep the eyes open and locked on the part of the ball you want to head. Do use the whole body to generate your power. Don’t try to use your neck muscles. Another mistake is believing that the power in a soccer header comes from the neck muscles. It doesn’t. In a traditional header, the power comes from the upper body. The back is arched in preparation for the header and the torso is trust forward to contact the ball. All the while, the chin is tucked toward the chest. This stabilizes the neck. In a diving header, the neck position is locked and stabilized and the entire body is propelled forward to contact the ball.
The power comes from the jump and gravity, not the neck. Do use a ball that is age-appropriate. Don’t use a wet ball for practice. Soccer balls come in different sizes for a reason. When practicing headers, make sure you are using the right size ball for your age and not a ball that is too large and heavy. Also, as a soccer ball gets wet, the weight increases by 20% or more, so for practice, choose a dry ball. As we stated at the beginning of the article, the debate about whether heading a soccer ball is safe for children (and adults) rages on. What we do know for sure is that kids will do it with or without proper instruction and that proper technique is the key to injury prevention. As adults, our job is to provide the proper instruction to keep our kids safe playing ‘the beautiful game’.
Bibliography Dreyfuss, I. (2001, May 20). Experts Face Off About Soccer Heading. LA Times. Institute for Sports Medicine Heading the Soccer Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 9, 2011, from Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago, IL: http://www.childrensmemorial.org/depts/sportsmedicine/heading-soccer-ball.aspx Kirkendall, D., & Garrett, W. E. (2001). Heading in Soccer: Integral Skill or Grounds for Cognitive Dysfunction? Journal of Athletic Training, 36(3), 328-333. Soccer Training Heading the Ball. (n.d.). Retrieved 9 9, 2011, from ExpertFootball.com: http://expertfootball.com/training/heading.php