Archive for Sports
Stretching is the part of our workout regimen many of us tend to skip. We might say it is because of lack of time, impatience or a feeling that stretching is “pointless.” However it is important that our joints are able to move in various directions with a certain degree of freedom. As our bodies age, we become stiffer and lose the flexibility we had when we were young. Chances are unless you’re a dancer or a gymnast, you’ll have lost that fluid flexibility you had as a child even in your twenties. However, it is never too late to regain enough flexibility to remain youthful and limber by training through stretching. Proper stretching allows us to continue doing our daily tasks into old age, such as reaching that high shelf, bending to pick up a dropped object, or accessing that hidden switch behind an awkward kitchen cabinet.
One reason it’s really important to stretch before working out is that we are likely to use muscles and tendons that are normally inactive. Without flexibility to those muscles, the risk of injury or of tearing those muscles and tendons when used, is higher. If stretching is done correctly before working out, it’s a good prevention against injury, and can also be used to treat injuries as well. Finally, when done properly, stretching simply feels good. It can be a great way to gently start the day or to wind down after work. Preparing the body for exercise by warming up the muscles by stretching is easy and need not take up much of your time. This will increase the blood flow to your muscles and loosen them up allowing you to exercise without having to worry about injury or being overly sore the next day. Simply warm up the various muscle groups with slow stretches of the joints towards the end of their range of motion; this should cause the feeling of a gentle “pull” being felt in the muscles. Hold the position for up to half a minute and then alternate side or muscle groups.
Not only does stretching prevent injury, but it also improves the mechanical efficiency of your body. Stretching prior to exercise means the muscles are stretched and warmed up, allowing them to undergo the full range of motion with less effort when exercising – this means the body’s overall performance is improved. Other added benefits to stretching include improved circulation to the muscles and joints, alleviating the pains felt post-workout, and stretching can also help to improve your posture. If you find at the end of the day stiff and achy from sitting at a desk all day – try stretching. You might find that you’ll feel instantly better. Regular stretching in your shoulders and neck may help you to maintain a better posture. As a result, this may help to prevent the onset of lower back pain.
References Used:  http://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/incorporating-stretching-your-exercise-routine Accessed October 2011  http://www.healthnewengland.com/newsletters/LivingWell/LW/Livewell13.pdf Accessed October 2011
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
When it comes to the Big Three of exercise – cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility – it’s pretty clear which one can get overlooked. After all, while we prize cardiovascular and strength training for their role in helping us lose weight, build muscle and get fit, the benefits of flexibility training are less immediately alluring.
However, as the population ages, more of us are learning to appreciate the rewards of stretching. Staying limber can offset age-related stiffness, improve athletic performance, and optimize functional movement in daily life. Research shows that flexibility training can develop and maintain range of motion and may help prevent and treat injury. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine has added flexibility training to its general exercise recommendations, advising that stretching exercises for the major muscle groups be performed two to three days per week.
How can you include an effective flexibility workout in your fitness program? Here are some guidelines:
Think in Terms of Serious Flexibility Training, Not Just Brief Stretching.
Squeezing in one or two quick stretches before or after a workout is better that nothing, but this approach will yield limited results. What’s more, generic stretches may not be effective for your particular body. The more time and attention you give to your flexibility training, the more benefits you’ll experience. A qualified chiropractor, personal trainer, physical therapist or health professional can design a functional flexibility program specifically for you.
Consider Your Activities.
Are you a golfer? Do you ski, run or play tennis? Do your daily home or work routines include bending, lifting or sitting for long periods? Functional flexibility improves the stability and mobility of the whole person in his or her specific environment. An individualized stretching program is best to improve both stability (the ability to maintain ideal body alignment during all activities) and mobility (the ability to use full, normal range of motion).
Pay Special Attention to Tight Areas.
Often the shoulder, chest, hamstrings and hips are particularly tight, but you may hold tension in other areas, depending on your history of injuries and the existing imbalances in your muscle groups. Unless you tailor your flexibility training to your strengths and weaknesses, you may stretch already overstretched muscles and miss areas that need training.
Listen to Your Body.
Stretching is an individual thing. Pay attention to your body’s signals and don’t push too far. Avoid bouncing or jerking movements to gain momentum; this approach can be dangerous.
Instead, slowly stretch your muscles to the end point of movement and hold the stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds. Older adults, pregnant women and people with injuries will need to take special precautions.
Varying your flexibility training can help you stick with it. You can use towels, resistance balls and other accessories to add diversity and effectiveness to your stretching.
Warm Up First.
Don’t forget to warm up your muscles before you begin. Walking briskly for 10 to15 minutes is a simple way to do this.
Find a Flexibility Class That Works for You.
Classes that include stretching are becoming more popular and more diverse. Some combine cardiovascular and strength components with the flexibility training; others focus exclusively on stretching.
Stretch Your Mind and Body.
Did you know that your emotional state may affect your flexibility? If your body is relaxed, it will be more responsive to flexibility training. Listening to music and focusing on your breath can help you relax as you stretch. You may also want to explore yoga or Pilates. In addition to stretching, classes in these disciplines may include relaxation, visualization and other mind-body techniques designed to reduce stress and increase mindfulness.
It’s Not Just for Wimps.
Forget the idea that stretching is just for elderly, injured or unconditioned people. Many Olympic and professional athletes rely on flexibility training for peak performance.
Do It Consistently.
It doesn’t help to stretch for a few weeks and then forget about it. Integrate regular stretching into your permanent fitness program. For inspiration, look to cats and dogs – they’re dedicated practitioners of regular stretching and you rarely see them getting the kind of joint or muscular injuries that humans get!
Your chiropractor is a great resource for functional stretches specific to your needs. Be sure to ask about a customized flexibility program at your next visit.
PGA golfers Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington have used chiropractic services for years in order to improve and maintain their golfing performance. Their successes suggest a benefit of chiropractic care, but it’s hard to know if it’s because of the care or because they are world-class athletes. Can chiropractic care help the average golfer improve their performance as well? The very nature of the game of golf suggests a good match for players with chiropractic care. Golfing can involve considerable strain on the spine. Golfers need to move from a standing position quickly to club head speeds, requiring good posture, balance, and the ability to rotate the spine properly. Poor posture can create exaggerated or flattened spinal curves that can seriously affect swing performance.
In fact, Tom Ward, PGA Golf Instructor, says, “Over 50% of all golfers will experience some sort of pain due to poor posture and the problems that arise from loss of proper curves in the spine.” By working with your spinal range of motion, chiropractic care can help correct golf injuries, maintain performance, and improve the posture needed to perform a good golf swing. When the chiropractor aligns all the vertebrae, the spine can move better. An individualized treatment plan including chiropractic adjustments, specific rehabilitation exercises and muscle techniques may make a significant difference in your overall performance and enjoyment of the sport.
Recent research confirms that chiropractic care can indeed lead to improved golf performance. A recent study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine demonstrated that the combination of chiropractic care and stretching are associated with greater improvements in golfers swing when compared to stretching alone. Two groups of golfers participated in the study. One group received a program of stretching only, and the second received both stretching and spinal manipulation.
The stretching program was the same for both groups, and both groups had similar average ages, handicaps, and initial swings. All 43 participants initially performed three full swing maneuvers, and the average distances were recorded. Over a 4-week period, all participants hit 3 balls before and after treatment. After 4 weeks, the stretching only group showed no improvement in swing performance. However the stretching and manipulation group did improve their swing performance and there was greater driving distance right after treatment each week. So it appears that yes, chiropractic care can help not only top golfers such as Woods and Harrington, but it can help you improve your golf game too.
 Tom Ward, PGA Instructor. http://www.golflink.com/golf-tips/tips/ward032.aspx  Journal of Chiropractic Medicine (2009) 8, 165-170.
Running is wonderful cardiovascular exercise and a popular workout choice for men and women. Just as a carpenter requires the right tools for his trade, the right pair of running shoes is essential for both the casual and the serious runner. There are some things to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
How far and often will you be running? If you are a casual runner (less than ten miles per week), then a basic running shoe will be fine. If you are training for a marathon, consider making a true investment in your running shoes for optimal performance.
Consider the arch in your foot. Those with a high arch, need a running shoe with a curved shape. If you have an average arch, a semi-curved shoe might be the best fit. Those with a low arch or flat feet need a straight shape shoe.
Understand pronation, which is the rolling of the foot from heel to toe through the foot strike. A proper or neutral pronation is hitting the outside of the heel and up to ball of your foot evenly across the front. This is how your foot reduces the stress of impact. Underpronation means that the outside of your foot takes most of the shock instead of finishing in the neutral position. Overpronation is too much roll across from the outside to the inside of your foot.
To determine your level of pronation, look at the shoes you walk or run in. Most everyone will begin on the outside of the heel, the real indicator is the wear on the forefoot. If most of the shoe wear is:
• On the medial (inside) side then you Overpronate
• On the lateral (outside) side then you Underpronate
• Uniform across the forefoot then you have a Neutral Stride
Where will you be running? Most people run on pavement or sidewalks, so most running shoes are designed with this in mind. However, if you are going to be running on uneven or softer surfaces (such as mountain trails or grass), look at shoes intended for those kinds of surfaces.
Shop for running shoes late in the afternoon, as feet are at their peak size at this time of day. When trying on the shoe, make sure there is a full thumb width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. In a properly fit running shoe, the toe box will allow the toes to move freely. The heel should not slip or rub against the shoe and the sole should flex with ease where the foot flexes.
Go to a store that specializes in running shoes or at least to a sporting goods store. The sales associates will be able to help you make a decision on the best shoe for you.
If you run often, consider purchasing more than one pair of running shoes. This way, you can rotate them. If you run often, your shoes should be replaced every six months or so.
Do consider price so your budget isn’t blown, but don’t sacrifice comfort and durability in the process.
Runners have a wide selection of styles, colors and levels of comfort from which to choose when looking at running shoes. Remember, whether you are a casual runner or a serious runner, comfort and excellent support are essential for the best performance!
With more and more people taking up recreational running in the US, the number of running associated injuries have also increased. Commonly reported cases include: shin splints; patellofermoral pain syndromes; Achilles tendinitis; flat feet; and compartmental syndromes and stress fractures. All these injuries are a result of cumulative stress reactions to soft tissues and bones. While running, the musculoskeletal system may absorb up to 250-300% of the runner’s weight on the heel strike [1,2,3], and this exerts stress on the body.
Chiropractors are generally contracted to help alleviate pain and non-specific symptoms associated with running, usually from the gradual onset of regular stress on the soft tissues and bones. If these symptoms are caught early, they can then be effectively managed and reduced in a short period of time
. Chiropractic treatment can help excessive pronation
, the inward rolling of the hind foot and the midfoot beyond the acceptable parameters of general walking and running; prolonged internal rotation of the internal extremity
, the inward rotation of the femur, which transmits stress to the pelvic region; and excessive supination
, and those with very high arches who are very sensitive to stress reactions and fractures. While chiropractic treatment can help with pain and injuries, its biggest advantage to runners and athletes is preventive care. Many runners, athletes and non-athletes may ask – why pay for chiropractic treatment when there is no pain to treat? It’s much easier to maintain good health and prevent injury than to treat somebody already in pain. The danger with running injuries is that they are likely to be caused by repetitive stress and alignment problems that take time to develop, and an even longer time for the pain to start. If our bodies were designed with perfect alignment, then we would be able to cope with the regular stress running delivers. However, very few of us do have perfect alignment, and in many cases those with flat feet or high arches are at risk to extra cumulative stress to the body.
 In preventive cases, a chiropractor can give a good overall evaluation, teaching the patient how to prevent injuries and maintain good alignment – thereby reducing the chance of injury. For those looking for preventive treatment, your chiropractor can help assess and evaluate your condition by offering scans of your feet, testing for strength imbalances and an analysis of your posture. In addition, the chiropractor can also suggest a program suited to your needs to prevent injury in the future.
 Lutter LD. Foot-related knee problems in the long-distance runner Foot &Ankle 1980; 1:112-116.  Robbin SF, Hanna AM. Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19.148-156.  Cavanaugh PR, LaFortune.MA. Ground reaction forced in distance running. Biomech 1980; 13:397-406.  Griffith., HJ et aZ Magnetic resonance spectrum of stress injury to bone and ib clinical relevance. (in press) Presented at Annual Symposium of Am Coll Chiro Radiol, 1992.  Michaud TC. Recurrent lower tibial stress fracture in a long-distance runner. Chino Sports Med 1988; 2(3):78-87. 18. Cavanagh PA The shoe ground interface in running. Symposium on the foot and leg in running sports, n.d.  Schafer RC. Clinical Biomechanics Musculoskeletal Actions and Reactions. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1983. 21. Greenawalt MH. Spinal Pelvic Stabilization (4th ed.). Roanoke: Foot Levelers, Inc., 1990.  Subotnick SI. Sports Medicine of the Lower Extremity. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1989:164.  http://www.campanellahealthcenter.com/uncategorized/why-chiropractic-care-is-important-for-runners/ accessed September 2011
Chiropractic care is standard for many pro golfers and increasingly for many Senior Golfers as well. Professional golfer Lori West attributes the reason she’s playing today to chiropractic.
Nearly two decades ago, she began visiting a chiropractor for pain in her shoulders and neck. According to West, the care has infinitely improved her golf game.
The problem is that the golf swing, in and of itself, isn’t conducive to having a healthy back. To have a good swing you create tension in your spine. (This enables you to get good distance).
The tension comes from the hips stopping and the shoulders continuing to rotate. Basically, you make a coil. You’re uncoiling when you start your downswing.
Since that’s an awkward movement for your back, many golfers end up with lower back problems.
Here’s some chiropractic advice.
• Before your game, do some basic stretches. Stretch out hamstrings and groin area.
• Put a club across your shoulders and lean left and right.
• Get in a position of where you would be in a swing and bend left and right.
• Grab a club behind your back and raise it up, stretching your shoulder muscles.
• Grab the club backwards – so if you normally swing right-handed, you’d grab it like you’d be swinging left-handed- and take 10 practice swings that way.
You’re stretching different muscles and it will help you loosen up considerably.
• Do neck stretches. Stiff neck muscles inhibit the rest of the body from turning freely.
Anything that helps your flexibility eventually helps with your game. As you get older, your swing naturally shortens since the muscles aren’t as supple.
During the winter, work on stretching the muscles of the arms, shoulders and back. Flexibility is very important for older golfers.
Also, you have to have good balance if you want to hit the golf ball consistently. A healthy spine is paramount to proper balance and posture.
Improve your balance and you’ll improve your consistency. In needed, orthotic stabilizers for your shoes can help improve balance so your swing is better.
Chiropractors care for your body as a whole, not just the back. So if your golf game is feeling out of sync, chiropractic may be just the very adjustment that your body and game needs!