Spreading Christmas Cheer, One Run at a Time…

me and kahluaI wish I could take credit for the start of this, but two years ago I was invited to a challenge on DailyMile (sort of a Facebook for endurance athletes of all abilities). One of the members on the site, Chris N., has been running with a Santa hat every Christmas Eve since 1998. He started a challenge on the site to try and get more people to join in the fun and help spread the Christmas cheer. I’m not sure when he first started the challenge on DailyMile, but each year it grows in popularity.

I did it for the first time in 2011, and was completely amazed at what happened on my Christmas Eve run. I bought a cheapo Santa hat for $1, put on a red wind breaker, whiteIMG_20131224_134937_278 gloves, white socks and my red Vibram Five Fingers. Normally, drivers of cars ignore and/or are completely unaware of runners or treat them with downright avarice, but not on this run. It started with one smile and friendly wave, but continued to grow from there. By the end I had received dozens of thumbs up, waves, smiles, and friendly honks, that my Christmas spirit grew 3 sizes that day… I had so much fun in fact, that I donned my Santa hat, and went for another run Christmas Day, and received and spread even more Christmas cheer than I had on Christmas Eve.

Santa hat run 2012I put the hat away after the Christmas Day run, and didn’t bring it out again until the next year’s challenge came around. Christmas Eve 2012 I again donned my Santa hat and set out for another run, but in a new location. This year was in a much more rural location than the one in 2011, so I wasn’t expecting much from it. I had a long run planned for the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) and so decided to start the run a day early figuring that longer I was out, the more cheer I could spread. With the thinner population, I thought this might equal out with last year. Cars were few, and far between, but I was met with even more enthusiasm and cheer than the previous year. There may still have been fewer people, despite running over 4 times as far, but the percentage of people cheered was much higher (though I failed to post about it).  I ran with the Santa hat again Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day. I saw 2012HuffUltra50K684almost no one those two runs, but still had lots of fun.

Several days later I donned it one last time for the Huff 50k. With my full beard, redjacket, white gloves and Santa hat, I was definitely a hit out on the course. I had a lot of fun with the other racers and volunteers throughout the race. Entertained myself the last few miles asking the volunteers if they had seen a team of reindeer run by, and exclaiming I was getting sick of these reindeer games ditching the old guy in the woods…

893043_10201719952055457_195386921_oThis year, I’m at it again. But, I decided to expand the time frame. I actually did my first Santa Hat run 4 days before Christmas, another run 3 days before, and another 2 days before. I will also do a run today, Christmas Day, and plan on running with the Santa hat all the way to New Year’s Eve (and New Year’s Day if possible). Again this year, it has been a blast so far, and the response has been great. I’m in a more populated area again this year, and the response so far has been great. I looking forward to the rest of my planned Santa hat runs.

I’m hoping that by sharing this that I can encourage some of you to come out and join in the fun. If you are on DailyMile then join the challenge. If you’re not, then don’t let that stop you. Grab your Santa hat and go out for a run anyway. The distance and pace aren’t important, just go out with your hat, smile, have fun, and help spread a little Christmas cheer…IMG_20131224_134651_229


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My Concussion Return to Play Protocol Based on Heart Rates

Concussion is obviously a major buzz word, and if you’re in a medical profession and or working with athletes it is more than that, it is something we have to work with. Unfortunately, it is something that we still don’t know a lot about. We are steadily learning more and adjusting how we treat and handle them on a regular basis. There are many good guidelines out there for coaches, PE teachers, athletic trainers, nurses, doctors, etc. to use, and they are good, but they could be better.

In June of 2012 New York State passed The Concussion Management Awareness Act which went into effect on July 1st, 2012. This law led to the development of The Guidelines for Concussion Management in the School Setting. These guidelines were based on the 2008 Zurich Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. A new consensus statement came out in November of 2012, with no significant changes in regards to the graduated return to play protocol (RTPP) (Zurich 08 page 4/758, Zurich 12, NY page 11). It is this RTPP and its implementation and monitoring that is my concern.

As an athletic trainer I have found the new law to be a great. So much of it is clearly defined, and there is no argument. If player, parent, coach (fortunately none of mine) question any decisions in regards to pulling an athlete from activity and restricting them it is very easy to point to the law as the reason. My hands are tied, not my decision dad, little Johnny has to sit. Unfortunately, when it comes to implementing and monitoring the RTPP, things become a little more difficult.

How do you explain to an athlete, coach, parent, etc. what low level activity is? How do you control it to make sure that the athlete is complying? Performance standards don’t really work. For most of my high school athletes a 6 minute mile is either very hard or impossible, but I’ve known cross country runners that can whip one out so casually that it is barely a warm up for them. And, no matter how well you know the kid, how can you truly tell how they are pushing themselves? It is just as important to know that the kid isn’t pushing too hard during their RTPP as it is to know they are pushing hard enough. Don’t want a kid to be released for full return and go into a game without having properly tested themselves beforehand.

In the first year of the law I tried to describe to the athlete what level I was looking for. For example, in step 1 I would say that they should peddle hard enough on the exercise bike that they felt like they were putting out some effort, but they should still be able to talk very comfortably and easily. In step 2 talking while running should be able to talk easily, but it should take a little more effort. Each step it would get a little harder for them to talk, breathe, etc. but this could easily be faked for whoever was monitoring them. The intent of the RTPP is to start with a low level of physical stress, make sure the athlete can handle it without return of symptoms or any difficulty, and then step it up. Each step should increase, but limit stress making sure the athlete can safely handle it before increasing to the next step. No matter what I did though, I wasn’t sure whether the goals were truly being achieved.

I don’t remember exactly what it was that prompted the thought, but sometime during a series of lectures on concussions at EATA symposia last January (2013), I came up with the idea to use heart rate to monitor and control my athletes as they went through RTPP. I spoke with a number of other athletic trainers that weekend and all agreed that it seemed like a great idea. The only problem was buying the heart rate monitors, which could eat up a lot of budget, and designing the heart rate parameters for each step of the RTPP. Especially since I had to keep within the existing protocol from the state and not allow something that would possibly range outside of their parameters.

Over the next couple months I didn’t think about it too much because I knew it wouldn’t be until the following school year that I could attempt to work the monitors into my budget. I didn’t table it totally and kept it percolating in the back of my mind. That summer I started putting some of my ideas down onto paper. I did some research to see if I could find anything relating to it, but there wasn’t much out there. There was plenty on heart rates, zones, effort levels, but nothing that tied into concussions and return to play protocols. The only thing I could find was in both the ’08 and ’12 Zurich statements they referred in the first step to aerobic activity at or below 70% of maximal heart rate. So I made that my starting point.

Just before the start of the school year I had several heart rate monitors donated to me. The Polar FT1’s I was given were very simple and easy to use. They had no fancy functions, but they provided heart rate that the athlete could see and try to control, as well as a record of the time of work out, average heart rate, and max heart rate for the workout, and I could set their target heart rate zone. I was now in a position to start using heart rate in my RTPP. Just two final steps remained, creating a working protocol, and getting permission to use it.

I went through several drafts before coming up with one that I submitted to my AD and our team doctor. New York States protocol had one more step then Zurich’s, and I ended up using the 70% HR for step 2, and so lowered step 1 and created a range of 60-65%, and step 2 65-70%, and each step increased by 5%. Everything looked good and I was ready to try it.

Unfortunately, I had athletes all too soon that had concussions and therefore needed to go through the RTPP. Everything worked well for the first couple of steps. The athletes were instructed to keep their heart rate in the correct zone. I told them the number range and programed the watch to beep at them when they were out of it. They were told that failure to remain in the proper zone could either have the workout stopped, and therefore nullified, if they went to high and they would have to try again the next day, and if they were too low, the workout would not count and they would also try again the next day.

The first step the athletes were initially limited to exercise bike and on second step running (treadmill or outside monitored), but I quickly opened up step one to a couple of other low impact aerobic machine we had (UBE, and rowing machine) and step two I included a couple of more and changed workout to at least 10min of running and then the rest of the workout could be on any of the machines (also have stepper and elliptical machines).

The heart rate monitors worked great for the first two steps. We caught one athlete pushing too hard and stopped them before any they could do themselves any harm and all others managed to keep themselves in the correct range. Problems didn’t start to arise until the remaining steps.

In step 3 the athletes return to sport specific activity. Unfortunately it is rare that this results in a consistent heart rate, so I had to amend protocol again. The athletes were instructed to keep their heart rates within prescribed range as much as possible, and to not go over it, but that they could drop below the zone as practice dictated. This wasn’t a big deal, but it meant my monitors were no longer as effective. I could check to make sure that the athletes didn’t push too hard, but there averages were now well below the zone and I had no way to judge how much time was spent at the effort level that they needed to test themselves at. I had no choice but to once again work somewhat in the blind. I used the max heart rate to keep the athletes under control and had to trust coaches and athletes that they were pushing hard enough.

I am in the process of ordering an upgraded heart rate monitor that will correct this problem. I’ve done some research and got a few recommendations and I am looking at getting the Polar RS300X. It has programmable zones and records how much time is spent in each zone. This is a bit of a bump up in cost, and will take more of a chunk of my budget, but from the results I’ve had so far with the FT1’s I think it will be worth it.

I also started finding that some of the athletes were having trouble staying within the heart rate parameters on step 2. Once they started going fast enough on treadmill to actually run they were over the top end of the limit and once they slowed heart rate down to proper range, it was too slow to run anymore. Upon further review of the Zurich consensus statement I decided that step 2 could be bumped up a notch, and every step thereafter, and still stay within their limited heart rate recommendations. So I increased every step by 5% and expanded the range on the last 2 steps.

Another problem that has very recently arisen is with wrestling. We have had some difficulty with the watches on step 5 being accidently stopped during wrestling, and they have caught on clothing. As a result, we are currently not using them with the wrestlers during contact activities on day 5 (also worried about athlete safety). I have found a couple of possible solutions to the problem, but need to research them further. One is that Polar makes a transmitter, wearlink+, which links with a device that can be plugged into a pc or laptop and record the data from a distance up to about 20 meters. They also make a Bluetooth transmitter that is compatible with newer iPads and iPhones. They even make an app for them that looks like it could open up interesting possibilities. Unfortunately I don’t have an iPhone or compatible iPad, so won’t be looking into that route for a while.

All of that being said, our RTPP is currently as follows:

Concussion Return to Play Protocol

Athlete must be symptom free for 24+ hours, fully return to ALL academic activities, pass ImPACT test and be cleared by School Medical Director before beginning this progression. No more than one (1) step may be done a day. If there is any return of symptoms, athlete must stop activity immediately, and be seen by school medical personnel, and after symptom free 24+ hours, may return to last symptom free step that they had done. The athletic trainers will monitor and control the athlete through the entire return to play protocol. Athlete must be seen by athletic trainer daily, before and after all activity including prior to start of Step/Day 6. Athletes will wear a heart rate monitor programmed by the athletic trainer for all five steps of the progression.

Step/Day #1:  Low impact, non-strenuous, light activity – 20-25min on exercise bike (may also use rowing machine, or UBE) at 65-70% Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax).

Step/Day #2:  Higher impact, higher exertion, moderate aerobic activity (running, stair stepper, elliptical, rowing machine, bike, &/or UBE), no resistance training – 25-35min (at least 10 minutes of which must be on treadmill or running) at 70-75% HRmax.

Step/Day #3:  Sport specific non-contact activity. Low resistance weight training (must be able to do 12-15+ reps) with a spotter – 35-45min at 75-80% HRmax. HR may drop below 75% due to nature of practice, but can never be more than 80% and should spend part of practice in correct zone.

Step/Day #4:  Sport specific activity, non-contact drill, higher resistance weight training (6-10 reps) with a spotter – 45-80min at 75-85% HRmax. HR may drop below 75% due to nature of practice, but can never be more than 85% and should spend part of practice in correct zone.

Step/Day #5:  Full contact training drills and intense aerobic activity – 60-120min at 85+% HRmax. HR may drop below 85% due to nature of practice, but should spend part of practice in correct zone and must incorporate some maximal efforts such as repeat full speed sprints (4+ sprints of 50+ yards).

Step/Day #6:  Return to full activities with clearance from School Medical Director.

As you can see, this progression stays right in line with the NYS protocol; it just adds a heart range for monitoring and control purposes. Notice I’ve also added in number of reps for weight training. I’m sure that this is something that will continue to be adjusted and changed with time and experience and as new research comes out. For now though, it is working well, but I’d love to get feedback on the RTPP from others. What are your thoughts on what I’m doing, good or bad? What are you doing to monitor and control your athletes through your RTPP? Do you know of any research that counters, or supports what I am doing? Thank you in advance. I’m looking forward to what everyone has to say.

I know that budgets can be tight, and heart rate monitors are an expensive luxury. However, when we are talking about the safety of our athletes, especially when dealing with concussions, the money is well spent. If the money doesn’t exist in the athletic training budget, athletic directors usually have discretionary money, as do principals and headmasters. If all else fails, parents associations are for the safety of their kids and can always find money for something as important as safety…

Posted in Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Athletics, concussion, education, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, heart rate, Injury, Medical, rehab, rehabilitation, return to play protocol, Sports, Sports Medicine, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Youth Athletes NEED Your Help! #NATM2013 #YouthSafety

NATM_2013_2blueA 15 year old soccer player goes up to head a soccer ball during a game, knocks heads with an opposing player, and drops to the ground unconscious. A 16 year old softball player squares up to bunt, gets hit in the chest with a fastball, makes it halfway to first and collapses. A 17 year old receiver goes up for a pass, his legs are knocked out from under him, he lands on his head snapping his neck to the side, and can’t move any part of his body. A 12 year old track runner is stung by a bee and goes into anaphylactic shock. A 13 year old basketball player goes into a diabetic coma at practice. A 14 year old wrestler with an undiagnosed heart condition collapses at practice.

All of these are realistic scenarios that happen all over our country every year. At 58% of high schools across the country there is only a coach, who may or may not have basic first aid training, available to handle the emergency. In youth leagues outside of the school, there is only a coach, and chances are they don’t have even basic first aid training, as they are often a parent volunteer. Every year youth athletes fail to receive proper emergency medical care when they need it. This must change.

There is currently a **petition (petition failed) being circulated online to change this. The petition is trying to ensure the availability of an athletic trainer to ALL youth athletes. Athletic trainers are sports medicine professionals that are trained in prevention, care and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. They receive and continually practice emergency medical techniques including: professional level CPR and AED, emergency airway management, immobilization of spinal cord injuries, recognition of concussions, diabetic emergencies, severe allergic reactions, heat and cold injuries, heart problems, breathing emergencies and more. ALL pro and college athletes have an athletic trainer protecting their safety, don’t our youth athletes deserve the same? Please sign and share the **petition (failed). The child’s life you save may be your own…

March is National Athletic Training Month: Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer

Posted in #AT4All, #AT4EveryBody, #ATsPrepareNY, #NATM2013, #NATM2014, #NATM2015, #NYNATM2015, Airway Management, AT4All, Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Athletics, ATsPrepareNY, broken toe, concussion, crash, Cycling, dehydration, education, Emergency, Emergency Medical Training, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, fracture, hydration, Injury, Injury Prevention, Medical, National Athletic Training Month, NATM, NATM2015, NYNATM2015, Prevention, Race, rehab, rehabilitation, Running, Running Injury, Sports, Sports Medicine, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Athletic Trainer’s Tip: Roll Out Those Tight, Sore Muscles…

NATM_2013_2blueThe market place is continually flooded with gimmicks and devices to help you be fitter, stronger, and healthier. They claim by using their product you’ll get this incredibly strong, lean, and well muscled body. The majority of them do nothing more for you than what regular exercise, diet, etc can do for you, and many of them don’t even do that. A big key to their effectiveness is you actually have to work hard and eat right, which is not something they advertise. But, if they get you to actually work out, that is there one true benefit.

As an athletic trainer I try to keep an eye out for all of these new products, because I continually have athletes, friends and family asking me about them. Occasionally there is even one that actually is of benefit, and I make use of it with my athletes. A couple of years ago one such product started to catch my attention. I was skeptical at first, but more I heard, the more I was intrigued and I finally tried it first on myself, and then on my athletes and have had great success with it. Many of you may be familiar with it, but I still find quite a few who have not heard of or tried foam rollers yet, so feel it is worth writing about.

Nothing can replace a good sports massage for breaking up adhesions, and helping tight, sore muscles, but a foam roller can be a good stand in. As an athletic trainer working with high school athletes, the ratio of athletes to athletic trainers, and the amount of time that I have the athletes to work with is prohibitive of my doing as much hands on work as I would prefer, and is often necessary. I do as much as possible, and make what adjustments I can, but massage is not something I really have time to do.

In the past I would use massage for only some of the worst problems, and rely on heat and stretching for most of the others. However, once I found out about foam rollers and started incorporating them regularly with my athletes that were suffering from muscle soreness, tightness, and minor strains, the rehab times shortened and outcomes improved tremendously. My athletes not only were getting better faster, but I started having them use foam rollers as preventive and I’ve been seeing fewer muscle injuries as a result.

You can find foam rollers just about anywhere that sells sporting goods, usually in same area as aerobic and general fitness items. They are inexpensive, and when coupled with a good stretching program as part of a proper warm up and cool down they are a great tool for helping to avoid injury. If you’re an athlete with tight or sore muscles they are worth checking out.

Our youth athletes need your help to ensure their safety! Please **read & sign! (petition failed)

March is National Athletic Training Month: Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer

Posted in #AT4All, #AT4EveryBody, #ATsPrepareNY, #NATM2013, #NATM2015, #NYNATM2015, AT4All, Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Athletics, ATsPrepareNY, cool down, Cycling, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, foam roller, Injury, Injury Prevention, massage, Medical, muscle soreness, muscle tightness, National Athletic Training Month, NATM, NATM2015, NYNATM2015, Prevention, Race, rehab, rehabilitation, Running, Running Injury, Sports, sports massage, Sports Medicine, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, warm up, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Athletic Trainers Helping Our Athletes

NATM_2013_2blueThis last weekend was the beginning of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships, and the NCAA wrestling championships, just to name a few events. Every one of those teams had an athletic trainer with them. Every one of those athletic trainers gave up time with their families so that they could be there for their athletes. That sacrifice is one that is part of the athletic trainer’s job, but they do it because of their sense of responsibility to their athletes.

The team athletic trainer is responsible for the safety and well being of all of their athletes. This begins with the usual pregame tapings and treatments, so that they can have their athletes as ready as possible to safely play at their best. The next part of their job is to be ready for any injuries that may occur during the game and make a qualified decision as to whether it is safe for them to return to the game and provide any taping, bandaging, etc that may be needed for their safe return. If it isn’t safe for the athlete to return then they still care for the injury. None of this is something a coach is trained for or is it safe to entrust the coach to do.

More importantly though, they are there, and ready for true medical emergencies. These can include concussion, an athlete whose heart is no longer beating, or has stopped breathing, or has a spinal cord injury, or gone into diabetic shock, or so many other life threatening injuries, and of which, if they happen, the athletic trainer is prepared for and instantly cares for. Again, not something a coach is qualified to handle.

This is fantastic for college athletes to have this standard of health care that is provided by having an athletic trainer available for them at all contests and practices. Why is it that we don’t provide the same for our youth athletes?

Less than 42% of high school athletes have access to an athletic trainer, and almost no youth leagues have one to cover their contests. Youth athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to injury, but yet no steps have been taken to help ensure their safety. There is currently a petition, actually a second petition because the first failed to get enough support, that is currently trying to change this. It takes less than a minute to register and sign, and you will not get repeated emails from them if you do register. Please, take a minute, and sign. The child’s life that you help save, may be your own.

Ensure all youth athletes have proper medical care.  **(petition failed)

March is National Athletic Training Month: Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer

Posted in #AT4All, #AT4EveryBody, #ATsPrepareNY, #NATM2013, #NATM2015, #NYNATM2015, Airway Management, AT4All, Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Athletics, ATsPrepareNY, concussion, Cycling, education, Emergency, Emergency Medical Training, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, Injury, Injury Prevention, Medical, National Athletic Training Month, NATM, NATM2015, NYNATM2015, Prevention, Race, Running, Running Injury, Sports, Sports Medicine, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Athletic Trainer’s View on Electrolytes

NATM_2013_2blueWe see advertisements for sports drinks all over the media. Everywhere we go there is Gatorade and/or Powerade. All sorts of studies have been done showing us the benefits of electrolytes, unfortunately, most of them by Gatorade or researchers sponsored by them. But, independent research has shown them to be important as well. But, are supplements of them really needed?

As an athletic trainer and an athlete, I, like most people have formed my own opinions of them, and share them with my athletes, friends, and family. I’m a firm believer that for most people and most athletes that we can get most of what we need through proper diet, and that includes electrolytes. Now, it may take careful consideration about what we eat at times to make sure we are getting everything that we need, but it can be done, and done relatively easy. There are many websites out there that can help you find the foods you need to make sure that you get not just your electrolytes, but all essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Unfortunately I know with our modern lifestyle our diets sometimes are sacrificed for time and convenience. And, with endurance events, tournaments, double practices, etc, it can be almost impossible to get what we need from natural food sources and so we have to look elsewhere. When it comes to electrolytes and hydration, most people I know turn to either Gatorade or Powerade, both of which I recommend to my athletes and friends to stay away from.

Both Gatorade and Powerade have tons of sugar, and only two electrolytes: sodium and potassium. Most people don’t need all of the sugar (as much as there is in soda) and get plenty of sodium which is found in all processed foods. Potassium they may not get enough, but sodium for most people is not much of an issue except in very prolonged activity. Powerade does at least have a version, Ion, that has the other necessary electrolytes: calcium, magnesium, and chloride, but it still has a lot of sugar.

As an athlete (ultramarthon, Ironman triathlon, etc) I use and recommend several different products, but only on very long, 5+ hours, training runs and rides, and races. All of which have all of the electrolytes needed for proper muscle functioning. Thermolytes, endurolytes, and, recently, saltstick, all of which are capsules, and easy to carry and take with just water while on the run, bike, etc. When I want something with a little flavor I switch to Nuun, or to add a little sugar I’ll go with HEED. I pretty much always carry a bottle of electrolyte capsules and a container of Nuun in all of my gear bags. The downside is that you can only find them in running, or cycling stores or online. Not something you can get at local grocery store.

With my athletes I use only Elete. It is virtually tasteless and very simple to add into a big water cooler. No mess, no clean up, no sugar, doesn’t spoil, and it is loaded with electrolytes. I only use it with practices and games on very hot days, where the athletes are going to be out in the heat for extended time at high intensity. They will also have plain ice water available, and are monitored to make sure that they drink it as well. Any other time it is just water for them. The water coolers it is used in require no additional cleanup afterwards, other than what is normally done when they are filled with plain water. It is about as simple a product as you can find to use, and is all natural.

Even though I use, and let my athletes use electrolytes, I make sure that it isn’t overdone. Just like anything else, too much of it isn’t good for you. I educate my coaches and athletes both on getting the electrolytes through natural sources. We only use them, when there may be a need to supplement, and make sure at those times that they get plenty of plain water as well. Electrolytes are important, but use supplements only when needed.

*** On a side note, our country’s youth athletes need your help. Please help ensure that they have the proper emergency medical help that they need to stay safe**(petition failed)

March is National Athletic Training Month: Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer

Posted in #AT4EveryBody, #NATM2013, Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Cycling, dehydration, education, electrolytes, Emergency, Emergency Medical Training, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, Food, Healthy, hydration, Injury, Injury Prevention, Medical, National Athletic Training Month, NATM, Nutrition, Nutritious, Prevention, Race, Running, Sports, Sports Medicine, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Athletic Trainer’s Tip: Avoid Injury And Drink Up

NATM_2013_2blueI see it happen all too often, athletes cramping on cool days, getting light headed or dizzy or developing headaches with no apparent reason (no hits to head, etc). I see it with my athletes at work. I see it in family and friends and I see it at races, and all too often it boils down to dehydration. It’s like no one drinks water anymore. I know everyone seems to carry a water bottle, but they don’t seem to use it often enough.

It’s not just my opinion either. A study done at Indiana State University a couple of years ago basically said the same thing, but only about athletes.  They found that 80% of NCAA division I football players and 50% of NFL players were dehydrated at their preseason physicals. This wasn’t after practice this was just on a normal day. These are high level, highly trained athletes and the majority of them were dehydrated BEFORE they ever set foot on the field. They did look at a couple of other sports, and though the percentages were lower, there still were athletes beginning practice already dehydrated.

As an athletic trainer this scares me. It takes about 2% loss of body weight due to dehydration to significantly affect performance. It can affect speed, strength, endurance, reaction time, cognitive functioning, temperature regulation, and more. Chance of injury increase tremendously because coordination is down, judgment is off, and body temperatures can rise unchecked. The worst part of it is that is such an easily avoidable problem. You just need to drink more water, more often.

There are many studies out there that tell you how much you should be drinking. Unfortunately, too many of them are done by the companies that try to sell us hydration drinks and it can be hard to figure out which study to fully trust. One guideline I offer my athletes is drink 2 quarts of water in addition to everything else you drink on a given day and make sure that you drink at least 3-4 quarts of fluids a day, when not exercising. When exercising/in season, I tell them to add another 1-2 quarts a day, and maybe more on really hot days (plus drink about 1 cup/8oz for every 20-30 minutes of activity). If you go more than 2 hours during the day without needing to urinate, you may not be getting enough water, and urine, except first thing in morning, and possibly after taking vitamins or eating certain foods, should be fairly clear and mild to no odor (I also recommend that if that for every 1Lbs they lose during a workout to drink about 24oz after).

Making sure that you are properly hydrated on a daily basis not only decreases your chance of injury, but it also helps you with your day to day life and improves your health. So, drink up!

Help ensure that youth athletes have the proper emergency medical care that they need and deserve!  **(petition failed)

March is National Athletic Training Month: Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer

Posted in #AT4All, #AT4EveryBody, #ATsPrepareNY, #NATM2013, #NATM2015, #NYNATM2015, AT4All, Athlete, Athletic Trainer, Athletic Training, Athletics, ATsPrepareNY, Cycling, dehydration, education, Emergency, Every Body Needs An Athletic Trainer, Healthy, hydration, Injury, Injury Prevention, Medical, National Athletic Training Month, NATM, NATM2015, NYNATM2015, Prevention, Running, Running Injury, Sports Medicine, Swimming, Training, Triathlon, Youth Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment