Monday, April 3, 2017

5 Simple Strategies to Get Rid of Cramps on Game Day

After pouring countless hours into your game day preparation, it can be incredibly frustrating (and a little embarrassing) to limp off the field with a case of the cramps. Usually, cramps are a signal that your body is not ready for the increased stress and exertion of an actual head-to-head competition. If your coach is particularly hot-headed, they may “encourage” you to rest by sitting on the bench for the duration of the game!

Thankfully, there are a few easy alterations that can be made to an athlete’s routine that can significantly decrease the likelihood of cramping. In addition to eliminating cramps, these small changes should improve your overall well-being and boost your performance on the field too!

To help you transition seamlessly from a practice scrimmage to a heated rivalry game, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will keep you from missing any in-game action. Read on to discover a few simple ways to preempt debilitating cramps and recover from muscle spasms.

Understand the Importance of Food
You are what you eat. That phrase is a common cliché, but food is truly one of the most vital factors in sustaining performance. If you’re constantly cramping on game day, the cure might be a simple switch up of your pre-game diet. While fatty and sugary foods are delicious, you need to be giving your body the right nutrients that can be metabolized into fuel.

What kind of food should you choose? Ideally, your pre-workout meal should consist of an assortment of items that are high in sodium, potassium, calcium and carbs. Whenever your body sweats, salt is secreted from your glands and it needs to be replenished. In order to ensure a healthy supply of sodium on game day, try sipping on a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) or eating some lightly salted nuts.

For potassium, try eating foods like bananas, yogurt, broccoli and legumes. Most diets don’t naturally provide sufficient levels of potassium, so it’s important to go out of your way to achieve the required intake. Potassium works alongside sodium to reduce muscle spasms and to ensure that your muscles are receiving the correct signals from your brain.

When eating, you should also keep the two “C”s in mind (calcium and carbs). While most weight-watching diets suggest that you limit your carb intake, it’s important that you carbo load before physical exertion. By eating grain based foods like bread, oatmeal or pancakes, you can create a healthy store of energy that your body can use as fuel. Calcium, like potassium, is an electrolyte that your muscles need to perform at their peak. To ensure adequate levels of calcium, try to eat a small serving of a dairy product like yogurt, milk or cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can also get calcium from eating fish, greens and seeds.

Take Vitamin Supplements
If altering your diet isn’t enough, try adding a few vitamin supplements to your daily routine to get rid of cramps. The first supplement you should consider taking is vitamin E. This vitamin fights free radicals that are a cause of cramping—specifically cramps in legs. By taking 400 units of vitamin E each day, you can effectively reduce cramping. Magnesium is the next supplement that you should be taking. It can be found naturally in nuts, figs and seeds, but you can also ingest this electrolyte in pill form.

Drink Water but Not TOO Much
The average adult requires six to eight cups of water daily, but your body will need even more if you’re playing a sport. Cramps are directly caused by dehydration, so it’s vital that you increase fluid intake before you exert yourself. If you’re just starting to drink as you hit the field, it’s already too late. To ensure that you’re adequately hydrated, begin drinking about an hour before your game and make sure that it’s 16 to 24 ounces. However, there is such a thing as overhydration. If you drink too much water, it dilutes the level of sodium in your blood stream and could cause severe muscle spasms.

Warm Up and Cool Off
Whenever you’ve been playing sports competitively for a long time, it can be easy to disregard the importance of warming up and cooling off. You’ve probably been told that it’s essential, but stretching before or after a game isn’t very glamorous. If you neglect pre-game stretches, your body will likely cramp from the shock of sudden physical exertion. It’s important to ease yourself slowly into the heightened speed of a game. Simple stretches will ensure that your range of motion will comfortably allow you to flexibly extend muscles during a workout.

Massage and Heat Therapy 
What if all of your preventative measure aren’t enough? This is where massage therapy, cold compression and heat therapy factor into the equation. The easiest way to heal spastic muscles is to gently massage the ailing areas with a foam roller. By targeting the cramps with a roller, you can relax your muscles and get back on the field. Another effective cramp alleviator is a simple heating pad. High temperatures are great for making pain disappear and should be effective within mere minutes. On the opposite end of the thermometer, ice is also a great way to relax ailing muscle groups.

With each of these five tips in mind, you can effectively prepare for your next physical activity and ensure that your muscles will perform at peak condition. By eating right, taking supplements, staying hydrated, stretching and enjoying a post-game massage, you’ll stop feebly limping off the field from muscle exhaustion.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Conventional & Alternative Medicine Can Work Together

The primary focus of medical care is to provide the most appropriate care to patients given their presenting conditions and the availability of resources at the physicians’ disposal. Modern medical practices have evolved through the years due to an increasing body of knowledge made possible through research, worldwide collaboration and information-sharing processes. Regardless of their field of specializations, many doctors are open to studying and applying treatment protocols that may be outside the standard practices of western medicine. Some of these practices may complement existing protocols while others may offer alternative treatment pathways.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

Medical professionals aim to deliver the highest quality of care to achieve the best outcomes for their patients. To this end, health pros take their oath seriously, striving for positive doctor-patient encounters for both well and ill visits. While mainstream medical practices typically define the treatment plans for all patients, there has been a steady movement toward integrating complementary and alternative medicine therapies, or CAM, with conventional practices.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 40 percent of adult patients already integrate CAM therapies as part of their lifestyle choices, and doctors are certainly paying attention to the impact of CAM practices on their patients’ health and quality of life. The integrated approach may be associated with other terms such as whole medical systems, mind-body medicine, biologically based practices, manipulative and body-based practices and energy medicine. These classifications are the from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but it must be emphasized that comparisons may not always be clear-cut as the therapies may have overlapping elements, and practices may fall under more than one category.

Overview of CAM Therapies

Mainstream medicine is evidence-based and highly regulated under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies associated with the National Institutes of Health. CAM therapies may be regulated under a different set of guidelines and monitoring agencies.

Whole Medical Systems

This category refers to a system or a collection of medical remedies and treatments focused on a specific philosophy or a belief system such as the presence of internal energy in the body or the relationship of the human body to nature.

  • Traditional or Ancient Healing Practices
    • The healing arts have been practiced in one form or another in ancient cultures. Many of these procedures are based on knowledge of anatomy and physiology coupled with insights on medicinal properties of herbs and other available materials.
  • Naturopathy
    • The practice of Naturopathy involves using noninvasive treatments to encourage the body to heal itself from trauma and symptoms of various diseases. Techniques include acupuncture, massage, exercise, ingestion of herbal remedies and lifestyle counseling.
  • Homeopathy
    • This is a system that attempts to trigger the body’s self-healing response by dosing with small amounts of natural substances known to have beneficial properties.

Mind-Body Medicine

For optimum health, it makes sense to make sure that the mind and the body are in harmony. Mind-body techniques tap the connection between these two systems to encourage relaxation and positivity that can help conventional medical therapies to be effective. These techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Art therapies
  • Other relaxation therapies

Body Manipulation Techniques

As the name suggests, human touch is used to apply pressure and manipulate a specific body part or the entire body. Targeted areas may be directly affected by a disorder, or that area may be connected to a body system affected by ill health. These techniques include:

  • Massage
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Osteopathic manipulation

Practices Based on Natural Supplementation

Western medicine has borrowed and adopted many medical remedies from traditional eastern practices. These are remedies based on natural ingredients formulated into teas, syrups, tablets or similar formats. Herbs such as ginseng, Echinacea and gingko are among the ingredients that are now part of mainstream dietary supplements.

Integrating Complementary Medicine Techniques with Conventional Practices

Conventional medicine is based on practices that have been found safe and effective through research and stringent trials and testing. These tests are typically backed by pharmaceutical companies, university or hospital-based research efforts and other corporate support. Remedies considered as complementary or alternative may lack solid research backing primarily because large and extended trials are expensive. However, many complementary practices have become part of mainstream medicine due to their popularity and the absence of any reports of harmful effects.

Some complementary practices are easily integrated into a treatment plan based on conventional medicine practices. Techniques such as meditation, massage and relaxation therapies can be integrated into your plan of care or as part of lifestyle changes for optimum health. In general, it is best to let your health care provider know about any health and lifestyle choices you have made or plan to make to limit the potential for unintended reactions. Be wary of jumping on trending alternative practices without researching first or consulting a health care professional because treatment plans are customized to individual needs and conditions.

Use of CAM techniques in conjunction with conventional medicine is widely accepted according to a study spearheaded by the National Institutes of Health. More than half of adults surveyed reported that they had included one or more CAM techniques in their treatment plans, and their physicians approved of the integrated strategy. Medical professionals support the use of some CAM practices along with evidence-based mainstream medicine because it empowers patients to take charge of their health care options.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Is Shoulder Subluxation and How Is It Treated?

What is shoulder subluxation?

Shoulder subluxation, more informally referred to as shoulder instability, occurs when the upper arm partially dislocates from the shoulder socket. Many people confuse shoulder subluxation with a shoulder dislocation, but there are a few key differences. Think of your shoulder joint like a golf ball sitting on a tee. The golf ball is the humerus and the tee is the socket, or glenoid. When the shoulder dislocates, the humerus or “ball” becomes dislocated from the shoulder socket and requires a professional to reset it. A subluxation, however, is when the humerus is partially dislocated but naturally pops back into place. It can occur during sports that involve throwing like football and baseball, and it’s usually accompanied by a weak, numb feeling as well as a sharp pain in and around the shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Subluxation

The most common cause of shoulder instability is a traumatic injury to the shoulder. This is one of the reasons why this injury is most common among boxers and football players. For non-athletes, it is usually a hard fall or accident. However, there are also people who have naturally looser ligaments in their shoulders and are more susceptible to injury. No matter the cause, many people suffer from shoulder instability and do not appropriately take care of it.


Similar to a twisted ankle, once a person suffers a dislocated shoulder the chances of it happening again are very likely. The recurrence rate in patients under 20 is 95% and 40-50% in patients 40 and over. The reason for this is that when the injury occurs, the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder socket are torn and then heal back in a stretched position. This gives the shoulder a wider range of motion as well as less stability. If not treated properly, the shoulder can continue to sublux and lead to multi-directional instability (MDI), which can be especially harmful. This is why treatment and rehab are absolutely key in preventing further injuries.

Treatment Options

The first action one should take is to ice and rest the shoulder to help with the swelling and pain, as well as taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Immobilization of the shoulder is important in helping the muscles and tendons heal. A shoulder brace of some kind, like our DonJoy Ultra Sling, will be beneficial in this regard. The brace should typically be worn for about 3-6 weeks to allow the ligaments and tendons to heal properly and to prevent re-aggravating the injury. If the shoulder does not heal and chronic pain persists, surgery may become necessary, but this is not common.


Because of the nature of the injury, it is difficult to say when one should begin rehabilitation for shoulder subluxation. On average we recommend at least 6-8 weeks after the injury before beginning rehab, but prefer up to three months to be on the safer side. After you have allowed the shoulder to rest and the pain has subsided, you will need to start strengthening the muscles in and around the shoulder socket. Begin lightly and slowly increase the weight and intensity until the shoulder begins to feel strong and secure. It may take several months until the shoulder is fully healed, so remember to take care and abstain from activates that could re-aggravate the injury such as contact sports or movements that exert extreme torque on the shoulder like tennis or golf. Proper treatment and rehabilitation will greatly reduce your chances of recurring injuries and complications. However, the shoulder will most likely never be as strong as before so remember to treat it accordingly when performing physical activities going forward.

If you are currently suffering from shoulder subluxation, we offer a fact sheet about this injury as well as a wide line of shoulder braces that can be helpful with your recovery. Leave a comment below with further questions or your own experiences dealing with shoulder subluxation!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Identifying & Treating Seasonal Depression

What Is Seasonal Depression and How Is It Treated?

Taking care of your physical body during the winter months is important, especially if you tend to become more sedentary or indulge in too many holiday treats. However, your winter behaviors aren’t the only concern. Seasonal changes can directly impact your mental and emotional health, and this, in turn, can impact your physical health in many ways.

The Winter Blues

If you find yourself feeling a little down in the dumps as the temperatures begin to drop, you’re not alone. It’s common to experience moodiness, apathy or diminished energy levels during fall and winter. Some people even develop a serious form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Making your mental health a primary concern and addressing seasonal mood changes can help you live a fuller and healthier life year-round.

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is associated with a change of seasons. It usually begins and ends at approximately the same time each year. Most people with SAD start to experience symptoms in the fall that continue through winter. Experts believe that between four and six percent of people have SAD. Another 10 to 20 percent may have a milder form of the disorder. It’s more common in women, and usually begins after the age of 20. As you age, your risk of developing SAD drops.

Symptoms of Seasonal Depression or SAD

Seasonal depression is different for each person, but it’s common to experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Feeling sad, agitated or depressed for most of the day
Low energy levels or fatigue
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Being unable to enjoy your favorite activities
Insomnia or early waking
Sleeping too much
Weight gain or loss
Appetite changes
Difficulty concentrating or remembering
Preoccupation with death or suicidal thoughts
Frequent arguments or relationship problems
Overindulging in food or alcohol
Substance abuse

What Causes Seasonal Depression?

SAD that occurs in winter is related to the reduced level of natural sunlight that accompanies the season. The reduction in sunlight can affect your body in several ways. It can disrupt melatonin production and your internal biological clock, leading to changes in your circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. A lack of sun is also believed to trigger depression by reducing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is closely linked to mood and general well-being. Chemical changes in your brain can be responsible for many depression symptoms such as insomnia or food cravings, and the resulting symptoms can themselves perpetuate the cycle and deepen depression.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Treating seasonal depression often involves an integrated approach. Lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting as much sunlight exposure as possible can sometimes resolve mild cases. If you can’t access enough natural sun to reduce your symptoms, consider light therapy; it simulates sunlight exposure using a special lamp or light box. Managing stress levels is also important; cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling may be effective in helping you cope. If conservative measures fail or your depression is severe, antidepressant medications can help correct the chemical changes caused by insufficient sunlight.

When to Seek Help

Mild seasonal depression is temporary and often tolerable, but if symptoms start to interfere with your daily life or well-being, ask your doctor about treatment options. Seek help immediately if your symptoms include suicidal thoughts, substance abuse or an inability to sleep or eat normally. With a little help from your doctor, you can stay afloat and even thrive until warmer days arrive.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What the Growing Orthopedic Industry Means for Patients and Practitioners

Over-the-counter, or OTC, orthopedic devices have long been recognized as an irreplaceable segment of the modern medical device market. With 2011 reports estimating that more than two percent of all osteoarthritis patients chose orthopedic surgery, devices like braces continue growing in popularity.1 For patients, therapists, physicians and other caregivers, increased awareness of the benefits of OTC orthopedics and rising product availability could translate to improved treatment practices and better long-term outcomes.

Where Are Trends Headed?

In October 2016, economic observers predicted that the OTC orthopedic braces market would grow by 4.8 percent annually until attaining a total value of $1.33 billion in 2021.2 Globally, regions like North America and Europe were key players in the field in 2016, but demand in Asia and elsewhere is also expected to grow.

Why Are OTC Orthopedics in Demand?

What’s driving the expansion? There are a few key factors:

Increased Patient Knowledge

Some assessments pin braces’ burgeoning popularity on an expanding middle class that's more familiar with the advantages of the technology. Compared to alternatives like invasive procedures and pharmaceutical regimens, braces could seem like attractive options due to their low cost and ease of use.

Aging Populations

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, less than 15 percent of the national population was 65 or older in 2014.3 By 2040, that number is projected to exceed 21 percent. These groups are at higher risk of falls, broken bones, sprains and other health troubles that might be less challenging with orthopedic braces.

It’s also worth noting that Medicare Part B covers many leg, neck and back braces as long as they’re medically necessary.4 As a result, they may be more viable treatment options for those who can’t afford other forms of health coverage.

Mounting Necessity

The number of road accident and sporting injury victims is growing. Experts believe that these incidents contribute to a higher demand for orthopedic supports that can be used to strengthen muscles and joints during the rehabilitation period.5 With ligament injuries being some of the most common injuries across all sports, braces play a major role in helping participants heal effectively.

Superior Manufacturing and Distribution

Technologies and business models are also improving. Along with lowering product prices, new developments in materials science and novel fabrication methods are leading to increased comfort and reducing the size of formerly bulky devices. In 2014, market analysts also identified a rise in the number of braces manufacturers that outsourced precision fabrication services.6 Coupled with supplier consolidation, these factors contribute significantly towards the above-market growth exhibited by many orthopedic sectors.

What Does the Expansion of the Braces Market Mean for You?

Caregivers Can Heighten Service Quality

For doctors and physical therapists, a more robust braces market is a good thing. Manufacturers that want to capitalize are likely to offer more competitive pricing and new design innovations that let physicians provide their clients with a broader range of accessible treatment options. Practitioners with problematic patients may also have an easier time persuading these individuals to adhere to their treatment regimens if they involve the use of braces and orthopedics that seem minimally life-altering.

More Options for Patients and Users

Patients stand to benefit from greater access to orthopedic products and knowledge. Although most people are already familiar with devices like leg and arm orthopedics, there are a huge variety of similar options for other parts of the body. For instance, the University of Maryland Medical Center acknowledges more than 30 types of braces for spine disorders alone.[7]

As manufacturers develop new technologies and optimize orthopedic designs, they’ll also market them to caregivers and publish information about their use in trade journals. Your primary physician may soon benefit from more comprehensive knowledge about different kinds of braces and be able to recommend a better option for your recovery. If you’re on Medicare or a private health insurance plan, your particular orthopedics are more likely to be covered if your doctor is able to justify your need, so their growing expertise definitely works to your advantage.

A Bright Future for OTC Orthopedics

The proliferation of OTC braces holds great promise for all. By letting more people take charge of maintaining their health, orthopedic devices stand to offer significant care improvements and help their users live more enjoyable lives. To see where this exciting industry is going next and to find the orthopedic brace that works for you, 
visit MMAR Medical today.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to Avoid Winter Sports Injuries

The yearly arrival of snow gives people the opportunity to participate in winter sports of all kinds. While thrilling, snow-based activities also come with the possibility of sustaining an injury. For instance, every year, winter sports enthusiasts suffer from back, knee and even thumb injuries. Don’t join them. A little caution and a few prevention tips can help you avoid a ski injury or snowboard injury that can keep you from enjoying the rest of the season. Here are a few of the best ways to stay safe.

Check the Weather

Before hitting the ski slopes, check the weather report. If a major storm is on the horizon, consider staying home or participating in an indoor activity. If you’re already enjoying a winter sport when a storm arrives, head to the lodge or your car as soon as possible.

Despite the wintry weather, be sure to wear sunscreen. Whenever you spend time outdoors, you are exposed to UV rays. Apply a 30 SPF sunscreen to all exposed skin to avoid a sunburn.

Wear a Helmet

If you intend to ski or snowboard, then be sure to wear a helmet that fits your head properly. Also, if you wear a knit cap to keep your head warm when you’re spending time outdoors in the winter, make sure that your helmet fits securely with the knit cap in place. It’s common to suffer from falls when enjoying winter activities. If you do, be sure to replace your helmet the next time you hit the slopes.

Take Lessons from a Professional

If you’re a winter sports novice, be sure to take lessons from an expert. Allow them to teach you the basics. Professional guidance is worth the investment because you will learn the right technique from the get-go. An expert will also make sure that you have the right equipment to participate in winter sports safely. Begin slowly and be patient with yourself.

Assess your limitations, and make sure that your children know theirs as well. If you let your young children play outside on snow or ice, supervise them closely. When it comes to playing in the snow on snowmobiles or ATVs, do not allow children who are six years old or younger to ride on them. In addition, those who drive these vehicles should be 16 years old or older.

Use Quality Sports Equipment

From snowshoeing to ice-skating, winter sports require equipment. Make sure that yours is top-notch. High-quality equipment that is in good condition will help you stay safe. Accidents happen on the slopes when ski bindings or poles break. A loose blade on your ice skate or a damaged ski can also cause winter sports accidents to occur, so be sure to maintain your equipment regularly.

Prepare Your Body with Conditioning

If your body is out of shape, then you’ll be more accident-prone when you participate in winter sports. Throughout the year, keep your core strong with abdominal and spine exercises. When your core is strong, it will help you stay balanced and stable. Be sure to warm up your body before you start a winter sport. If your muscles, ligaments or tendons are cold, then an injury is more likely.

You can also wear sport braces, mouth guards and compression socks when you head out to play in the snow. 
Winter sports medical support equipment like braces add stability to your ankles and knees while mouth guards protect your teeth and jaw. Compression socks can also improve your athletic performance by increasing the flow of oxygen to your bloodstream and by improving blood flow to and from the muscles in your legs.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Take note of danger signs while on the mountain.

If you like to participate in popular winter sports like snowboarding, downhill skiing and ice skating, be sure to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid injury. Often, people are hurt by colliding with each other. Winter activities that take place on the ski slopes put you at risk of striking a tree, slope indicators or even a resort lift.

Plan for a fall by considering how you’ll do it if it happens. For instance, if you feel yourself falling, attempt to roll into it naturally, and shift your head in the direction that you’re falling. This step could decrease the severity of an injury. It could even help you avoid being hurt all together.

If you hit your head, visit your doctor to make sure that you’re not suffering from a concussion or other dangerous head injury. Slight soreness and mild pain can be managed with heat or ice. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication.

Protect Your Health from Winter Sports Injuries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission confirms that more than 290,000 people visited the hospital for winter sports-related injuries in 2014. Stay out of the hospital by maintaining your strength, sports equipment and skill level. If you do, you’ll be healthy enough to participate in your favorite winter sports throughout the season.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Psychology Behind Group Workouts

During our lives, most of us take part in many activities in a group setting. We attend school and classes as a group. We join bowling leagues or soccer teams. Many of us are members of various organizations. Those who attend church services are part of a congregation. There are several other groups that one might join during their lifetime and most people enjoy this interaction with others. 

When joining an exercise program, a client usually has a choice to take part in group classes or one-on-one private classes. Trying to choose which option would be the best fit is often a difficult decision. However, with the high cost of working with a private trainer, the majority feel that exercising with a group will give them an adequate workout. A number of studies have shown that in the end, taking part in a group exercise class has the most beneficial results.

The Beginnings of Group Exercise

Zumba workouts have risen in popularity over the last decade.
Group exercise classes became popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It was during this time that Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda introduced the aerobic workout to the public. Various types of workouts became popular, including Jazzercise, bicycling and Spinning. In the 1990s, group classes included Body Pump and Tae Bo classes. Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes became a favorite of many. Boot camps and CrossFit classes followed these. Today, with the variety of classes available, most people will find a class that is perfect for them. 

Why is Group Exercise a Good Choice?

What makes group exercise classes the best choice for most people? There are several factors. One immediate benefit is that the cost is usually much less than one-on-one training. Those who cannot afford private classes can still take part in the group classes and reap the benefits of doing so.

Most people have been told that exercise is necessary to remain healthy but do not know where to start. Joining an exercise group gives a person a choice of classes and levels. Becoming a member of a class helps one overcome their reluctance to taking that first step.

Benefits of Group Exercise Classes

Taking part in an exercise class provides those in the class an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Moreover, a group class challenges one to work harder than if they were exercising at home alone. Everyone is working towards the same goal, and the trainer will push everyone to do his or her best. Studies have shown that when working out in a group, people tend to push themselves harder than when they are exercising alone. This may result in them burning more calories as well as increasing their endurance and strength beyond their perceived limitations. Those in a class motivate each other to stay on track to reach their goals and to keep one another accountable.

Besides the physiological benefits of group exercise, there are psychological benefits as well. Exercising is one of several activities that stimulate the release of endorphins. These chemicals interact with receptors in the brain that block pain and produce a euphoric, happy feeling. Often, doctors recommend group exercise for their patients diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Exercise, which most people enjoy, is also a great stress-buster.

Working out in a group can be physically and psychologically beneficial.
Studies have shown that whether it is a game of soccer, a run with a friend or an exercise class, most people perform better when paired up with others. It may be due to the inspiration or competition found in a group, but no one wants to let a team member down. In many cases, they perform even better on the task than they believed they could.

Everyone is aware of the value of exercise, and taking classes as part of a group may be the way to go. This manner of exercising has many physiological as well as psychological benefits. For most exercise classes, the only equipment one needs to bring to class is themselves. Today, exercising is more important than ever, and there is no good excuse not to try it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Could Better Footwear, Insoles Be the Solution to Football’s Lisfranc Injury Problem?

With college football officially underway and the NFL regular season starting soon after, player safety will be at the forefront of the discussion. While the devastating consequences of concussions will surely hog the spotlight, lower body injuries can be just as debilitating and are statistically much more prevalent, accounting for 50.4% of all player injuries, according to the NCAA. Lisfranc fractures make up a small proportion of these lower body injuries, but Lisfranc’s impact on college and professional football is immense.

What is a Lisfranc Injury?

A Lisfranc fracture is a dislocation of the joint connecting the midfoot and the forefoot caused by trauma or sudden twisting. The cause of a Lisfranc injury can be categorized in one of two groups—direct or indirect. The severing of the Lisfranc joint through trauma delivered by an outside force is considered a direct injury. For example, this could occur when a lineman accidently stomps on another player’s midfoot. Indirect Lisfranc fractures, however, are caused by the sudden twisting or rotation of a foot. This typically happens when a player’s foot gets planted forcibly and unnaturally while changing direction on turf. After sustaining the fracture, pain in the midfoot is immense and the vast majority of athletes are unable to finish the game, let alone the season. Depending on the severity, a Lisfranc fracture can even require surgery to realign the dislocated bones and could be a career killer.       

Lisfranc Injury on the Field

Offensive linemen are typically the most likely to sustain a Lisfranc injury, but college and NFL players in many other positions have suffered from the fracture as well. Jake Locker, Ben Roethlisberger, Dion Lewis, Brandon Marshall and Le’Veon Bell are just a few examples of skill position players that have struggled with the injury in recent years. Locker, a former first-round draft pick, was ultimately unable to return to form after his injury and retired early at the age of 26.

One of the most successful signal callers in the game, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, is returning after being sidelined for an entire season by an indirect Lisfranc fracture he suffered while cutting up field against Nebraska. Just a year removed from a different season-ending injury to his knee, Hill fought through the pain of the Lisfranc fracture and played the majority of the game before finally bowing out. Following the game, he had screws surgically implanted in his midfoot to reconnect the joints and began an arduous 11-month rehabilitation process.

Are Cleats to Blame? 

Many athletic trainers and podiatrists are pointing their fingers at lightweight, minimalist cleats as the menace behind the increase in Lisfranc injury on the football field. The major athletic shoe brands (Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, etc.) have moved toward technology that emphasizes flexibility and arch support has greatly suffered as a result. This flexibility can allegedly lead to the indirect Lisfranc fractures sustained when changing direction.

In order to begin rectifying this issue, Nike partnered with Taysom Hill in the offseason to create a custom cleat with increased arch support to avoid reinjury. With Hill returning to action this fall, Nike will be able to monitor his recovery and expand the use of the custom cleats if proven successful. In addition to new cleats with rigid arch support, Hill was given custom insoles. 

While most believe that cleats play a factor in the increased prevalence of Lisfranc, others claim it’s simply a result of players progressively getting bigger, faster and stronger. It’s the new norm for lineman to tower over competition at 6’3” and weigh upwards of 300 lbs, and players like this weren’t in the league 20 years ago. The average weight of an offensive tackle has increased by over 40 pounds since 1980. Another possible factor behind the increase in Lisfranc is the improved ability of trainers to successfully diagnose the injury. In the past, the injury was often misdiagnosed because the hurt Lisfranc joint will sometimes naturally return to its original position before it’s inspected by training staff. Increased awareness has led to midfoot injuries being inspected more closely.

The Importance of Orthotics & Footwear

Ultimately, the increasing prevalence of Lisfranc fractures highlights the importance of the correct use of orthopedic insoles and athletic footwear. Most modern cleats do not provide the essential arch support necessary to prevent foot and ankle injuries. Players should add orthotics that complement their foot styles. In addition, their shoes should be tailored for the specific position they play, the playing surface (turf or grass) and the outside temperature.

Even if you’re an amateur, consult a podiatrist concerning your personal arch support needs before you play on the gridiron this fall. Insoles like the Prothotic motion control sport insole do wonders in ensuring your feet and ankles remain healthy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Working Out When You’re Sore: The Dos & Don’ts of DOMS

Picture this: you finish a workout and the endorphins are kicking in, helping you feel great and energized. But the next day, your body is tired and you’re having trouble even lifting your arms over your head. You had planned to work out that day, but now you find yourself wondering, should I work out when I’m sore? The answer isn’t as straightforward as “yes” or “no”, but if you pay attention to the signs your body is sending you, you’ll be able to tell whether or not you should be hitting the gym.

To help you and your body stay healthy and happy, we’ve put together some general guidelines on when it is and isn’t okay to work out when it comes to muscle soreness.
What is DOMS?
To decide whether or not you should work out, you first need to focus in on the pain you’re experiencing. DOMS is short for delayed onset muscle soreness, and it’s the reaction your muscles have after an intense workout. These feelings of pain usually occur a day after you work out and can last anywhere between 24 hours to a week. These aches are a result of micro-tears in your muscles, and they can make daily activities like walking and lifting your arms suddenly become a struggle. DOMS can range in intensity from mild to severe—so severe that people sometimes struggle to walk or get out of their chairs. This is why it’s sometimes difficult to know whether you’re just sore or if you’ve actually injured yourself.

Injury vs. DOMS
Luckily, there are a few significant differences between DOMS and injury. The biggest difference is the pain level. You might convince yourself that you’re injured when getting up out of your chair is a struggle, but that’s nothing compared to the searing pain of a real injury. Your pain will come instantly and won’t decrease over time, no matter how much you stretch your limbs. Lastly, it won’t go away after a few days, but will last until you either seek medical attention or it heals on its own.

If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of a real injury, contact your doctor so they can take a look. When it comes to your body, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Should you work out?
Once you’ve realized that what you’re feeling is just intense soreness, you’ll have to decide whether or not to work out. Some doctors recommend that if you feel any soreness, you should wait until it’s completely gone to start working out again. However, recent studies have found that it’s actually better to engage your muscles when they’re feeling sore. Exercising increases oxygen flow to the muscles, and in turn can help make your muscles feel better.

You probably won’t max out in reps, but you can still get a decent workout in. To help make sure you don’t push yourself too hard, use a sleeve or other support that helps compress your muscles and prevent tearing, such as the new, innovative Body Glove Performance Knee Sleeves. Your joints will be protected and supported, allowing you to push through the soreness and rock your workout!

The most important thing out of all of this is to listen to your body. If you feel too sore to work out, then take it easy for a couple of days. If you think you could benefit from light exercise, then go for it. If you start feeling fatigued, you can always stop and try again tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Offseason: Avoiding Injuries and Staying Healthy

For some athletes, the beginning of offseason is a welcomed relaxation period to destress and unwind. And for many, offseason training begins right away. Although it is extremely important to maintain a healthy exercise regimen during this period, it is also wise to do everything you can to avoid an injury. An offseason injury can severely affect your ability to perform once your normal workouts start back up again. Many athletes get injured when they push themselves too hard, use improper techniques, do too much of the same exercise or neglect rest and recovery time. Be smart during the offseason with our tips below.

Don’t forget to work your core in the offseason. This includes your glutes, lower back and deep abdominals too. Your core is the foundation of your movement and if these areas are out of sync, the rest of your body will be as well. The core acts as the central energy transfer in your entire body, so not keeping it strong and in shape during the offseason can lead to injury and exhaustion when you return.

Focus on low-impact core exercises during the offseason to minimize joint damage.

Another helpful tip is to focus on exercises that are not a part of your usual in-season routine. If you lift heavy weights, focus on conditioning and cardio during the offseason with less emphasis on weights. If your in-season consists of mainly cardio, consider doing more strength training and lighten up on the running. This will help you train the parts of your body you don’t normally work during the season to stabilize and strengthen those areas. Also, consider moving away from the machines and using free weights and body resistance. Machines are great for exercising, but they only allow for resistance along a set path of motion. Exercises like squats, lunges and presses will lead to a greater transfer of strength.

Remember that your diet is as important as your exercise during the offseason, if not more so. Don’t continue to eat as though you are in-season and burning thousands of calories a day. It may take a while for your body to adjust to a new normal, but not doing so will lead to fat gain and over-consumption. Avoid using energy bars and sports drinks as meal replacements. These are filled with calories that are great for in-season workouts, but will be counterproductive while you’re off. With an increased amount of time on your hands, you have a perfect opportunity to practice preparing non-packaged, non-processed foods. Get into this habit early on and incorporate it into your future routine too. Mix up your diet with healthy alternatives. Try simple swaps like quinoa for brown rice, fish for chicken breast and kale for spinach.

Advance meal planning can help keep you from making unhealthy choices on the fly.

The most common injuries during this period are “overuse injuries” such as muscle strains and tendonitis. These can result from not resting and recovering after visits to the gym or from going to the gym too often. Rest is one of the best preventative techniques to avoid offseason injuries. Ask yourself if you’ve had enough recovery time between the end of your season and the beginning of your offseason workouts. This is the perfect time to allow any pains or issues you dealt with during the season to heal, so take advantage of it. As a rule of thumb, you should rest for about two weeks. Consider a brace or compression sock as well to aid in support and recovery. If your offseason is the start of a long period without weightlifting, start low and work your way up when you return to your normal routine. The combination of forgotten lifting techniques and recent body changes in the offseason may put too much strain on your body and lead to an injury. Go slow and work your way up to where you once were.

Finally, and most importantly, watch your form! You should always be cautious and use proper lifting techniques. While in offseason, athletes have a tendency to forget or become less concerned with their lifting and running form. A careless technique will almost always result in injury. Be smart, be aware and be active. Take these tips and head into your offseason with safety and confidence!