Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tips for Avoiding Skiing and Snow Boarding Injuries

Snow sports have a reputation for being notoriously injury-prone recreational activities. Fast speeds, slippery surfaces and vulnerable ligaments make for a tricky combination! That said, according to statistics on, only about 4 in one thousand people on the slopes per day will sustain an injury that requires professional medical attention. Unfortunately, some of these injuries can be quite serious and persistent. The most common slope injuries include head injury, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, spinal injuries, as well as thumb and wrist injuries. Treatments vary from something as simple as RICE (rest, ice, compress and elevate), to more significant approaches such as surgery, lifelong medical ligament bracing and even hospitalization. For this reason, it is important to take steps to prevent injury so that you can fully enjoy your time on the slopes.

1. Use equipment professionally adjusted to your physique. If you own your equipment, have it checked regularly - at least once a season - by a professional. Never borrow gear from a friend as this increases the likelihood of an accident by an incredible 800%. If you rent, make sure you have a professional adjust the gear to fit you perfectly. When they ask your ability, never overstate as this will affect your bindings and ski length significantly. It is better to skew gear adjustments towards beginner than to a more advanced stage. Likewise, boots should fit snug against the ankle… too loose and your ankle can twist or worse.
2. Equip your children with safety gear. When it comes to snow sports, children are at particularly high risk of injury. After all, kids lack the muscle control and personal judgment that comes with experience. They can make reckless decisions or simply struggle with manual dexterity. Approximately 35% of all snow sport injuries involve children and for this reason, it is critical that children wear helmets when they are participating in skiing or snowboarding. While harder to find, children’s wrist guards are extremely helpful as well, particularly with snowboarding.
3. Wear safety gear and braces. Kids are not the only snow bunnies at risk of injury. Consider wearing a protective helmet and wrist guards at all times. If you have a lingering injury, such as a torn ligament, equip the compromised joint with a supportive hinged knee brace.
4. Professional instruction is worth the investment. Beginner skiers are also at higher risk of injury so it is worth investing is some professional instruction. A few classes will help beginners develop good (i.e. safe) habits and techniques. Be forewarned, though. Instruction can also lead to a bit of overconfidence. Be careful not to push yourself beyond your comfort and ability.
5. Always warm up before hitting the slopes. Before your first run, take a few minutes to gently stretch out your legs, especially your hamstrings, quads, and hips. Hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds. Each stretch should feel pleasantly firm but not painful. After you stretch, suit up in your safety gear, including any medical braces for previous injuries, then start your day on the mountain with a few lighter runs to get your blood flowing.
6. Take regular breaks throughout the day. Snow sports are so much fun it is easy to lose track of time. Between the fun and the adrenalin, it is difficult to feel how tired by muscles might be. Many avid skiers and snowboarders will keep active all day, not fully registering just how tired their body is. A fatigued body is more susceptible to injury and that is why most adult injuries occur after lunchtime, when our bodies are exhausted. Regular breaks will allow you to rest, and recover.
7. Don’t ski alone. As with any outdoor activity, it is best not to go alone. You may fall and become incapacitated. Always have a partner and ensure that you keep within sight of each other just in case trouble arises.
8. Stay on marked trails. Do not stray off marked slopes or paths as you may encounter exposed rocks, vegetation, steep slopes, avalanche areas or even dangerous cliffs.
9. Be familiar with the weather conditions. Always research the weather conditions before hitting the slopes. Not only should you avoid extreme weather such as blizzards, but consider foregoing icy conditions, extremely deep powder snow, and wet snow as these environments enhance the likelihood for injury.
10. Know your limitations. It may be tempting – especially if you ski or board with more experienced friends - but do not attempt slopes or speeds beyond your ability.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premier supplier of high quality medical orthopedic braces and supports, including ACL braces, patella stabilizers, hinged knee braces and OA knee braces. To find quality medical shoulder, knee, back braces and more, please visit MMAR Medical online.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winter Weather Joint & Brace FAQs

Can you wear a medical brace out in the snow?

Are your support braces water proof or water resistant?

Will I require more support when my joints are cold?

With winter weather upon us, it’s important to take some time to get the answers to your questions on how seasonal changes affect your health and how you use your braces during chillier months.

Does arthritis get worse in cold weather?

  • Despite conflicting reports and anecdotal evidence from arthritis sufferers, medical evidence does not conclusively support the idea that arthritis worsens in cold weather. That said, when atmospheric pressure drops during a cold front, the tissues in your joints may react by expanding with the decrease in pressure. This change may put additional pressure on the joints resulting in pain and the stiff feeling in joints.

  • Other medical studies suggest that commonly during the darker, colder winter season, moods and pain thresholds drop; therefore, people may ‘feel’ the pain more so than during ‘happier’ months.

  • Another key to why joint pain spikes during winter? People are less likely to exercise during the winter months, and physical movement is key to healthily managing arthritis.

Winter solution: Be sure to continue your exercise regimen during the cold months. Not only will exercise improve overall joint function but it is also a tremendous mood booster. Likewise, continue using your arthritic gloves or arthritis knee brace just as you would during warmer months. Be sure to bundle up and keep your body warm to avoid tissue expansion in the joints and additional arthritic pain.

I want to ski and snow board! What knee brace can I use for support?

  • If you’re thinking about skiing or snowboarding this season, make sure your orthopedic doctor has given you the go ahead to exercise.

  • A quality knee brace will provide support and aid in injury prevention without limiting mobility, look for a brace made out of neoprene - the same material used in wet suits - which is designed to handle intense moisture as well as protect the skin against the cold.

  • If you need more than just the light support of a neoprene brace, a hinged knee brace provides support for post-op knee patients who wish to continue vigorous physical activity.

Winter solution: You do not need to worry about water proofing neoprene to protect it from the snow. For other types of braces, wear water resistant pants on top of the brace to prevent water from weathering it or voiding warranties.

What is the difference between waterproof and water resistant products?

Waterproof: Waterproof indicates that water will not enter, leave or damage the item under any circumstances; the item is impervious to water.
Water resistant: Water resistant materials resist water though cannot completely prevent water from passing through the material. Typically, water resistant items can repel water up to a certain degree based on amount of time saturated with water but under certain circumstances, would eventually be permeated by the water.

Winter solutions: Look for medical support braces that are water resistant as your brace may be exposed to increased moisture from snowfall. You can always wear a water resistant pant or waterproof slip over the brace as an additional precaution.

Is there any way to add water resistant protection to a brace I already own?

Yes, there are a number of water resistant sprays that you can easily apply to your brace. Some of these sprays may affect warranties, so be sure to review your brace's warranty prior to apply any third party solvents.

I am worried about slipping on the ice and injuring myself further. What can I do?

  • Prior to the winter ice and snow, make sure your high traffic areas outside have hand rails you can use for support when walking.

  • Look for shoes that have substantial traction on the bottom to give additional support when walking on icy grounds.

  • Be sure to shovel snow and ice away so that you have an accessible and safe walking route.

About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of braces and supports. From top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of arthritis knee braces, MMAR Medical has bracing and support solutions for everyone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exercise for Mature Adults

No matter your age, exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy heart and bone mass. Experts recommend that all adults exercise at least 2.5 hours a week, but 5 hours a week for maximum health benefits. If you’re suffering an injury, consult a professional before beginning an exercise program and always, only exercise to the extent that your condition or physical state allows. Remember not to overexert yourself at the beginning – it will only cause injuries and delay progress.

As you age, external and internal challenges may prevent you from engaging in certain exercises – discomfort, disability, fear of injury or fatigue may come into play. Overcome these anxieties by knowing that exercise and strength training need not be intense and will actually help increase your balance and bone strength which in turn protects you from injuries and boosts energy levels. It’s one of life’s rare win-win-wins.

For maximum health benefits, it is optimal to engage in moderate exercise throughout your life, not just when you age, but of course it is never too late to start. Doctors note that bone loss and loss of flexibility begin as early as your 30s; therefore, it’s never too early to think about how exercise will aid you as you age. This guide reviews the major components of an elderly exercise plan: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, balance and flexibility work, and rest.

  • Cardiovascular Exercise: With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular exercise undoubtedly holds extreme importance. Depending on your current endurance level, incorporate a goal of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day. You can start with 5 or 10 minute sessions and work your way up to 30 minutes; it’s more important that you get in the habit of working out your heart and exercise at a level appropriate for your condition rather than hit 30 minute work outs.

    • Brisk Walking: low impact, can be done anywhere! Ask a spouse, family member, friend or neighbor to join you in your endurance exercises – it creates accountability for you to continue with the program

    • Swimming: even more low impact than walking! Join a gym and try out a water aerobics class or simply grab some flippers and create your own swimming workout..

    • Stationary Bike: takes the weight off the knees! Stationary bikes give a great alternative for those with weak knees who also want back support. You don’t have to worry about balancing on a stationary bike; therefore, they are a safer idea for the elder exercising

    • Dancing: fun and a good heart work out! Many elders enjoy dancing and it’s an excellent form of exercise as well as a social outlet.

  • Strength Training: Often overlooked as an important part to an exercise program for older adults, strength training is beneficial to an adult exerciser. Sick of wearing your back braces? Strength training helps combat osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and back pain, among other ailments. With falls as the leading cause of injury related death in adults over 65, strength training helps develop the muscles to balance and avoid potentially fatal falls.

    • Squats: Use a stable chair for this exercise. Begin seated, with your hands on your hips. Push with your legs as you rise to stand from the chair. Repeat 10 – 12 times. You can modify this for additional balance stabilization or support by placing the chair in front of a counter, or other stable and strong surface, and using the counter to balance as you hoist yourself upright. This works the legs, hip flexors and balance.

    • Bicep Curls: In a seated or upright standing position, hold a weight in both extended hands with your palms facing up. Curl in your arms toward your chest. Squeeze as you curl your arms in and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly release and uncurl. Repeat 10 – 12 times. This works your arms.

    • Shoulder Shrugs: Stand upright and hold a light weight in each of your hands (try a can of soup to start). Shrug your shoulders to your ears, and then lower to normal. You can modify by adding more weight. Repeat 10 – 12 times. Shoulder shrugs work your back, shoulders and balance.

    • Toe Raises: Stand upright in front of a counter or chair (to use for balance). Slowly raise up on your toes, off your heels. Stand on the balls of your feet for 5 seconds, then lower. Repeat 10 – 12 times. It can be modified if you’re using an ankle brace or other support braces. This works ankles and balance

    • Wall Pushups: Face a wall, standing about an arm’s length away. Have your feet planted shoulder-width apart and firmly on the ground. Lean forward as you place your palms on the wall and bend your elbows, completing the push up. Pause in the push up position for a few seconds, and then extend your arms. Repeat 10-12 times. These work your arms, back and balance.

    • Modified V Ups: Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly and carefully raise your knees and swing your arms around your shins to “hug” them in. Next, (provided your ability) drop both knees slowly to the right. Raise them back to the middle and switch, dropping them to the left. Work to 10-12 repetitions. This works your abdomen, back and hip flexors.

  • Balance and Flexibility: Working on balance and flexibility develops the muscles and strength to prevent dangerous falls in the elderly.

    • Flamingo Stands: Stand in front of a stable support, like a doorway or counter. Shift all your weight to your right foot and on your right foot alone. Alternate legs.

    • Heel-Toe Walk: Walk slowly and carefully, placing the heel of one foot on the ground directly in front of the toes of another foot. For increased modification, walk heel-toe backwards.

    • Knee Marching: Stand by a counter to use for support if you get wobbly during the knee marches. Raise one knee as high as you comfortably can and tap it with the alternating hand. Lower that knee and then alternate knees.

  • Rest and Recover: Listening to your body and taking time to rest is important at any age, but especially when exercising as an older adult. Don’t overexert yourself, but recognize that exercise is vital to keeping you healthy and strong as you age..

    • If you are feeling mild pain or inflammation in your joints, try a cold therapy system. Cold therapy helps alleviate swelling and mild pain, but avoid cold therapy if you have stiff joints or arthritis. For arthritis sufferers, use a moist heat pad to provide temporary pain relief.

    • For sore and aching muscles, rest and elevate your limbs. Remember that a mild amount of soreness is normal when first resuming an exercise regimen; however, also ensure you pay attention to your body’s warning signs.

    • If you have weak knees or back, talk to a doctor or physician about getting medical support braces or back braces to use when exercising.

It’s never too late to begin an exercise program, so jump in and get closer to a stronger, more balanced and healthier life!

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of carpal tunnel braces and complimentary rehabilitative cold therapy units. Based in Houston Texas, MMAR also carries a back brace and unloader knee brace selection.