Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Compression Sportswear:
Improved Performance and Protection for All Athletes

In recent years, astute sports fans have noticed a trend in athletic wear while watching recreational, college, and even professional sporting events: the use of formfitting, spandex-like garments such as shorts, tights, sleeves, and socks worn with or underneath typical sportswear. Whether beneath a soccer player's shorts, under a female tennis player's skirt, as a basketball player's sleeve, or as a more supportive sock for runners, compression sportswear is a phenomenon that's here to stay.

There's a fundamental reason why compression sportswear isn't just a fad: it provides athletes clear benefits that improve their athletic performance.

Advantages of Compression Sportswear
The primary benefit to wearing compression sportswear is that it keeps the most utilized muscles of a given athlete warm, which prevents both strain and fatigue. Meanwhile, compression shorts, sleeves, socks, or any similar item wraps muscles in a way that decreases movement and promotes focused support. This results in an increased sense of proprioception. Athletes using compression clothing experience less muscle soreness, weakness, and stiffness.

Another enormous benefit is that such garments keep sweat from pooling and dripping directly on athletes' bodies. This prevents chafing and rashes, while allowing the body to regulate its temperature naturally. No matter how intense the workout, the athlete remains dry and functions at his or her optimal temperature.

There's also evidence that compression sportswear improves blood circulation. More oxygen in the blood results in increased strength during a workout and less soreness afterward. And, of course, this reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis, and improves vein and artery health more generally.

While most athletes are vaguely aware of these advantages before first using compression clothing, they always feel the results in terms of increased performance and improved athletic health after regularly using it. However, the reason why many runners, cyclists, tennis, basketball, and baseball players initially purchase such items is because compression gear holds undergarments and other equipment nicely in place. Some male athletes use compression shorts in lieu of jockstraps, and many women use such shorts or tights under skirts to prevent exposure of their underwear. Lastly, some compression sportswear has extra padding built in that is ideal in sports where the athlete may frequently make contact with the ground, such as in baseball and tennis.

Overall, users of compression clothing in sports experience increased athletic performance that allows them to run faster and longer, jump higher, and have improved muscle memory, all while decreasing the risk of sports injuries.

Types of Compression Sportswear
While many types of compression clothing for sports now exist and the technology is rapidly advancing, there are several specific garments that are the most widely used by athletes at all levels.

Compression socks have become a favorite of professional and recreational runners alike. Outdoor runners find that the socks decrease the negative impact that muscle vibration causes. Also, runners' legs and feet feel more supported with compression socks.

Anybody who watches NBA basketball have noticed that many players now wear compression sleeves on their shooting arm. It keeps the arm warm and ready to shoot, improving their strength, accuracy, and muscle memory. These advantages are present in other sports that make prominent use of arms as well.

As for compression shorts, they without question are beneficial to cyclists, runners, baseball players, tennis players, and all kinds of other athletes. They cover and support a sensitive region of the body that needs strong blood flow and protection. The comfort that compression shorts provides is reason enough for most athletes to give them a try.

While many trends in athletics that promise to improve performance are unsupported by research, this is not the case with compression sportswear. Such garments now have a long track record of clear benefits and increased athletic performance for all types of athletes. Whether to keep muscles warm, improve blood flow, or provide increased support and protection, compression gear has numerous uses.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR medical is a supplier of medical sports therapy equipment including rehabilitative knee braces, cold therapy systems and CEP sports compression.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Is Foot Drop?

Foot drop is a simple name for a very complex problem. Typically, it is caused by an underlying condition that affects the motor nerves in the spine or legs. People with foot drop may drag their foot or feet during ambulation. Depending on the severity of the nerve involvement, the injury to the nerves may be partial or completely affected. Whether foot drop is a temporary or permanent condition, appliances and braces can smooth the transition of walking, and prevent further damage to the joint.

The Anatomy of Foot Drop
Normally, the motor nerves control the dorsiflexion of the forefoot. The muscles in the shin area pull up the foot towards the knee, and the forefoot flexes. If these nerves are damaged or compressed, the forefoot falls limp and doesn’t lift off the ground during walking. Usually in a partially affected foot, the shoes are worn at the front and side of the sole. If left untreated, foot drop can continue to worsen with permanent stiffening and further deformity of the ankle joint.

Origins or Cause
People may develop foot drop after a stroke or any condition that weakens the muscles and nerves. Back and spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis or compress nerves weaken muscles in the legs and feet. Although the reasons are not completely understood, diabetes may contribute to foot drop. Experts speculate that diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves located below the knees. Neurologic disorders, such as: muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, diminish the nerve impulses to the dorsiflexors of the feet.

Diagnosis
People who are experiencing a weakness in one or both feet should notify their healthcare providers. Foot drop is not a disease, but may be a serious indication of an underlying condition. It is paramount to seek treatment and receive a diagnosis as soon as possible, as some conditions may be reversible. Usually diagnostic tests include x-rays, CT scans, and possibly other imaging modalities.

Medical Treatment
Depending on the cause of foot drop, some conditions require surgical interventions. Decompression of the motor nerves in the back to correct a herniated disc may be indicated. Once the nerve is freed from the space in the spine, foot drop may resolve. Another technique is called nerve grafting. The damaged nerves below the knee are replaced with healthy nervous tissue.

The Importance of Support
Ankle braces and foot supports, known as an orthosis, are an extremely important to provide comfort during walking and prevent further deformity to the joint. As the muscles weaken in the forefoot, they become heavy and pull down on the ankle. Due to poor support, some people with drop foot can no longer achieve a normal 90 degree angle of the ankle-foot joint. Even people who are non- ambulatory should prevent deformity of the foot with a well-designed foot/ankle brace. Ensure the orthosis is lightweight, thin, and doesn’t have sharp or exposed edges that may cause friction injuries to the skin on the lower legs. The material should be breathable for comfort, to ensure it can be worn for long periods of time.

Overview of Foot Drop
Since it may be an indication of an underlying disease, people who note weakness in their feet should seek treatment from their healthcare provider. Foot support is important to maintain a normal joint angle and for comfortable walking. Foot drop may be permanent or temporary, but support is necessary for optimal health of the ankle-foot joint.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of lumbar sacral support braces and rehabilitative cold therapy units.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ACL Tears - What to Expect During Recovery

ACL tears are one of the most common forms of knee injuries, especially for athletes involved in high-risk sports like basketball, skiing and football. Recovering from an ACL injury can be a very difficult and long journey. In this article we will examine the entire process, from injury through recovery, and discuss what an individual who has recently sustained an ACL tear can expect during each phase along the way to help make the recovery process more manageable.

Causes of ACL Tears
ACL tears often are the result of a sudden change in direction, such as pivoting, cutting, awkward landings or sidestepping moves made in sports like basketball, skiing or football. Of course an ACL tear can also occur in non-sports settings as well.

The anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) is one of the four major ligaments in the knee that connect the tibia and femur bones that help form the knee joint. Torn ligaments, such as the ACL, cause the knee to be unstable.

Immediately following the injury, the patient usually will experience some pain as well as swelling and instability in the knee. To properly diagnose an ACL tear, a physician will usually order either x-rays or an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatment Options
There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options available for ACL tears. The best form of treatment will largely depend on the person’s activity level and the severity of the injury. For those who live fairly sedentary lifestyles non-surgical treatment may be an option, depending on how serious the injury is. Children may also need to forgo surgery because there is a risk of plate damage since their young bodies are still growing.

A non-surgical treatment program will involve extensive physical therapy and education. The patient may also wear a hinged knee brace to help with instability and prevent further injury.

For serious athletes and those with physically demanding jobs or active lifestyles, surgery is most likely the best option. For full ACL tears or combined injuries, surgery is also usually recommended.

ACL Reconstructive Surgery
Surgical treatment of a torn ACL involves reconstructive surgery where the damaged ACL is replaced with a graft made from tendon. The most common grafts are from a patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, or tendon from a cadaver. ACL reconstruction surgery does have a high success rate. Before undergoing surgery, the patient may be sent to do some physical therapy for a few days or weeks first.

Recovery from Surgery
After surgery, the patient will normally spend a few days lay in bed to recover. Once out of bed, he or she will most likely will be using crutches for a few weeks and after that may wear a functional hinged post-op knee brace.

Rehabilitation and Recovery
Rehabilitation usually starts several days after surgery. The main focus is on strength and mobility. The major goals are to strengthen the damaged knee and muscles surrounding the knee, such as the quadriceps muscle, as well as work on restoring range of motion and stability.

Physical therapy does involve doing lots of repetitive exercises and does require plenty of determination and focus. Serious athletes will spend almost every day, or at least several times a week, in the training room working on strengthening their knee. It is very important that the patient is willing to spend several months of hard work to restore their knee to full strength.

The rehabilitation process will generally last from six to nine months before an athlete is cleared to play contact sports again. The physician and trainer may also suggest that the patient wear a knee ACL ligament brace while playing to help protect and provide stability to the knee.

ACL reconstruction surgery does have a high success rate. A full recovery mostly depends on the severity of the patient’s injury and the dedication put into the rehabilitation process. It may take six months to a full year and a lot of hard work to regain full strength, but it is possible to recover from an ACL tear.

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