Monday, September 16, 2013

"To play, or not to play, that is the question" - Youth Sports Benefits and Early Specialization

Submitted by Kevin Devine, Athletic Development Coach, Sports Medicine Institute

Given the contemporary epidemic of inactivity and obesity in American children, youth sports are thought to play a major role in improving a child’s health and welfare for his or her future. Not to discourage parents from enrolling their child in youth sports, but present-day youth sports has its critics and potential downfalls. Criticizers see these highly popular children’s activities as plagued by major problems. Concerns have been voiced regarding the highly competitive nature of youth sports and it is often argued that young athletes become injured or burnout as a result of excessive stress and pressure. Others believe that children are thought to learn inappropriate behaviors such as aggression or poor sportsmanship from their involvement. Also, a major problem is that if a parent is too involved in their child’s early specialization this could lead to dysfunctional parent/ child relationships. This article is meant to show benefits in youth sports and educate parents on keeping a child healthy and interested in youth sports.

Some of the many benefits of a child’s early involvement in sport and early specialization include:

  • Learning physical skills. Young athletes learn both fundamental motor skills (e.g., running, jumping and hopping) and sport-specific skills (e.g., how to putt a golf ball or shoot a jump shot in basketball). These skills can also be transferred to other sports and leisure activities, promoting increased participation and involvement.
  • Appreciation of fitness. Two of the motives for participation identified by children are “to get exercise” and “stay in shape” (Ewing & Seefeldt; 1989); participating in sports offers this benefit.
  • Sense of belonging. Another strong motive of participation is social interaction. Sports can provide peer interaction through both teammates and healthy competition (Weiss & Stuntz, 2004).
  • Sport allows children to grow and mature as individuals. Moral development, discipline, self-confidence and self-worth are taught through sport.
  • Mistakes and losing are often made in sport; however this is a “safe” place to make them. Learning resilience at a young age will help them throughout life.

Excessive stress, injury, being burnt out, along with other negative aspects of youth sport can be avoided. Here are some simple ways to avoid putting too much stress on athletes and creating problems.

  • The thrill should be competition, not winning. For many youth sports, parents’ idea of fair teams is an anomaly. Stack the team. Get the best players. Annihilate the competition. This couldn't be further from the truth. Athletes need to be challenged and put in tough situations to learn how to overcome and be resilient. At a young age is the time to learn, when the stakes are low. Not when the child is older competing for an important title or championship.
  • Sometimes kids need encouragement to help keep them on track; however there is a fine line between encouraging and pushing. This “line” can be easily crossed and parents need to be reminded of the basic do’s and don’ts to help keep their child happy, healthy and interested in sports.
    • Make sure your child is playing a sport that they enjoy, building their own identity and not living through yours.
    • Encourage your child to set their own goals to measure progress and be accountable for their own achievements. You may help define appropriate and realistic goals so they are not overwhelmed.
    • Don’t criticize or yell, give simple feedback. Give only a few things to work on or improve at a time. Make sure it’s not a list, especially a list of things not to do. Children can only handle a little information at a time, especially if it’s negative.

Injury is another major concern. 48% of youth sport athletes have been found to have at least one injury during an athletic season. 65% of injuries in youth sports are minor. Males are slightly more prone to acute injuries such as knee and back pain; however females are more inclined to severe injuries such as ACL tears. Correcting muscle imbalances, improving weaknesses, functional limitations and movement; one can increase performance and reduce the risk of injury. Training two – three times a week for one hour can have a great impact on performance and injury prevention. The program must include these components: a warm up, flexibility, mobility, plyometrics focusing on change of direction, deceleration, and landing technique, strength training focusing on total body strength and also corrective exercises. The combination of these together can significantly reduce chance of injury. While also improving the way the body moves on the field or court, increasing force production and decreasing reaction time.

Just remember the reasons for your child participating in sport:

  • To have fun
  • To do something they are good at
  • To stay in shape
  • To learn new or improve skills
  • To play as part of a team

When these reasons are no longer being conveyed then take a step back and think about your long term goals and reasons for participating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Concussions in sports topic of Sports Medicine Institute program

A free program titled, “Concussions in Sport,” focusing upon high school athletes, will be presented from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Franciscan Point Sports Medicine Institute, 12800 Mississippi Parkway (about one-half mile east of Interstate 65 and along U.S. 231).

Keith Pitchford, D.O., institute medical director; and Timothy Mullally, D.O., institute program director; will discuss evaluation methods for concussions and acute treatment and return-to-play management of concussions.

Other speakers will include physical therapists Jennifer Bradsky and Jennifer Guillen and licensed athletic trainers Stephanie Smith and Trent Trump.

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations.

Registration is required by calling (800) 931-3322.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Contrast Hot and Cold Plunge – Helpful Recovery for Athletes?

Submitted by Anna Garduno, Strength and Conditioning, Personal Training, Sports Medicine Institute

Is the cold plunge or contrasting hot and cold bath method of recovery helpful to athletes? Or is it just a cool way of one upping your opponent by saying you can sit in freezing cold water for a longer period of time? This is a question we hear often from high level athletes looking for the quickest recovery after continuous training causing wear and tear on the body.

Many athletes train extremely hard these days with sometimes two practices in one day three to five times a week. Without proper recovery it is difficult for an athlete to maintain a high level of training. High level athletes are turning to different recovery methods. Hot and cold contrasting baths is one of them. Let’s look at a few questions before we answer the main question. What is happening to the muscles as you participate in one intense workout after another? When an athlete takes a plunge in the freezing cold waters what is happening to the muscles? After those questions are answered we will be able to see a little more closely if contrasting baths really works. We will also see what other forms of quick recovery can help your athlete achieve their goals of staying healthy and competitive.

What is happening to the muscles as you participate in one intense workout after another? Eccentric, intensive and unfamiliar exercises are causing damage to the muscles. Post exercise symptoms consisting of tender, stiff and sore muscles are referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This usually takes place about 24-72hrs post exercise. Some theories suggest that DOMS is muscle fiber damage or a breakdown of muscle proteins resulting in inflammation and cellular degradation. How would plunging your body into freezing temperatures help in the recovery process? When dipping your body into freezing temperatures (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) a decrease in subcutaneous and muscle temperatures occurs causing a narrowing of the blood vessels, also known as vasoconstriction. This helps in limiting the amount of swelling, reducing muscle spasm and clearing metabolites from superficial deep tissues. When contrasting hot and cold, the hot plunge has the opposite effect (90-104 degree Fahrenheit )in that it increases tissue temperature causing vasodilation, which causes increased blood flow leading to increased oxygen and antibody supply to muscle tissue while also contributing to reduction of muscle spasms and clearance of metabolites. How do you go about taking a cold plunge or contrast bath? When contrasting a good amount of time in each bath would be 3min hot 1min cold 2-3 times each tub starting in cold and always finishing in cold. A cold plunge can range between 8-12min for the desired effects. Many athletes claim that this method of recovery is helpful in getting them ready for the next hard work out or vigorous game.

Science is still testing the effects of this method of recovery on the muscles with no concrete proof of their effects. But researchers can say they have not found it to be harmful and if the athlete is feeling better with these methods than why not keep it up.

In conclusion this may be a very easy and efficient way to recover from the intensity of many sports. So far no harm has been found and athletes seem to find it helpful. There are other methods of recovery that are also helpful.

  1. Cool Down and Warm Up - A good warm up and proper cool down will help in keeping the muscles from an abrupt start or finish to a work out. A good cool down will help remove lactic acid from the muscles and will help in preventing muscle stiffness.
  2. Resting - After a hard workout can allow the body to repair and recover at a natural pace.
  3. Replace fluids - During a workout is important but so is after a workout to help in increasing recovery. Water aids in the metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of fluids helps in improving bodily functions.
  4. Stretching - In a gentle and easy way can help the muscles recover at a decent pace.
  5. Massage - Getting a massage not only feels good on the broken torn apart muscles but also helps in circulation.
  6. Proper nutrition - It is important that you refuel your body after you have depleted it of all its nutrients in order for the body to repair tissues, recover and get stronger to be ready for the next intense workout. The best way to do this would be to include some high quality proteins and complex carbohydrates within 60 min post exercise.
  7. Sleep - While you are sleeping the body is busy at work producing growth hormones (GH) which play a large part in tissue growth and repair. Getting enough sleep is a great way of allowing your body to achieve the proper recovery.



Work Cited
Cochrane, D. "Alternating Hot and Cold Water Immersion for Athlete Recovery: A Review." Physical Therapy in Sport 5.1 (2004): 26-32.

"10 Ways To Recover Quickly After an Exercise." About.com Sports Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2012.

"Hydrotherapy." Hydrotherapy. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Graston Technique - Recover like the pros!

Submitted by Kevin Devine, Athletic Development Coach

The Olympics are over and Michael Phelps added 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals to his collection. He also broke the overall medal count bringing his medal count to 22!

To get Phelps to be the most decorated Olympian he is put through rigorous training. Phelps and his trainer look for ways to help him recover quickly and effectively from the strenuous training. Making sure he is feeling and moving at his best for races. In 2007 at a meet in Missouri, Phelps’s shoulders and back were locked up, tight and he wasn’t moving well. This is when Michael was first introduced into Graston Technique. His strength trainer, Keenan Robinson used the Graston tools, worked it out and he broke the world record in the 200 butterfly.

Graston is stainless-steel instruments used to scan and treat muscles and soft tissue, find adhesions, break down scar tissue. Following treatment the connective tissue and muscle fibers are then stretched to promote optimal length and function. When Graston tools are moved over lumps or adhesions, the hands' ability to feel are amplified through the tools, much like a doctor uses a stethoscope to hear a patient’s chest. This helps detect major and minor fiber changes and restrictions. The tools also put minimal stress on the clinician’s hands compared to a “hands on” massage while also allowing for maximal tissue penetration.

Graston can be used to treat many different types of injuries and has many benefits. Typical injuries Graston is used for include: shin splints, tendinosis/tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, neck pain, back pain and also to break up scar tissue from surgery or injury. However, most importantly Graston decreases overall time of treatment, faster rehabilitation/recovery and can resolve chronic conditions.

Other than Michael Phelps, there are also many professional teams and athletes that use Graston Technique.  About half of the NBA, MLB and NFL teams use Graston, as well as the NHL, PGA, English Premier League, multiple amateur sports, 51 respected colleges and universities and 38 major corporations such as Frito Lay, US Army and Navy. Overall, the number of clinician’s and sports teams using Graston continues to grow. Also, with the results from using Graston, it has shown to be a great improvement from “yesterday’s” methods of recovery and rehabilitation.

At SMI, we strive to stay up to date with the latest techniques of recovery in sports medicine.  We currently use Graston technique in our facitlity. Come in today to get treated like the professionals!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Deception: Speed Vs. Quickness (Hint: They Are Not the Same)

Submitted by Kevin Devine, Athletic Development Coach

Is it speed or quickness? Take a look at these examples...take a guess...answers revealed at the end of the blog post:

  • Stealing second base
  • Crossover dribble
  • Full court layup
  • Reacting to a curving pitch
Here are definitions to help you better understand speed and quickness.

  • Speed: A measure of rate of motion, specifically distance traveled divided by the time of travel (ex: meters/second)
    • Running from point A to point B
    • In sprinting, top speed is not reached until 60 meters
Pure sprint speed relies on good foot frequency with tremendous force application each step.

  • Quickness: Moving or functioning rapidly; reacting immediately and sharply
    • Sprinting, moving your feet rapidly
    • Touching a hot surface with your hand and moving your hand away fast

In sprinting the foot is on and off the ground very rapidly. Therefore, the time allowed for force production is limited. Often athletes with extremely fast foot frequency sometimes have trouble applying enough force to generate sufficient acceleration and velocity. Fast limb speed and slow time is a giveaway that the athlete is not applying enough force to the ground.

Now that you know the difference between speed and quickness, it is important to understand what is needed to become a better athlete. Most sports require the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions well in a short distance and small amount of time. There are two ways to become better at these movements: 1) apply more force into the ground or 2) become better at applying the same force.

Improving drive or propulsion at the initial acceleration phase will improve an athlete’s ability to apply more force and reach maximum speed as fast as possible. However, maximal speed isn’t typically reached in sport. Maximal speed is usually reached at about 60 meters. That is why training for the first 10 to 15 meters is the most important for sport; being able to apply a large force in a short amount of time. This is referred to as power, in definition power is speed x strength. Gains in strength can be made through proper weight training. Gains in applying large forces are mainly due to the body’s ability to recruit a maximal number of motor units/muscle fibers for the given task. This can be done through plyometrics or other explosive training. Speed and strength combined; power, is the primary factor to improving and developing an athlete’s ability to change direction, accelerate and decelerate. Just remember when developing a program time should be spent training all aspects of sport performance. Even though most time is spent developing force development; training flexibility, core strength, glute activation, foot speed etc. are just as important. If an athlete is inflexible or not very mobile their quality of movement is limited. Don’t focus too much on one piece of the pie!

An athlete should have proper foundation before beginning any advanced training.

Now...the answers to our little quiz. How did you do?

  • Stealing second base? Speed
  • Crossover dribble? Quickness
  • Full court layup? Speed
  • Reacting to a curving pitch? Quickness

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time to Recover - Understanding Post Exercise Nutrition

Submitted by Kevin Devine, Athletic Development Coach

There are many products on the market for post exercise nutrition to help the body recover. This article is to help narrow your search and eliminate discrepancies. During and after exercise the body is in a heightened state and burns more calories than resting state. This means after a strenuous workout, the body has to be "re-fueled" in a sense. The combination of glycogen (carbohydrates), protein, water, and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) is what the body needs for a quick recovery. Also, in small amounts glucose (sugar) is helpful because it is quickly broken down to be used as immediate fuel or stored as muscle glycogen.

What is post workout nutrition?

Post exercise nutrition is the intake of a supplement, food or drink after exercise to help improve rate of recovery after a strenuous workout. Post exercise nutrition can help decrease muscle soreness by supplying essential components for muscle repair and replenish muscle glycogen (fuel for the body) lost from exercise.

What has all the different components needed for optimal recovery?

Chocolate milk! 1% milk mixed with chocolate powder has shown good results while also very inexpensive. However, there are other products on the market with the same ingredients and results.

Why is recovery time important?

Muscle recovery is key for maintaining an effective exercise program. During increased physical activity, the body must be provided with the essential fuels and supporting nutrients to support our muscles during a workout, and assist in speeding and enhancing the muscle recovery process. The faster and more effectively you can recover, the better you can perform during your next workout. Recovery drinks are far from a miracle drink and may not completely recover you after a hard workout. However, if integrated carefully into a well-designed nutrition and exercise program, it will aid in improvement and give you an edge to recovery. You must recognize that small positive changes, stacked upon each other, over time, lead to large improvements.

What should your post exercise nutrition and how to measure it? 

Studies have shown that drinking a liquid is better than eating solid food. Liquid is digested faster and typically has a high water content to help replenish fluid lost from sweat. Also, liquid is usually easier to stomach after a hard workout. A post recovery drink should contain approximately twice as many carbohydrates as protein, a 2:1 ratio. Each body is different but this formula can use as a guideline to follow for a recovery drink. Essentially for every kilogram of body weight, there should be 0.4 grams of carbohydrate and 0.2 grams of protein. For example: a 180lb basketball player ~82 kg; 82 kg x 0.4g/kg = 32.7 grams of carbohydrate. 82 kg x 0.2 g/kg = 16.4 grams of protein. This is an only an approximation; however general guidelines estimates 20 grams of protein is sufficient.

How long after exercise should I have this drink?

There is a small window of opportunity for better results of post exercise nutrition. Immediately after an intense workout, when glycogen stores are depleted, production of the enzymes that convert glucose into glycogen is increased offering an ideal opportunity to replenish fuel supply. The enzyme levels only remain elevated for about 30-45 minutes, allowing an opportunity to consume sugar (glucose) for muscles to use as fuel Also this is the same time frame for optimal protein synthesis for muscle repair.

If done properly post exercise nutrition can improve recovery time and allow the body to perform better the next training session!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Making the Best Better

Student-athlete receives help, healing at Sports Medicine Institute

Sarah Rivich gets a kick out of playing sports— two of them, in fact.

The Crown Point High School junior is a standout soccer and basketball player who aspires to continue her athletic career in college. "I hope to play college soccer, on a scholarship, one day," she said, adding she already is receiving inquiries from colleges.

Rivich gives much of the credit for her progress to the treatment, training and confidence she has derived during the last two years of working with the staff at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point's Sports Medicine Institute, located at Franciscan Point. After suffering sports-related strains during freshman year, Rivich was referred to SMI by family friend Jennifer Bradsky, supervisor of outpatient therapy.

Marilu Rivich lauds the impact SMI has had on her daughter. "She had three or four sprains freshman year and has had none since. SMI has been very helpful by providing the appropriate treatment and by showing Sarah exercises to do at home to prevent injury. The staff here is so sincere—they assess the needed treatment as a team and provide great care. The program here is the best in this area."

Rivich, who also is a member of the nationally known Eclipse Soccer Club-Northwest Indiana Division, also visits SMI regularly for strength, agility and conditioning work. "It helps make me stronger and faster and builds confidence; it's a great place, I like coming here," she said.

Rivich has recommended SMI to many fellow athletes and said most of her school's sports team members receive treatment and training there, as do those from numerous other area schools.

Rivich especially credits her progress and success to Tracy Hall, a certified athletic trainer with whom she has worked closely; as well as to Anna Garduno, an athletic coach; to Bradsky, to Frank Eksten, SMI director of athletic development; and to Dr. Timothy Mullally, its medical program director.

Eksten said he is impressed with Rivich's maturity, development and work ethic. "Sarah is a very gifted, multiple-sport athlete, who practices and competes at a very high level of intensity. As a soccer and basketball athlete, she moves right from one season into the next and rarely gets time to let her body recover. This can catch up with any athlete and they will start to get small aches and pains that can develop into ongoing injuries that don’t go away," Eksten said.

"I think we have helped Sarah learn the value of utilizing recovery methods in her training schedule, become more aware of how she is feeling and to not just ignore little aches and pains and hope they will go away. Sarah has become much more educated and in-tune with her body and how she is feeling and is now taking the right steps early on," he added.


This article is featured in the Fall/Winter 2011 edition of the Franciscan Focus magazine.