DEVELOPING THE YOUNG FEMALE ATHLETE

In 2011, Naomi Kutin broke a world powerlifting record, squatting 215 lbs. She was in the 97 lbs weight clas…and was just nine years old. She broke a record previously held by a 44 year old German woman. Since then, Naomi has become a prodigy with the nickname “Supergirl” in the lifting community. Now, at 16, she has continued to astound, deadlifting 365 lbs in the last Pan American Championships with Team USA.

As you look at your own daughter, you’re probably thinking, “Thank goodness my daughter wants to play softball… “Aren’t girls like Naomi a special case?” And…most importantly, “Is what Naomi doing in that video EVEN SAFE???” As parents, coaches, trainers…we all walk a fine line. We want to keep young athletes from the life-long consequences of injury but we still want to help them be their best. Especially if they LOVE their sport. No one wants to put out the fire of a young athlete. But when is it our responsibility to draw the line? How can we prepare our young athletes for the risks of their sport?

Until recently, strength training and young athletes has been a taboo subject. Even more so for females. Most parents have no problems signing their daughter up for softball or soccer, but strength training? It just doesn’t happen that easily. Here’s the problem: Our girls are getting hurt.  In soccer. In softball. In volleyball. And, our girls are getting hurt more often- and worse -than our boys.

With more females participating in sports over the last decade, science has devoted a greater focus to female athletes and their development. Currently, data for gender-matched sports show females present a higher incidence of injuries than male athletes. And when we think about it….it makes sense!!! We KNOW that male athletes have more muscle mass and a baseline of strength due to their hormonal makeup (hello higher testosterone!).

YET in gender-matched sports with similar rules (ie softball/ baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, etc), males and females are exposed to the SAME FORCES on the field or court. But we keep throwing our comparatively weaker females on to this field or court.

It’s no wonder our female athletes keep getting injured!

Girls are seeing an increase in injury in sports, particularly

  • stress fractures,
  • ACL tears,
  • and other knee injuries like PFPS (patellofemoral pain syndrome)

What’s the solution? How can we prepare young female athletes for a healthy athletic career?

Strength Training.

The science is clear: strength training is not just a necessary training tool for football players; it is a necessary tool for all ATHLETES to help prepare their bodies for the forces imposed in sport. And based on the current research, it is CRUCIAL we start making strength training a PRIORITY for today’s female athlete. (1)

In this article we are going to discuss:

  • When should females begin strength training programs
  • The ‘neuromuscular spurt’ girls need for athletic development
  • Common injuries and training techniques that reduce risk
  • How CULTURE has created a dangerous myth surrounding strength training for girls

Lifting the Myth: How Young is Too Young?

“The young bodies of modern day youth are often ill prepared to tolerate the demands of sports or physical activity.”

READ MORE AT: http://relentlessathleticsllc.com/2018/12/developing-the-young-female-athlete/

Contributed by: Emily R Pappas, MS Exercise Physiology

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Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By Karen Malkin Health Counseling 

In an ideal world, you’d simply drop off into a peaceful slumber every night, however, sleep—or a lack of good sleep—can often cause you to feel bad emotionally and physically. In fact, research shows that sleep is a complex state that affects a wide range of your body’s mechanisms, including:

• brain plasticity
• memory
• emotional processing
• cardiovascular function
• respiratory function
• cellular function
• immune function

A large study also shows the specific interconnectivity of insomnia and depression. It’s clear that sleep affects your overall wellness. [1]

About Insomnia
Today, with more than 40 million Americans struggling with insomnia, sleep disorders are at epidemic proportions. And they not only effect adults (they are especially common in women); up to 25% of children also suffer from sleep disorders! [2, 3]

Those who suffer from insomnia—which is defined as a having difficulty sleeping for more than 4 weeks—are commonly hyper-aroused and have an increased metabolic rate across the 24-hour circadian cycle. This may explain why they are less sleepy during the day by objective measures than “normal” sleepers. But what are some of the causes of insomnia?

Common Medical Conditions
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep apnea and snoring
Other Common Contributors
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
Quality Sleep: 10 Tips

To combat insomnia, here are some specific areas of sleep hygiene you may want to focus on:

1. Follow the rhythm of life.
Establish a regular bed and rising time, get exposure to early morning sunlight and dim evening light, and maintain regular times for meals and exercise. (Although napping has health benefits, it can worsen the effects of insomnia.)

2. Manage intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. 
These are all sleep disruptors. Recommendations about caffeine may not be conservative enough given its significant half-life.

3. Avoid exercise before bed. 
Regular cardiovascular exercise promotes healthy sleep, but not 3 to 4 hours prior to bed (it raises your core body temperature, and can interfere with sleep).

4. Avoid high glycemic and hard-to-digest foods in the evening. 
Instead, opt for complex carbs; they may help transport tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin.

5. Create a healthy sleep environment. 
Keep your bedroom cool (about 68ºF), completely dark, quiet, and as “green” possible. If possible, use HEPA filtration to clean the air and choose organic and non-toxic bedding and mattress.

6. Limit screen time before bed. 
Blue light from your computer and phone screens can cause melatonin suppression and disrupt sleep. [4] Smartphones offer a blue light filter that can be enabled by the user and glass lenses now offer blue-light filtering.

7. Move your clock. 
Clock watching merely stimulates wakefulness. Ideally, position the clock away from the bed.

8. Use mind-body techniques to manage hyperarousal. 
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) addresses sleep-related dysfunctional thoughts that trigger arousal. An excellent resource is a free app called “CBT-i Coach” that provides various relaxation techniques. For best results, couple that with modalities such as mindfulness meditation, muscular relaxation, self-hypnosis, breathing exercises, and guided imagery.

9. Using your bed only for sleep and sex. 
Minimize wakeful time spent there by going to bed only when sleepy. If more than 15-20 minutes of nighttime wakefulness occurs, get out of bed, do a non-stimulating activity, and then return to bed once you feel sleepy.

10. Consider supplementation. 
When discontinuing hypnotics or otherwise indicated, short- term supplementation with herbs like valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, and/or hops can be helpful. Melatonin is useful in older populations or if you have circadian irregularities. Always couple this with other sleep hygiene recommendations.

Quantity of Sleep: How Much Is Enough?

According to Dr. Param Dedhia, MD, Director of Sleep Medicine at Canyon Ranch, it is a fallacy that we need less sleep as we get older. Most all adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But it evolves throughout adulthood, with older people getting less deep sleep. They are also more arousable at night; however, they are able to better cope with arousals.[5]

Some of the consequences of poor sleep include decreased tolerance for pain and hunger, explains Dr. Dedhia.[6, 7] The following sleep and/or stress chemicals do double duty as hunger chemicals:

Cortisol   |   Signals stress
Hypocretin / Orexin   |   Difficulty staying awake
Neuropeptide Y   |   Carbohydrate craving
Gallanin   |   Fat craving
Ghrelin   |   Immediate hunger signal

To avoid cravings during the day, it’s best to do all you can to clock your 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. But ultimately, it’s impossible to force sleep. We can set the stage and be receptive to it, but we cannot intentionally “go to sleep.” Letting go and succumbing to slumber may be the most important thing we can do to get that perfect night’s sleep.

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Outdoor Winter Workout Tips

outdoor winter workout tips

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

Winter is here! As the weather turns cold, snowy and icy, it makes outdoor workouts seem impossible. Cold weather does not mean all outdoor workouts must cease, but there are ways to keep up your routine or even try a new wintertime workout. Here are some tips for working out in the cold:

Outdoor Winter Workout Tips

  • Start by warming up indoors – this can include a 5-10 minute jog in place, jumping jacks or jumping rope. By doing this, your body starts off warmer when you go outside into the cold.
  • Don’t exercise outside if the temperature is too cold – know your limits and make sure to check the wind chill before deciding to work out outdoors. In general, it is a good idea to exercise indoors if the wind chill is zero or below to avoid conditions like hypothermia or frostbite.
  • Check the weather before you leave your house – make sure there isn’t a storm in the forecast or any large change in the weather that could leave you at increased risk for frostbite during the length of your workout.
  • Try to work out outside when it is warmest, which is typically near midday – to do this, try exercising on your lunch break or leave your outdoor workouts for the weekends and supplement with indoor workouts during the week.
  • Dress in layers –
    • A sweat wicking fabric should be closest to your body (not cotton)
    • The next layer is an insulation layer such as fleece or wool
    • The outer layer should be waterproof
    • Make sure to protect the head, hands, feet and ears
    • Consider a scarf or mask that can cover the face if it is really cold
  • Beware of icy conditions, as this can increase your risk for falling during a workout –
    • Make sure you select footwear with good traction
    • There are also removable options that can be attached to shoes to give added traction on icy sidewalks or terrain
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia –
    • skin color changes
    • numbness
    • tingling or stinging
    • ice crystals on the skin
    • vigorous shivering
    • lethargy
    • amnesia
    • fine motor skill impairment

Other Options for Winter Workouts

Sometimes an outdoor workout is not going to happen during the winter months. This can be a great time to try a new workout or to change up your routine. There are several options that can be effective, including at-home workouts or gym workouts that could include using weights or joining a class. Here are a few options:

  • Water workouts – these are a great change in pace and allow you to work muscles that may not get as much attention with traditional outdoor workouts. Find a local gym with a pool to try swimming or other water based workouts.
  • Yoga – this is a great indoor activity that can help you focus on stretching, core strengthening, and can be a good compliment to your normal workout routines
  • Something new – there are many workout options that may be new to your routine, including spin, Pilates, POUND, Zumba or body pump. These classes are a fun way to work out when the weather drives you indoors.
  • Fun winter-specific workouts, like cross country skiing or snowshoeing – these are both amazing cardio and strengthening workouts for both the upper and lower body.
  • Take the time during the winter months to focus on any problem areas that may have shown during the warmer months – if you had any areas of pain or weakness during the rest of the year, now is a great time to focus on stretching and strengthening that area to prevent any aggravation when you resume your regular outdoor workouts.

Heading into the Spring Injury-Free

Regardless of the workouts you try this winter, it is important to pay attention to your body so you can head into the warmer weather without injury and ready to resume your normal routine. Should unusual aches and pains occur during or after a workout, schedule a free assessment at a nearby Athletico so our experts can help you heal.

SCHEDULE A FREE ASSESSMENT

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Ask the Doctor!

This regular segment of ‘Ask the Doctor’ addresses questions submitted by Sports Medicine Weekly followers. Dr. Nik Verma from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush will be discussing:

  • Recovery time required for a young baseball player after an elbow injury
  • Controversial use of a weighted ball conditioning program to increase throwing velocity

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

If you have a question to be addressed on an upcoming show, please click here to submit your question.

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