OSTEOARTHRITIS & YOUR KNEES

More than 27 million Americans have OA and the knee is one of the most commonly affected joints. There are many treatment options available including several non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical choices.

WHAT IS OA OF THE KNEE?

Osteoarthritis is commonly known as “wear-and-tear arthritis,” but did you know that young people get it, too? Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common type of arthritis; it happens when the body’s natural cushioning—cartilage—wears away between joints. Think of cartilage as a shock absorber for your knees; less cushion results in bone rubbing against bone, and that can cause stiffness, pain, swelling decreased mobility and bone spurs. OA typically develops slowly and becomes worse over time. There is no cure for OA, but there are many treatments available that can ease the pain and help people to retain or regain their mobility.

WHAT CAUSES OA?

The ability of cartilage to heal decreases as people age, but the causes of knee OA vary. It can be hereditary or can be the result of injury, infection, overuse or excess weight.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away. As it does the protective spaces between the bones decrease resulting in bone rubbing on bone, producing painful bone spurs.
  • Obesity is the No. 1 driver of knee OA and the No. 1 cause of disability in the U.S.
  • Weak muscles around the knee can cause OA
  • Every extra pound of weight adds 3 to 4 pounds of extra weight to the knees; extra weight increases pressure on knees
  • Genetic mutations can make a person more likely to develop knee OA; abnormalities of bones surrounding the knee joint can also cause OA
  • Women ages 55 and older are more likely to develop knee OA
  • Athletes who play soccer, tennis or run long-distance may be at higher risk
  • Activities that cause a lot of stress on the joint—kneeling, squatting, lifting heavy weights of 55 pounds or more—can cause OA of the knee due to repetitive stress
  • Those with rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic disorders are at higher risk to develop knee OA

WHO GETS KNEE OA?

  • More than 27 million Americans have OA; the knee is one of the most commonly affected joints with more than 11 million people diagonosed in the U.S.
  • Chances of developing OA increase after age 45 and according to the Centers for Disease Control, the average onset of knee OA is 55 years old.
  • More than 40 percent of knee replacements happen over the age of 65, so many people have to find other forms of conservative, non-invasive and non-addicting methods to control pain and maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Women aged 55 and older are more likely than men to develop knee OA.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I HAVE KNEE OA?

There are many options available for those with knee OA, including several that are non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical choices. You’ll want to talk with your health care provider about the treatment or combination of treatments that’s best for you; here are some you may want to explore and consider:

MOTION IS MEDICINE

  • Activities; walking, strength training, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi and other low-impact activities may help with pain and function of the knee
  • Lighten up; a 2007 review found that overweight people who lost a moderate amount of weight had reduced pain and disability from knee OA
  • Braces, sleeves other devices can help reduce pain and stiffness, take weight load off the affected joint and improve confidence and function for those with knee OA
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS uses electrodes to send a mild current to the affected joint, which can help alleviate pain
  • Acupuncture, balneotherapy (soaking in warm mineral springs) or heat or cold therapy may help ease joint pain for some people with knee OA
  • Medications can include acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topical NSAIDs, prescription medications, corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections and more
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, some studies have shown, can reduce pain and improve physical function; natural supplements, including avocado, soybean, capsaicin and turmeric, may have anti-inflammatory benefits for some people
  • Joint replacement or joint-preserving surgery may be an effective option for some people

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HOW CAN DONJOY HELP?

If you have mild to severe knee OA and experience intermittent to chronic knee pain, or if you are not a candidate for surgery, ask your doctor about the science of bracing. DonJoy pioneered the concept of functional knee bracing more than 30 years ago and offers the most advanced technologies available.

Most importantly, they can help people return or continue to live an active lifestyle. No one person with knee OA is treated the same, so it’s important to look at all of the available solutions to find what is right for you. Some people may need a lot of off-loading capabilities, while others need just a slight push and comfort that surrounds the muscles around the knee.

Preventing ACL Injuries

Dr. Adam Yanke, MOR sports medicine physician, recently sat down to discuss a study that showed athletes with fatigue are at higher risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. One of the ACL injury prevention programs that Yanke recommends for young athletes is Knees For Life (Kneesforlife.org), which offers a downloadable brochure and an opportunity to obtain complimentary gym bag tags featuring warm up exercises and other prevention strategies.

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Stronger than Yesterday: Why Should I Strength Train?

By  Kirstie Chase for Athletico

Fads are common in the fitness world, just think of Richard Simmons videos, Boflex infomercials and Shake Weights as examples. Some fitness fads, however, can stand the test of time.

Recently there has been increased popularity in strength training. This type of exercise,strength-train which is also referred to as resistance training, is designed to improve muscular fitness as the muscles generate force against external stimuli.1 Unlike other fitness fads, strength training is timeless because it helps to preserve and maintain healthy muscle.
Once thought to be an activity for athletes, strength training is now recommended as a safe and effective way to improve health. What’s more, anyone can benefit from this type of exercise regimen – be it male or female, novice or professional, young or old.2

Principles of Strength Training

Although it can seem overwhelming to set new health and wellness goals, this blog (and the two in this series to follow) aims to provide clarity and tips in strength training for a healthy year and a healthier you. Before getting started with a new strength training program, it is important to understand a few simple principles that lead to incredible health benefits.

  1. Progressive Overload – This principle refers to exercising the body to a level beyond which it is accustomed. Strength and growth occur when the muscles are progressively challenged to do more.3
  • If someone can bicep curl a 10 pound dumbbell for 10 reps with ease, they can either increase the amount of weight or reps to add an overload in this activity. It is advised to increase weight or reps one at a time, rather than both simultaneously.
  1. Specificity – This principle implies that an exercise must be specific to the muscles involved to improve strength in those muscles. Adaptations will occur due to the specific nature of the exercise.3
  • If someone wants to increase their upper body strength for pull-ups and push-ups they must do those exercises, or others that target the muscles involved. For instance, they will not improve upper body strength by running or cycling.
  1. Reversibility – This third principle states the improvements can be lost or reduced when the overload is removed or the specificity is changed.3
  • If someone stops resistance training they will see a reduction in their strength abilities. What’s more, if this person changes their specific goals they will also see a change in adaptations as well.

Health Benefits of Strength Training

The three aforementioned principles represent the basis on which strength develops. Becoming a stronger and healthier version of yourself requires progression and specificity to avoid reversibility. Creating a strength goal with these concepts in mind is a great way to form a base in your training. Since growth extends beyond lifting heavier weights in a gym setting, your strength goals will lend themselves into everyday health benefits, such as:

  • Combating muscle loss that occurs naturally with age
  • Preventing osteoporosis through muscular development
  • Reductions in body fat and increased lean muscle mass
  • Improvements in metabolic functions
  • Decreased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Developing neurological functions
  • Increased balance and coordination in movements
  • Reductions in injuries
  • Greater satisfaction and quality of life4

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The body is meant to move and more effective movement comes from developing strength. That said, it is important to keep safety top of mind when exercising in order to prevent injuries. If you do feel unusual aches and pains after working out, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.

Why is Cheerleading A High-Risk Sport?

In spite of being a highly skilled sport, cheerleading may be dismissed by some as a trivial activity. This misconception is simply dispelled by statistics that cheerleading accounts for 66% of all catastrophic injuries in female US athletes.

Requiring an array of dynamic skills and discipline, cheerleading is not only a highly demanding endeavor but also markedly high-risk, illustrated by research reports that cheerleading is the most statistically dangerous sport for US women.

First and foremost cheerleading is a highly-skilled sport, requiring highly dynamic movement, gymnastic demands and dance elements, and like any athletic endeavour carries a high risk of injury – particularly at the professional end of the spectrum where stunts and performance carry a higher risk of fall and overuse injuries.

In fact, a study by the University of North Carolina (UNC) National Catastrophic Sports Injury Research found cheerleading to be the cause of more injuries to US females than any other sport. The author of the report Frederick Mueller, Ph.D. commented that “A major factor in this increase has been the change in cheerleading activity, which now involves gymnastic-type stunts.” Indeed gymnastics was found to be the second most prolific injury-causing sport in women.

A cheerleader requires the following prerequisite skills and strengths: agility, flexibility, coordination, balance, strength and precision of movement. Timing is also an essential facet in avoiding injury, particularly in terms of regarding the safety of your team mates. Dropping a team mate during a flip or pyramid can have serious repercussions, so a constant mental engagement and awareness is crucial at all times. The requirements for the above mentioned skills obviously intensifies with the proficiency of the team, particularly for cheerleaders performing at a professional or national level.

When considering the specific logistics of certain signature cheerleader stunts – such as ‘basket toss’ stunts, in which cheerleaders are thrown up to 20 feet into the air – the causation of extremely high injury risk statistics are clear.

A notable cheerleading injury incident that made transatlantic headlines was the case of Orlando Magic stunt team cheerleader Jamie Woode. Watched by thousands during the televised event, a treacherous mis-step caused Woode a devastating fall during a the first half of the NBA event between Orlando Magic and the New York Knicks. Landing on her head, the incident resulted in concussion, three broken vertebrae and a broken rib.

While cheerleading is an established sport in American culture, it is also gaining keen momentum in the UK. Recent figures show that 37% of British schools now offer cheerleading as part of the physical education curriculum, and 68 UK universities were represented at the UK University Cheerleading Nationals in 2015. Particularly with an increase in popularity, ensuring the safety of cheerleading participants with informed advice and regulation is crucial.

The importance of a good coach

As with any sport, a good cheerleading coach is fundamental to the pursuit of progressive quality training, the safety of the athlete and the avoidance of injury risk. Dr. Mueller states, “If cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.”

Improved regulation of coaching credentials and cheerleader safety training in the UK and USA have contributed greatly to a recent reduction in reported cheerleader injuries. Bodies such as cheersafe.org also provide cheerleading facilitators, parents and participants with comprehensive cheerleading safety information and checklists for extra-curricular cheerleaders, and those competing within teams in the educational system.

Main causes of injury in cheerleading

The injuries most prevalent in cheerleading are as follows:

  • Falling injuries – A high-risk product of stunt work, falling injuries can cause anything from surface abrasions and brushing, to severe fractures and concussion.
  • ACL injuries – Mis-stepped landings, a sudden change in direction or pivoting of the knee during full extension of the leg, are all contributing factors to the high risk of ACL injuries in cheerleading.
  • Overuse injuries – Common in many sports with intensive training, cheerleaders may be at risk or overuse injuries.

How can injuries be avoided?

A fully accredited and experienced coach providing full supervision and expert guidance is at the heart of safe cheerleading practice. Similarly it is the responsibility of the participating cheerleader to be responsible and fully aware of their own safety, as well as that of their team mates. The individual should ensure they are comfortable with any stunts undertaken, and that they have the sufficient training and ability to perform any given stunt.

Cheerleading regulatory bodies have placed restrictions and regulations on certain stunts, in order to minimize injury risk. A fully accredited coach will always train a squad according to these safety regulations.

As with any athletic endeavor, supporting training exercises are recommended to ensure sufficient levels of fitness and conditioning to help optimise performance, and negate the risk of injury. The recommended training and considerations are as follows:

  • Resistance exercises – This is important to gain and/or maintain sufficient strength in the lower back, shoulders and stomach. Pilates exercises and resistance weight training are excellent exercises for cheerleaders.
  • Stretching exercises – Flexibility is a vital performance requirement for cheerleaders. Dynamic stretching or yoga are excellent options for cheerleaders to improve performance and negate the risk of injury.

Correct injury rehabilitation – As a cheerleader’s performance effects not only their safety but also that of their team mates, it is crucial that cheerleaders do not return to squad training until fully cleared by a sports professional. If injured, seeking the correct treatment and rehabilitation program is essential.

Despite it’s perhaps frivolous depiction in popular culture, cheerleading is a serious sport carrying very severe risks of serious injury. Nonetheless, the correct adherence to regulation, undertaking proper comprehensive training with an experienced and fully-qualified coach and performing supporting exercises all significantly reduce the risk of cheerleading injury.

By SportsInjuryClinic

The Importance of Magnesium For Muscle Recovery

Replenishing electrolytes after strenuous exercise is crucial, and magnesium has a particularly role in muscular health and recovery. Researchers studying marathon runners found magnesium to be the most highly depleted electrolyte in athletes, followed by potassium.

Bananas are an abundant food source of both magnesium and potassium, as well as being a conveniently portable high-energy snack – no wonder this year’s Wimbledon saw the total consumption of 2,100 kg of bananas by players. Magnesium is a vital mineral required for the mechanism of muscle relaxation to occur.

Without magnesium our muscles would remain in a permanent state of contraction, which is why this mineral is a particularly important consideration for athletes and the fitness community. The combined factors of stressors places upon the muscles and the natural loss of electrolytes during exercise, means that the replenishment of magnesium is a crucial part of effective muscle recovery.

Beyond the matter of muscular function, magnesium is a powerful anti-inflammatory mineral offering protection against illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease and arthritis. Magnesium is a vital mineral for general health as it assists in the body’s ability to absorb calcium into bone matter, and is crucial for nerve function. Without sufficient magnesium intake, elevated levels of calcium occur in the blood stream which can contribute to heart problems and poor bone health. A long-term magnesium deficiency can contribute to the development of osteoporosis, particularly in women.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Mild magnesium deficiency is relatively commonly among the modern day general western population, believed to be the by-product of modern farming and food processing methods. Over 60% of the western population are believed to be deficient in the mineral, with 30% of the US and UK population consuming below the recommended daily intake of magnesium within their daily diet.

Symptoms of low-level magnesium deficiency include muscular symptoms such as cramping, muscle spasms, and prolonged muscle soreness and tension without improvement or recovery. Mild magnesium deficiency can also present symptoms of poor sleep, anxiety and an inability to relax.

The most precise method to determine a mild deficiency is generally believed to be cellular testing, as only 0.3% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood serum.

Magnesium and nutrition

Foods rich in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, bananas, nuts and seeds, dried apricots, fish, legumes, natural yogurt and dark chocolate. Those with an existing magnesium deficiency, or those with digestive issues that impede upon correct nutrient absorption, may wish to take a high-quality oral supplement. As with all vitamin and mineral supplements, it is advised to check the appropriate dosage with a health care professional. Requested blood work can determine your existing blood serum levels of magnesium, and whether you are in need of supplementation.

As exercise leads to the natural depletion of electrolytes and trace minerals in the body, replenishing magnesium lost during exercise can aid muscle recovery and negate potential soreness and aches after an intensive work out. Sports drinks, designed to replenish electrolytes lost during exercise, contain magnesium, and certain mineral waters contain a trace amount of the mineral. Whilst nutritional sources are excellent supplies for daily maintain, there are other options which maximize muscular absorption of magnesium.

Transdermal magnesium for muscle recovery

An option which is gaining strong popularity in the sporting and fitness community, is to replenish magnesium using topical products. Transdermal products such as bath salts, lotions and sprays allow magnesium to be absorbed instantly into the skin for immediate assimilation by the muscles. This is an excellent choice, particularly for those without an existing long-term magnesium efficiency, who wish solely to aid muscle recovery after intensive sports and exercise.

Magnesium bath salts

Bathing in magnesium salts supports muscle recovery on two levels, efficiently utilizing the dual benefits of immersive heat therapy and the replenishment of depleted magnesium stores from exercise-induced electrolyte loss. This is why epsom salts are such an important bathroom and locker-room staple of many professional athletes and dancers. Epsom salts are widely accessible from pharmacies, and magnesium bath flakes are readily available online.

Magnesium recovery sprays and lotions

Increasingly some athletes have made a topical magnesium spray or lotion part of their sports kit, utilizing it for efficient assimilation into the blood stream, effectively negating the effects of muscle strain and tension after exercise. As with magnesium salt baths, this method provides immediate magnesium replenishment to the body, but with the added time-saving convenience and portability of the product.

The use of a topical magnesium product is particularly beneficial for those undergoing intensive weight training – such as bodybuilders – and those undertaking sports involving short periods of sprinting. Both activities have a particular tendency to cause shortening and bulking of the muscles, which causes heightened stress to the muscles. Replenishing magnesium can help negate soreness and tightness associated with intensive muscle stress.

Magnesium is a vital mineral and ensuring your requirements are met is necessary to optimum health. Boosting your intake of magnesium via nutritional and topical means can aid muscle recovery after exercise, negate post-exercise muscular discomfort, and therefore can potentially assist muscular recovery and boost athletic performance.

By SportsInjuryClinic