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.
- 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:
- 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
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.
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.
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.
If you’re a guy and you’re not doing yoga, you’re missing out.
For some men, yoga is still considered soft and fluffy—a “non-workout” or something just for the girls. But this is far from reality. These days, more guys are starting to pay attention and take note. If you’re serious about your sport, or overwhelmed with the everyday chaos of life, then the practice of yoga will benefit you on all levels, inside and out.
Now, whether you’re new to the mat or you’re already a seasoned sun saluter, you know that yoga is more than just physical. It’s the full package. It’s the workout you may want, but what it does on the inside is where the magic is. For guys, yoga helps to cultivate calm, alleviates stress and anxiety, and brings a quieter perspective to your life. Yoga can be a workout and work-in.
Yoga is a practice of finding space through the body, through the mind, and through the daily grind. This is something that all men could use a little more of.
So now is the time to step in and step on the mat, to give it a go and see how your mind, body, and life change for the better.
The truth is, some guys think that yoga makes them less of a man. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
If that’s not enough of case for you, here are five reasons why every man should practice yoga:
1. Yoga will make you better at your workout of choice.
Whatever your workout is, yoga will help. Whether you’re a casual CrossFitter, a pavement-pounding runner, or an everyday adrenaline junkie, yoga will help you get better.
A regular yoga practice strengthens and lengthens muscles, rehabilitates the joints, and helps to open and restore the body after high-impact and explosive workouts. Regardless of what you do, yoga is something that every athlete (and guy) needs more of.
Practicing yoga doesn’t mean you need to stop or give up what you’re already doing, it means you’ll just getter better.
2. It will increase your balance.
For guys, finding balance is tough; we’re just not that graceful. But doing yoga can help to bring balance into the body and, more importantly, into our everyday lives.
Guys are notorious for taking on too much—hectic jobs, busy lives, endless social activities, nights out, morning workouts, and lots more. We like to keep busy, so finding the balance can be tricky. On the mat, yoga cultivates strength, flexibility, and mobility, the three essential attributes for balance in the body. No other physical discipline can do that.
But practicing yoga not only helps balance the physical body, but it adds softness to a hard-hitting life on and off the mat.
3. Yoga will help you wake up.
Doing yoga in the morning is better than drinking three cups of coffee. Moving the body first thing will wake you up, oxygenate the blood, fire up the brain, and activate your metabolism, digestion, and mental fortitude. And what’s best is that it’s all-natural, no additives needed.
But practicing in the morning isn’t the only way to get the benefits; doing yoga anytime will wake you up. A simple flow or a few minutes of mindful movement throughout the day will keep the body healthy, the mind calm, and help you find the focus anytime throughout the day.
4. It keeps you young.
It’s not the Fountain of Youth, but it’s pretty damn close. Practicing yoga regularly will keep you feeling young in the body and mind. A regular practice will give you strength and flexibility, nurture the joints, and restore the body. Your energy levels will increase through a regular practice, and you’ll feel more awake and alive and ready to take on the world each and every day.
5. It cultivates quiet.
Life is busy, and the world we live in is noisy. The truth is, there is no off-switch to the chaos, but the practice of yoga can help to turn the volume down and cultivate the quiet in body and mind. The more you practice, the more you start to see the benefits of stillness in your everyday life.
There are enough things that are on full-blast in our lives, and yoga simply helps to turn the volume down.
Yoga helps manage stress and anxiety. Yes, guys get stressed and anxious, but oftentimes we just don’t show it. Through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation techniques, we can learn to manage stress and quiet the mind.