Archive for October, 2014

Most Common Women’s Sports Injuries

A woman’s sports injuries are basically the same as a man’s.

But there are some peculiarities due to differences in anatomy and issues related to the menstrual cycle.

Here’s a look at some of the most common overuse sports injuries suffered by women, including stress fracture, runner’s knee, jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, and frozen shoulder, and how to treat them.

Stress Fracture

Women tend to have a higher incidence of stress fractures then men.

Stress fractures occur from repetitive forces.

They are more common in women who do not menstruate compared to those who do.

A woman with osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density) will also be at greater risk of stress fracture because of decreased bone density.

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing and jogging, are particularly valuable in reducing bone loss in middle-aged and postmenopausal women, and may help prevent osteoporosis.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by a stable, but painful knee.

This is much more common among women because a woman’s pelvis is wider, making the angle between the thigh and the calf sharper, which is known as an increased Q-angle.

This results in greater force toward the front and inner part of the knee.

The tendency is for the kneecap to pull out of line and rub on the side of its groove, causing knee pain.

Conservative treatment includes physical therapy, core strengthening, stretching of quadriceps and hip external rotator muscles, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction.

Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendinitis, is characterized by pain in the front of the knee.

Pain increases with running and jumping, and the pain symptoms may intensify during the night and upon waking in the morning.

The pain comes from inflammation of the tendons that hook into the upper and lower ends of the kneecap.

The more you train and the higher the intensity of your training, the more you feel the pain.

The first treatment is to rest long enough to get over the acute pain, and to take anti-inflammatory agents to reduce the pain, if necessary.

If pain continues or increases, cortisone injections can help manage the pain and swelling, or surgical treatment may be required.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury to the tendons at the lateral humeral epicondyle, the bands of tissue that connect the arm muscles to the outside aspect of your elbow area.

It is usually associated with lack of forearm strength.

Lateral epicondylitis most often occurs in women between ages 30 and 50.

The tennis backhand stroke, which involves repeated wrist extension against resistance, increases the risk of symptoms at the outside of the elbow.

Conservative treatment should include physical therapy, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction of repetitive activity.

In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is seen most often in women between ages 40 and 70.

It is often seen in combination with other shoulder conditions (such as rotator cuff problems) or diabetes mellitus.

The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is decreased range of motion and severe shoulder pain.

It often disappears on its own.

Conservative treatment usually involves taking anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation.

A physical therapist can teach you stretching exercises to help maintain as much mobility in your shoulder as possible.

Relief of symptoms is gradual and recovery takes from 12 to 18 months, on average.

Surgical options for adhesive capsulitis include joint manipulation under anesthesia and capsular release.

Take a Break

Overuse injuries usually require you to suspend activity.

A biomechanical analysis and correction are components to successful recovery and should be performed by sports medicine professionals.

Prevention is also a key component by maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Core training and strength training of both the lower and upper body can maintain muscular strength and endurance, and help to prevent chronic overuse injuries.

Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk: Eat a Low-Risk Diet, Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

It’s not a new formula, but a new, large study shows that almost 4 of 5 heart attacks may be preventable in men who adhere to 5 healthy habits.

Combining 5 low-risk behaviors – eating a healthy diet, consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, not smoking, being physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight – may prevent almost 80% of myocardial infarctions (MI) among men.

“Adherence to a combination of healthy dietary and lifestyle practices may have an impressive impact on the primary prevention of MI,” state the authors, led by Agnetta Akesson, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

The researchers set out to examine the benefit of combined low-risk diet and healthy lifestyle practices on the incidence of MI in men.

They conducted a population-based, prospective cohort study of more than 20,000 Swedish men, aged 45 to 79 years, who completed a detailed questionnaire on diet and lifestyle at baseline in 1997.

The men who had no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol levels were followed through 2009.

5 LOW-RISK BEHAVIORS

Low-risk behaviors included 5 factors: a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, being physically active (walking or bicycling 40 or more minutes a day, and exercising 1 or more hours a week), and having no abdominal body fat.

During 11 years of follow-up, the researchers found 1,361 incident cases of MI.

The low-risk dietary choice together with moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a relative risk of 0.65 compared with men having 0 of 5 low-risk factors.

Men having all 5 low-risk factors compared with those with 0 low-risk factors had a relative risk of 0.14.

“This combination of healthy behaviors, present in 1% of the men, could prevent 79% of the MI events on the basis of the study population,” the authors state.

The incidence of MI decreases with the number of positive behaviors in both healthy men and in those with hypertension and high cholesterol, they note.

In conclusion, the authors state “almost 4 of 5 MIs in men may be preventable with a combined low-risk behavior regimen.

Further studies are needed to develop population-based strategies to promote healthy behaviors that can be introduced early in life and maintained throughout the life span.”

In an editorial, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, stated that this study adds to previous reports “…by evaluating a large, contemporaneous study population enrolled from the general community.”

Dr. Mozaffarian noted that “substantially lower MI risk was seen with adherence to very basic lifestyle behaviors.”

LOWER RISK BY 20% BY EATING HEALTHFUL FOODS

For example, eating a diet richer in minimally processed, healthful foods was associated with a nearly 20% lower risk.

“These healthful diets were neither extreme nor exceptional, but reasonable and consistent with dietary guidelines (about 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 daily servings of whole grains and 2 weekly servings of fish).”

He emphasized that the benefits were related to higher intakes of more healthful foods, not lower intakes of unhealthy foods.

The researchers reported their results in the September 2014 issue of The Journal of American College of Cardiology.

Modest Alcohol Consumption Lowers Semen Quality

Drinking modest amounts of alcohol may affect the sperm quality of young men, according to a new study.

“Young men should try to avoid habitual alcohol intake of more than 5 units weekly and especially more than 25 units weekly, which may be beneficial not only for their general health but their semen quality as well,” said Tina Kold Jensen, Professor of Research at the Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.

One unit of alcohol was defined as the equivalent to 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, or 1 shot of alcohol.

“We also found that increasing alcohol consumption the week preceding the visit was associated with changes in reproductive hormones, especially a significant increase in serum free testosterone and reduction in sex hormone binding globulin,” Dr. Jensen said.

HEALTHY YOUNG MEN AND THEIR ALCOHOL

This appears to be the first study among healthy young men with detailed information on alcohol intake.

Dr. Jensen said, “Previous studies have not found adverse effects of low alcohol intake (more than 5 units per week), however, they only assessed average intake.

We assessed daily intake the week preceding the semen delivery.”

She added: “We think we found a strong association because we asked the men about intake last week and then extrapolated to a normal week.

We know that normal sperm take 3 months to mature.

Normal consumption is a better marker than just last week’s consumption.”

STUDY RESULTS

The cross-sectional, population-based study asked 1221 men to fill out a questionnaire on whether the previous week was a “normal” week of alcohol consumption and then studied the 553 who stated that it was.

These men, age 18 to 28 years, all had undergone a medical examination between 2008 and 2012 to assess their fitness for military service, which is compulsory in Denmark.

Sperm concentration, total sperm count, and percentage of spermatozoa with normal morphology were negatively associated with increasing habitual alcohol intake.

This association was observed in men reporting at least 5 units in a typical week but was most pronounced for men with a typical intake of more than 25 units per week.

Men who had a typical weekly intake of more than 40 units had a 33% reduction in sperm concentration compared with men who had an intake of 1 to 5 units per week.

Binge drinking was not independently associated with semen quality.

“We do not know how much of a direct effect on semen quality was due to the adverse effect of alcohol on spermatogenesis, but we adjusted for other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, diet, and exercise,” said Dr. Jensen.

“But it may be a certain lifestyle associated with alcohol intake that is harmful to semen quality.”

The researchers think that even moderate alcohol consumption could be a contributing factor in the low sperm counts reported among young men.

Whether semen quality is restored if alcohol intake is reduced remains to be seen, they stated.

The researchers reported their results in the October 2, 2014 issue of the British Medical Journal Open.

Improve Your Golf Game by Strengthening Your Core

A golfer’s score ultimately is determined by athletic talent, amount of time devoted to practicing and playing, and level of physical fitness.

If you’re like most golfers, you probably overlook the fitness component and try to get by on natural talent and regular play.female golfer_pic_4

However, the more rounds you play without working on your conditioning, the greater are your chances of injury.

Mike Markee, PT, ATC, instructor of physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis University, has spent time on the senior PGA tour and developed exercise and fitness programs for golfers.

“It is possible to avoid injury and improve performance, especially through muscle strength and proper form,” says Markee.

“The great thing is that the same things that help you avoid injury also will improve your game.”

He recommends 3 things to keep your body in shape for golf:

ONE: WARM UP and KEEP MOVING

There can be a lot of down time in golf, and so it takes deliberate focus to keep moving.

Stretch before, during, and after each round.

If you’re able to walk and the course allows, skip the cart and earn a few miles under your belt by the end of the game.

TWO: STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE

Golfers use the muscles closest to the spine, including hip and shoulder muscles.

This is where the power comes from in your golf swing, and, likewise, a weakness in your core can lead to an unbalanced swing, with some muscles compensating for others.

“It used to be thought that flexibility was most important thing in golf.

Golfers worried that too much muscle would cause them to lose flexibility,” says Markee.

“But, with rise of Tiger Woods and now Rory Mcllroy, we’ve seen that you can develop more power by training the right muscles.

Now we know that strength training and flexibility aren’t polar opposites, and, in fact, core strength training can actually improve your performance.

“From a health care perspective, a muscle weakness in the core or hip is something we can remedy through physical therapy or athletic training.”

THREE: DEVELOP GOOD BODY MECHANICS

Golf’s main injury risk comes from the repeated motions of the swing.

Working with a pro to learn to swing properly can help you reduce forces on the spine due to twisting and rotating and ensure that you aren’t developing bad habits that can take their toll on your back, shoulder, and elbow.

Amateur golfers generate greater sheer force on their spine compared to professionals, Markee notes.

“Usually back pain comes from the twisting that puts stress on the spine,” he says.

“Back injuries from golf are very common.

If golfers lose their spine angle on the back swing, it can increase forces on the spine, causing back pain. The torsion can be damaging if done over and over.”

Learn from a pro about proper swing to develop good body mechanics and avoid pain down the line, and, if you do have pain, consult a physician sooner rather than later to avoid exacerbating the problem.