What is Sports Medicine? Sports medicine is a sub specialty of the medical field that is somewhat confusing to some people. Because of the fact that sports is not medicine, it is a bit of a misleading term however the term is intended to represent the doctors and other medical staff who are in the practice of treating and diagnosing athletes and sports related injuries. The professionals who are actively involved in the sports medicine field ranges from standard doctors, physical therapists, surgeons, and even athletic trainers and other similar careers. Sports tend to be a highly competitive field, and as such most emphasis is placed upon speedy as well as complete recoveries from any injuries. This could mean that an injury that would take normally 3 months to heal can be reduced to only 2 months using the appropriate sports medicine techniques under a qualified doctor's care. Most doctors who practice sports medicine treat athletes both professional, amateur and often children for the various injuries that occur while playing any sport imaginable. The human body is designed to quickly heal following most injuries if an appropriate treatment is followed, and sports medicine is intended to speed the recovery process as much as possible. Many sports medicine doctors are also actively involved in giving athletes preventive care as well which is designed to reduce the occurrence of many common injuries. Doctors who are interested in sports medicine come from a wide range of fields including cardiology, orthopedic surgery, biomechanics and even pulmonology just to name a few. The exact specialty of the doctor is often quite focused while the majority of patients are all involved in sports in one capacity or another. The roll of the doctor is often to work with the athlete to adjust training procedures to reduce the risk of injury while increasing the skill level of the athlete as much as safely possible. There are some sports medicine doctors who are specializing in treating female athletes while others will treat both female as well as male athletes. Deciding upon the best sports medicine doctor for your needs can involve meeting several doctors before finding someone whom you are comfortable with. Many athletes develop a close relationship with their doctor so that the best possible athletic results are achievable. By working together with training coaches and other athletic professional's doctors in the sports medicine field are able to help athletes achieve the best possible results performance wise, while still maintaining healthy standards in terms of overall health. Achieving spectacular sports results is often meaningless if the athlete is always injured in the process, or if the overall health is neglected and the athlete is unable to continue in their chosen sport. As you can imagine, the number of athletes who only work with a single sports medicine doctor are very slim. Most athletes work with a team of doctors that comprise of various sub-specialties such as surgical, dietary, cardiogologist and anything else that may be needed. Each doctor is responsible for helping the athlete, and this helps to ensure that each doctor is well trained in their specialty. Using a single doctor as opposed to the entire team can greatly limit the options that you have for treatment. However, while an entire team is generally used to treat patients in sports medicine, there is usually a general care doctor who is given the task of heading the team and sending each patient to the specific additional doctors that they need to see based upon their individual needs. This helps to avoid confusion, chaos and other problems from occurring. Over all sports medicine is a fascinating and very necessary field that most can agree is quite helpful for athletes. Reasons for Sports Medicine There are numerous sports that are played all around the world by a wide range of people. Ensuring that everyone is in the best health possible and sports related injuries are treated properly has created a huge need for sports medicine. While it may seem almost trivial to devote an entire practice of doctors to sports medicine there are numerous reasons why it is a wise decision to make. Rather than simply working with doctors who are not widely trained in the specific injuries that can occur from sports related injuries it is possible to work with a sports medicine doctor. These doctors are specially trained in working with athletes to improve strength, as well as help injuries heal quickly and with as few long-term effects as possible. Many athletes are injured each year, and often by specializing in sports medicine, the highly trained doctors can gather information and ideas about how to help prevent the injuries from occurring as well as how to help the injuries heal as quickly as possible. Working with a typical doctor will almost always result in a healed injury but it can take much longer, and depending upon the type of injury can result in your athletic career being over. The job of a sports medicine doctor is to ensure that through appropriate treatment, strength building, and diagnostics that you are not left sitting on the sidelines. Advances in modern medicine have made it possible to narrow down how potential injuries can occur. It is a well-known fact that some sports are tougher on the body than others are, however this inability to all doctors to distinguish what the most serious injuries are often leads them to treating the minor injuries first. A sports medicine doctor is trained to focus on the most pressing injuries first and then worry about those that are not as important. This means if you have an injury to your knee that can affect all of your movement as well as walking on a permanent level they are going to focus more time on your knee rather than the sprained ankle you may have as well. While the idea of sports medicine seems to be solely related to sports and athletes many dancers find relief from sports medicine doctors as well. Because dancing particularly ballet, jazz and modern are not considered sports some are confused about what benefits a sports medicine doctor can offer. However, if you consider that dancing is a very high stress activity that places great amounts of pressure and strain on your body it makes perfect sense to see a sports medicine doctor. Whenever a dancer sustains an injury while doing Pointe work or practicing for a performance, they are almost always referred by the dance master to a sports medicine doctor to help speed the recovery process. Aside from just being a pricy specialty there are so many benefits to using sports medicine doctors that many athletes simply will not use a standard doctor unless they are forced to. The added knowledge and experience that sports medicine training provides to doctors is almost unmatched in terms of treating injuries both with and without surgical means. Looking beyond the initial injury and treating the overall cause as well as the injury is one of the biggest goals and helping all athletes return to full strength is a much needed benefit. Sports Injuries Explained There are several specific types of injuries that are particularly associated with sports and it is especially vital to understand the various injuries so that the appropriate treatment can be sought as soon as possible. Quick treatment for most injuries can really reduce the amount of time it takes to heal as well as the expense associated with treatment, which makes it especially important to determine an injury quickly and begin the recovery process. Acute -- This type of injury is usually associated with suddenly occurring, and often being associated with bruises, fractures, broken bones, blood, ligament strain or breakage and even spinal cord injuries. The exact type of injury is not as important as the classification. Acute injuries require immediate medical treatment to help reduce the pain, as well as begin the treatment process. Some acute injuries such as those associated with sprains and strains need to be bandaged and splinted to prevent further damage to the body and aid in healing. In addition, eye injuries must be carefully treated once the eyes are carefully cleaned to avoid any further damage. Typically, acute injuries are the result of being hit with a ball, hit by another player, or even falling while playing. Additional ways acute injuries occur are possible, and not all injuries are the result of another player on the field. Overuse Injuries -- These injuries typically occur due to extended repetition while engaged in an activity. This can occur in adults or children and while it is possible to minimize this injury through exercise and conditioning, it generally cannot be entirely avoided. Athletes who play sports a lot do tend to experience some form of overuse injury at some point. Some examples of overuse injuries include swimmers shoulder, little league elbow, shin splits and spondylolysis. Each type of injury is typically associated with continuous repetition but most especially in younger children. Plenty of exercises and strength training will usually help to tone and condition the muscles to avoid the problems and injuries associated with the repetition of sports. To help really avoid overuse injuries it is advisable to always warm up carefully before playing, always ensure you are using appropriate equipment that fits properly and also try to limit the number of sports you play at once. For example, try to avoid being involved in more than one activity per season as this can help strain the muscles and joints much faster. Reinjury -- This is the final type of injury that is common amongst athletes. This most often occurs when an athlete pushes recovery to return to playing sports again before they are fully healed. Most athletes who have reinjury problems tend to return to sports before getting the approval of their doctor; however, it is possible on rare occasions that the doctor will make a mistake. Returning to the sport before the injury has fully healed can cause the same injury to progress, and can also cause additional injuries depending on the circumstances surrounding the reinjury. The best way to avoid a reinjury is to carefully allow your body to fully heal upon becoming injured. By following the instructions that the doctor recommends, as well as carefully and slowly re-entering the sports field after recovering from an injury you can greatly reduce the risk of a reinjury rather than making yourself susceptible to another injury so quickly. Tips for Avoiding Sports Injuries While it is not possible to completely avoid all types of injuries, by taking some precautions, it is possible to greatly reduce your risk of injury. However, simply reducing the risk of injury is not a task that is always easy to handle. By carefully following some precautions there are ways that you can avoid injuring yourself. Tip 1. It is best to always ensure you are in the best physical shape possible before you begin playing a sport. Whether you are looking into tennis, football, baseball, or even basketball amongst the numerous sports available, it is best to be in shape. While playing sports will help get you into better shape physically, it is best to be in shape before beginning. Tip 2. Ensure you know all of the rules and guidelines for the sport you are playing. Following the rules can help ensure that you can avoid injury resulting from playing inappropriately. In addition, make sure you play with others who follow the rules as well. If someone else breaks the rules while playing, it increases your risk of injury. Tip 3. Always wear the appropriate safety equipment whenever playing sports. This should be applied regardless of playing a practice, scrimmage, tournament, or even just playing around with friends. The safety equipment exists for a reason and it is very important to help protect you from accidents and injuries. Without wearing the equipment, you are increasing your risk of being injured. Tip 4. Do a through warm up before starting to play. If you are playing on a team, you should play on teams that ensure warm ups are done before the games start. This helps to stretch and slowly warm up your muscles and really reduces the risk of injuries. Skipping a warm up may seem like a great way to make up for running late for a game, but this is a huge risk to your safety. Tip 5. If you are tired, sick or hurting do not play. If you play on a team ensure you tell the coach about any problems that you are experiencing and let them know you will not be playing. You should never agree to play when you are tired because it increases the risk of being injured since you are not fully alert. When you are sick, your body is always in a weakened condition and able to become injured much easier and finally when you are already in pain, you likely already have an injury of some form that needs some time to heal. Tip 6. Ensure that you are getting enough rest. While the idea of playing your favorite sport 24/7 may seem like the greatest idea, it is vital that you get at least 8 hours of sleep a day as well as take frequent breaks to ensure you do not wear yourself out. While training is a vital aspect of sports, getting the necessary rest to allow your body time to heal and recover is just as important. By resting when necessary, you are ensuring that you will have a long and happy sports career whether you are simply playing for fun, playing for a team, or playing professionally. Avoiding injuries is a very important consideration for athletes and by following the tips and suggestions mentioned above it should help to greatly improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury all at the same time. Proper Treatment for Sports Injuries While most people will go see a doctor after any type of sports injury is incurred, there are some that do not require a doctor to treat, and still others need to be treated in the meantime until you can get to a doctor to help the recovery process get started. Quick treatment often means the difference between a 3-month recovery and a 2-month recovery so it is very important to start treating the injury right away. The most common injuries that are suffered are acute injuries. The best way to treat these is to use R.I.C.E. initially then determine if seeing a doctor is necessary. R.I.C.E. is an acronym that is short for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The purpose of each step is different with rest being essential to allow the healing to begin while helping to prevent further injury to the area from occurring. Ice is vital because it can help stop swelling in the injured area, which can help when it comes to diagnosing the injury. Compression is important because it helps to reduce swelling even further as well as provides support for the injury. Elevation is necessary because it reduces the flow of blood to the injured area and allows the force of gravity to pull blood away, thus reducing bruising, swelling and pain. Proper treatment using R.I.C.E. is to first take a piece of cloth such as a town and wrap it around the injury this helps to protect the skin from irritation. Next, you want to apply an ice pack or cold compress directly over the injured area. Using an elastic bandage or even a support bandage to hold the ice in place carefully wrap the injured area snuggly, be careful not to wrap too tightly you are not trying to cut off the blood supply, just hold the ice in place. You should apply ice for approximately 15 minutes every three hours during the day to continue treating. In the event that you cannot decide if seeing a doctor is necessary, use these rules of thumb to assist you. If you see any bone, muscle, cartilage or ligaments then an emergency trip to the doctor is absolutely necessary. If the pain from the injured area seems to be spreading to other areas of the body. If you have a very large amount of swelling in the injured area that following R.I.C.E. is not helping. If you cannot move the injured area at all. If you cannot feel the injured area, or if it tingles or feels very weak and fragile. If your injury has not improved after three weeks of rest. If your injured area has developed a rash, fever, pus, or if it feels hot to the touch. Finally, if you have any doubts about being able to treat the injury yourself then seeing a doctor is as essential as if one of the previous conditions mentioned was visible. You should always seek help from a doctor in the even that you are unsure how to treat the injury. You are not bugging your doctor; rather you are ensuring that you are treated safely and quickly. If ever in doubt, seeing your doctor is advisable to receive the best possible care. If your doctor is unavailable, and the injury is serious, go to the emergency room and see medical help there. Never leave a serious injury without seeking medical help as the condition can worsen causing the need for serious treatment even potentially surgery to become necessary. Questions to Ask When Selecting Your Sports Medicine Doctor Just as cars are not created equally, and neither are sports shoes there are some rather large differences between sports medicine doctors. The good news is this creates huge amounts of diversity; the bad news is that this can create numerous problems with finding someone who is well qualified to treat sports related injuries and help prevent injuries from occurring. To help you find the best sports doctor to help you meet your needs, use these questions as a guideline when you are interviewing doctors. You should first ask your doctor how long they have been treating athletes. This should be at least several years if you are looking for experience, do not expect someone with less than 3 years of experience to be very helpful. If you decide to use a doctor new to the field, be aware that they should be cheaper and willing to work closely with you. It is also wise to ask your doctor if they are currently the official team physician for any teams in your area. If they say yes, ask what teams so that you can contact the coach for a reference. Remember, if the coach does not give a positive reference that is still an excellent opportunity of information. Find out exactly why they do not recommend the doctor you are considering so that you can gather as many facts as possible. Ask your potential doctor if they are a member of any special organizations such as the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine. Memberships into these groups typically require credentials to be verified in order for acceptance, this helps to keep only the better doctors amongst membership ranks. You should also ask if your doctor has attended any specialized training courses. Some examples are the American College of Sports Medicine team physician training course as well as the course that is offered by the US Olympic Committee. If they have not attended any special programs this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth noting for your own piece of mind. A very important question that you should ask is what percentage of the practice is pertaining to sports medicine. Unless the doctor is a sports medicine specialist, you should not expect to hear 100% and even if they are a specialist, they are unlikely to really have a 100% level. Most practices are as low as only 30% Ask if the doctor has any particular specialties. For example, there are doctors who specialize in orthopedic surgery, as well as various other medical fields. If you are just looking for a basic sports medicine doctor then often choosing a family practice or even an internal medicine doctor is the best decision. From the primary doctor that you choose you can receive referrals to other doctors as they become necessary. Your final consideration should be looking for a doctor that is willing to meet with you before you filling out any paperwork. This means that they should be willing to do an interview, preferably free where you can talk to them for a few minutes to learn about them, their experience, and their practice. Many doctors do this, especially those who are pediatricians. This means that your sports medicine doctor should be willing to have an initial interview as well. Using this to your benefit means you can ask your questions and see how comfortable you are before you actually need their services. Using Strength Training for Children What many sports medicine professionals realize that parents do not is that strength training can do so much more for your child than simply giving them muscle mass. Important in helping to ward off injuries as well as building overall strength a proper strength training program can benefit your child both in long term and short term goals. From the very first athletic attempt your child has, to the very last having the strength necessary to execute the sport effectively is one of their single most important needs. Ensuring the proper strength levels can be beneficial in both normal life, as well as the athletic field and provides a great way to children to help avoid injury as well as create healthy strength habits for life. While the exact type of strength training varies from child to child, the far reaching benefits are attainable to everyone. Regardless of whether your child is playing soccer, basketball, football, or even running track or swimming having the proper muscle strength necessary can often help avoid overuse injuries that are so prevalent amongst young children. Forcing the muscles to strengthen up allows the muscles to work harder before an injury occurs. Experts have all agreed the children as young as six can safely work on strength training when closely monitored by an adult. The ability to start strength training at such a young age helps to ensure that while children are busy learning about sports, they are also able to embrace the benefits of proper safety precautions rather than merely learning how to treat injuries. While not all children become huge fans of strength training it is still a wise idea to teach it. Overall, it is very important for the adults involved in strength training to closely monitor the child. The sports medicine doctor working together with a fitness coach can usually advise about the correct amount of time as well as repetitions for each exercise to ensure that the maximum benefits are achieved, without potentially causing the child injury. It is vital to also ensure that your child understands exactly what is expected of them. While the idea of allowing a young child to life weights may not seem appealing to many, it is something that does appeal to others. However, setting limits to the amount lifted, as well as how long is very important to ensure that the child is not injured in any way. Parents can also work with children and a fitness coach to work out the best strength routine for them based upon age, sports, and body type. It is important to only allow a child to engage in strength training with proper supervision both by a doctor and by a knowledgeable trainer. Your child's doctor should be aware that strength training is going to be occurring before your child starts so that a through check up can be conducted to ensure that your child is well enough to handle the rigors of strength training. Other considerations that are very important is the equipment that your child uses. Most sports medicine professionals can agree that while a child is encouraged to engage in strength training they should almost always avoid using the same equipment as adults. Instead, it is vital that children engage in exercises and training that is designed for their smaller bodies. Most children are not big enough to safely use the adult sized equipment. It is essential that you find a gym that can accommodate your child has needs, or consider purchasing small sets of weights for your home. With proper precautions, and careful supervision strength training for children can reduce the number of injuries, increase strength, improve endurance and provide excellent health benefits overall. By focusing on age appropriate exercises and ensuring that your child is properly supervised you can be assured that you are helping your child develop into the strongest possible, while fighting off injuries and other problems. Stretching -- Ways to Avoid Injury and Keep in Shape Most sports medicine professionals can all readily agree that those athletes who take the time to really care for their bodies experience far fewer injuries than those who act reckless with regard to their health. It is really important to remember exactly what a benefit stretching provides when you are trying to decide if spending time stretching is worth it. The exact benefits are almost limitless, however there are some specific benefits that virtually all athletes should experience. Amongst the benefits of stretching there are the improvements to your circulations, range of motions, posture, overall performance and even your ability to relax after working out. However this is not all that stretching provides, it also helps you decrease the tension in muscles and can even assist in reducing overall joint stiffness that can occur after a work out. The overall benefit of stretching is possible to achieve in as little as 10 minutes before starting an actual workout, which makes it very easy to work into any routine that you are exploring. By properly ensuring that you are stretching, you are not only providing the benefits to your body, but you are also able to reduce the number of times you are forced to go to the doctor over an injury. Most athletes would rather be playing their favorite sport rather than sitting in a doctor's office being treated. However, while most athletes would prefer not to spend time being treated, it is still important to seek treatment for all injuries that occur rather than leaving them unattended. With proper attention paid to stretching in addition to an appropriate exercise routine it is possible to greatly reduce the number of injuries that occur. While not all injuries can be avoided by stretching, it can help to reduce the severity of many injuries as well as reducing the overall number of injuries. It is highly important to work with a coach or other sports medicine professional to develop a routing for stretching that is most effective for your individual lifestyle as well as body type. Especially important for athletes is discussing their workout habits and any previous injuries when selecting a stretching routine. By carefully choosing the proper exercises and stretches it is possible to help protect against further injury, and really tailor the workout to your exact individual needs. However, just merely stretching to stretch can sometimes void the benefits if the stretches are not the proper type. For example, if you are a runner and focus more emphasis on stretching your arms you are going to see fewer benefits than someone who stretches their back as well as legs before actually running. Deciding with your sports medicine team the appropriate exercises, number of repetitions and all other pertinent details of your stretching program also helps to ensure that your entire team knows exactly what you are doing, and can make modifications and adjustments based upon what you need as an individual, as well as what you need to improve your overall athletic ability. It is very important to carefully select exercises that are appropriate for your needs at the time of the warm up as well. This means specifically, if you have an injury to your hamstring muscle, you should give it some rest for a couple of days at a minimum. This brings to light the importance of talking to your doctor and learning to listen to your body. If you feel as if the stretches you are doing cause you more harm than they help, it is time to rework your routine and change how you are treating your body. Remember, changing the types of stretches that you do is perfectly acceptable especially when you are healing from an injury. Working to keep your body in the best overall condition possible is your ultimate goal and working towards that goal often means having to make adjustments to a routine, often at the last minute. Carbohydrates the Essential Energy Source Most athletes know and realize just how important it is to get the proper nutrients however many athletes are being drawn into the idea of using low carbohydrate diets as a way to help control weight. Needless to say, the sports medicine field is quite alarmed at this recent trend. The number of athletes that are starting to use low carbohydrate diets is alarming in recent years. Even scarier is the fact that these diets can cause harsh long-term complications such as making weight loss even harder. Carbohydrates are the essential energy source that all athletes need in order to maintain the stamina to work out. Without this vital energy, it is much easier for injuries to occur from exhaustion as well as body strain. This is never an advisable outcome, but sadly, it occurs much more often in recent years. A proper diet for an athlete involves consuming quite a few carbohydrates. Typically, the amount of carbohydrates that are required to be consumed by athletes is much higher than the amount required for people who are sedative. The proper amount of carbohydrates that each athlete needs varies greatly with some requiring much more than others. To determine the exact amount of carbohydrate consumption that you should personally aim for it is important to talk to your sports medicine doctor. There are times when athletes are especially encouraged to increase their carbohydrate intake, this is especially common during tournaments, competitions and if you are engaging in more than one sport at the time. This is to ensure that your body has enough energy to handle the rigors that you are placing upon it during especially strenuous activities. In addition, there are other times when your doctor may recommend cutting back carbohydrate consumption, however all serious adjustments to your diet should be carefully monitored by your sports medicine team to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrients. As the number of fad diets appearing on the markets increases, it is especially important to listen to what your doctor says about your diet. Athletes are recommended to store as much as 15 grams per kilogram of body weight in the form of carbohydrates. This translates into as much as 15 grams for every 2.2 pounds. For an average 180-pound athlete this translates into as much as 1227 grams of carbohydrates. In terms of how carbohydrates are related to calories, it is easiest to use the following conversion. One gram of carbohydrates translates into four calories of energy. This means that for our example of the 180-pound athlete, the 1227 grams of carbohydrates they should consume would equal as much as 4909 calories. This is an enormous number for most people; however, there are some athletes that would require higher calorie intake while other would be able to handle much lower intake levels. Ultimately, it is up to you working with your doctor to determine the best level for your individual needs. Remember, cutting back on carbohydrate levels can be quite damaging to the body. If your body is not consuming enough carbohydrates, then the body starts using protein as energy. This can be dangerous because protein is designed to help fuel your muscles and provide the muscle mass for the body, rather than simply providing energy for the body. The end result for many who are not consuming enough carbohydrates is an overall weakened condition and less energy to actively engage in the sport of their choice. An important consideration is who is giving you the advice on your dietary needs. Many coaches do not always know the most up to date nutrition information. This makes it highly risky to simply take a coaches word about how much you should be consuming each day in calories and carbohydrates. In order to achieve the best results possible you can consult with your coach as well as your doctor to work out the best possible solution that has both your fitness goals, athletic goals and your health goals in mind. Keeping your own personal health as the top priority is vital to ensuring you are as healthy as possible. Remember, it is sometimes necessary to adjust your carbohydrate consumption however; it should always be done with a doctor's supervision to ensure that you are not potentially damaging your body or your overall health. Your physical safety is a much greater consideration that reducing your carbohydrate intake. Choice -- Sports Medicine or Pediatrician Many parents are concerned in their little league athletes seeing a sports medicine doctor rather than an actual pediatrician. However, many of the reasons given for the hesitation are quite unnecessary and can make things more difficult on parents. While the ultimate decision on which type of doctor to use rests firmly in the hands of the parent it is important to ensure you know the benefits as well as drawbacks of both before making a final decision. Most pediatricians have an absolute love of children; however, this is not to say that you cannot find a pediatric sports medicine doctor who also shares this love. In fact, with sports becoming such a vital part of life for so many children the number of pediatric sports medicine providers is increasing steadily across the world. While some parents do not feel comfortable using a sports medicine doctor as a complete replacement for a standard pediatrician others do. The options that are available range from using only a pediatrician, to using a pediatric sports medicine doctor, to using both. The benefits of using both can mean you child lacks nothing in medical care. However, as a drawback you are looking at more frequent doctor's visits as well as the necessity to coordinate records amongst both offices to ensure that both doctors know what is going on. With many sports medicine doctors also specializing in various areas of the medical field, finding a great pediatric sports medicine doctor is possible. Finding a doctor that your child is comfortable with is also possible and can be accomplished with some work and effort placed into interviewing the right doctor. If you are looking into using a pediatric sports medicine doctor, ensure that they are comfortable and do offer all pediatric services in addition to the sports medicine services. There is no point in using a doctor that is to handle all of your needs if you are still forced to see a different doctor to handle basics such as shots, and dispensing any medications that may be necessary. Choosing a single pediatric sports medicine doctor should mean that you are only seeing a single doctor unless a specialist is necessary. However, while seeing a single doctor may be easier because of fewer doctors involved to see it can also be better to see separate pediatric and sports medicine doctors. This is especially common if a sports medicine doctor is in your area that is highly regarded whom only treats sports related issues. In addition, if you already have a great pediatrician that you and your child are both comfortable with, there is no need to switch completely. The choice over which type of doctor to use is quite personal. People have been known to drive several hours so they can keep the same doctor even after moving to a new area. If you have this type of relationship with your pediatrician, then switching to a pediatric sports medicine doctor may not be the best option for you. Never feel as if you must choose between the two. You are free to see whichever doctor you prefer with your child. When working with more than one doctor it is important to ensure that they both know about each other. This is vital so that records can be coordinated especially during treatment to ensure that your child receives the best care possible. Never feel as if you are betraying your child's pediatrician by finding sports medicine doctor as well. Instead, your doctor will be happy that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure that your child is well protected. Regardless of which doctor you prefer for your child to see, the end result should be the same. A doctor whom is concerned about the genuine health and welfare of your child is best regardless of what their specialty is. Never second guess your instincts, if you have a clear preference in what you want for your child's doctor then ensure that you keep looking for the perfect doctor until you find exactly what you want. Appropriate Eating Habits Before Competitions As athletes work to prepare for competitions and tournaments, it is very important that nutritional needs be met. This includes both in eating habits, what is consumed, and when it is eaten. The old saying that you should not eat before swimming is a very real concern for athletes regardless of which sport they are involved in. In order to allow the body to fully convert the good foods that you are eating into energy it needs time. The amount of time it needs varies depending on the exact foods that you are eating but the process is certainly not instant. In order to achieve the best results it is ideal if you break up your eating habits before competitions and try to limit the amount of food that you are eating right before engaging in sports. For example, if you are going to be running track at 10a.m. you should not eat anything after 9:30a.m. unless it is an emergency. This allows your stomach time to start converting the food you consumed into energy. While it is necessary to drink liquids during a work out it is also essential to know what foods are safe before a work out. In order to ensure that your athletic experience goes as smoothly as possible you should always consult your sports medicine doctor for specifics based upon your body type, athletic activity and any other variables that are specific to you. In the meantime, there are some general guidelines that are acceptable to use and can assist in helping you ensure that you are ready to go. Before you exercise, you should look at eating about 4 hours before your exercise. This means a real meal with components from all of the food groups. This does not mean simply snacking on an energy bar, or even an apple. Instead, it should be a complete meal, this may require you to adjust your workout schedule to better coordinate with your eating habits, or if your schedule handles it better adjust our eating habits around your workout schedule. Either way, it is important to eat a full meal 4 hours before your work out. Once you are finished eating it is a good idea to eat a snack or even an energy drink that is loaded with carbohydrates. This gives your body an extra burst. It is best to look into this high carbohydrate snack about 2 hours before your workout. Remember, worrying about the calories you are consuming is not as important as ensuring that you are giving your body the fuel that it needs to function. In addition, about one hour before your workout looking into a sports drink is a really good idea. Following this schedule should have your body well stocked with plenty of energy to handle the rigors of your workout. In the time immediately before a workout or even a competition of any type it is best to stick to small foods that are healthy and offer high amounts of carbohydrates. Examples include fruits, fruit juice, vegetable juices, and even sports drinks are all healthy choices that keep your energy levels full. They are also light enough that they will not cause any problems with your stomach while you are engaged in your athletic activity. In addition to eating the healthy foods, sports medicine doctors also recommend consuming something sugary approximately 45 minutes before any highly strenuous activities. This includes candy bars, energy bars, and even some soft drinks. Keeping your energy levels up is not always a simple task but if you focus more on your energy levels and less on the calorie intake that you are consuming your body will appreciate it once you are moving and using the stores of energy. Remember, limiting the amount of sugar that you consume is best since it only gives you energy for the initial start to the activity. The carbohydrates that you consumed before will provide you with the long-term energy that you need to be successful. With some careful planning it is possible to work with your sports medicine doctor and coach and decide exactly what your best eating routine is to keep you in top notch shape. Importance of Protein for Athletes Doctors, trainers and various other sports medicine professionals are all sure to tell you that eating healthy is part of being a successful athlete. What is not always mentioned is the need and requirement that you actually put forth the time and effort to create a very balanced diet. This includes the use of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, three components that are typically considered bad nutrients. The thinking that is required of athletes not only in training but in nutritional situations is to consider food as a form of energy. Eating the right food can provide benefits to the body in extended energy and better muscle mass, while omitting the vital components can result in muscle fatigue, weakened muscles, deteriorating muscles, and even exhaustion to just mention a few problems. This leaves athletes with the responsibility of working closely with their doctors and coaches to develop an appropriate diet based upon their individual athletic abilities. In order to be successful, especially when doing endurance or strength intensive sports it is important to have the necessary muscle strength to actually perform the activity. If you are not consuming the correct nutrients, you are harming your body. However, there is more to proper nutrition than simply eating a small amount of the nutrients. For example, protein is a nutrient that many people have tried omitting in recent fad diets. The bad news for athletes is that protein is a requirement in order to help build and maintain muscle mass. This results in athletes who cut protein from their diet losing muscle strength as well as mass, which can ultimately alter their performance, strength, and even health in the long term. Because of the benefits of consuming protein for athletes, it is vital that enough protein be consumed to keep the muscles in proper shape. A rough guideline that is standard to use is you need to consume .08 grams of protein for each 2.2 pounds of body weight each and every day. For athletes who are involved in endurance sports the number increases to 1.2 to 1.4 grams per day, and for those athletes who are involved in strength training activities the number jumps to as much as 1.4 to 1.8 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day. In addition to the general guidelines that are set forth there are also times when it may be beneficial to increase protein consumption to assist in a muscle injury healing. When this is a consideration, you should talk to your doctor and get their exact recommendation on the amount of protein you should be consuming in accordance with still keeping an overall healthy outlook and physical routine. It is essential that you always careful discuss your exact protein requirements with your doctor as well as your coach anytime you start a new athletic activity, and especially if you are enduring some especially rigorous training for any reason. It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your body continues to develop and maintain the muscle mass that is needed to sustain the athletic activity of your choice. If you are even considering trying a diet that is low in protein, it is vital that you first discuss the risks with your doctor and consult to see if any other dietary changes could help you achieve the results you wish to achieve by omitting protein. Remember, protein is a necessary component to help you ensure that you are creating and maintaining muscle mass, which is a requirement for all athletic activities. Which muscles you use, and how strong they must be can vary, however having the muscle mass required is essential. Never omit protein from your diet without first discussing it with your doctor. If your doctor agrees that it is wise to reduce or omit your protein intake, ensure that you are following your doctor's instructions quite carefully. Failing to properly follow your doctor's recommendations in regards to your nutritional health can harm your overall health as well. Deciding Which Doctor to See If you have more than one doctor, which many people do especially athletes then it is often confusing exactly which doctor you should see. However, if you follow some simple guidelines you should find the decision much easier. Remember, seeing a doctor is a good idea in the event of an injury, however emergencies are usually best treated in an emergency room with follow up through your normal doctor. You should first consider why you want to go to the doctor. If you have a need rather than just simply a check up then consider exactly what is needed. If you need a simple work up or even a flu shot then seeing a standard family practitioner is usually much easier and faster. However, if you have a sports related injury then it is best to see a sports medicine doctor. As part of your sports medicine team, you are likely to have numerous doctors all working together with a physical therapist, primary doctor and various other professionals including often a surgeon. Your first stop whenever seeing a sports medicine doctor should always be to your primary physician. After visiting with them, they can determine based off your needs exactly whom you should be referred to see next. This also often has the benefit of allowing some treatment options to get started in the meantime, rather than being forced to wait until the specialist can see you. However, it is important to note that if you only see a sports medicine doctor and do not have a standard internal medicine or family physician that you should always see your sports medicine doctor unless they recommend you see someone else. With sports medicine doctors covering a large gamut of specialties it is possible to only use sports medicine doctors if preferred. If you are running a fever, or else have a rash that has appeared, the best doctor to often see is your primary care physician. If however, you have been experiencing leg pain then it is best to see the sports medicine doctor. Anytime you have a problem or injury that has resulted because of sports, or can impact sports it is best to see a sports medicine doctor. In the event that you have a pressing issue that needs immediate treatment, often the decision over which doctor to see becomes blurred. This is because many times doctors have very long waits before being able to secure an appointment. If you discover that this is your problem, you best bet is to check with both doctors and see who can fit you in sooner. If neither doctor is able to see you fast enough, you may be best to see the emergency room in your area and schedule a follow up visit. While not everyone is pleased with seeing an emergency room rather than their normal doctor it is a necessary action at times where there are serious complications or in the event of an emergency. While emergencies may mandate the usage of the emergency room, appointments that are not emergencies should be scheduled with the appropriate doctor to ensure that you receive the best care possible. For example, if you are using a sports medicine doctor and also an internal medicine doctor you should schedule your normal yearly check ups with your internal medicine doctor, as well as your yearly flu shot. However, if you are looking into creating a new exercise program or even starting a new sport then a visit to your sports medicine doctor is most appropriate. As the number of sports medicine doctors offering varying specialties continues to increase the decision over which doctor to choose for visits is likely to become even more confusing, however you are not alone and by carefully considering the purpose of the visit, you should be able to easily determine which doctor is the best choice for your individual needs.
Children at Greatest Risk for Sports Injuries The statistics all around the world are startling; children are much more likely to be injured while playing sports than an adult, even if they are only playing the occasional game. As parents and adults, how can we protect children from the majority of the injuries? There are some things you can do, both as treatment and as preventative to ensure that they are as protected as possible. Your first concern should always be getting a physical check up of your child done before allowing them to actually play sports. This is absolutely imperative to let you know if there are any potential problems that you need to know about. While most children are healthy, there are some children that are not or that are highly prone to injuries. A good doctor should be able to let you know if your child can handle the physical activity of playing a sport. Ensure your child has the appropriate safety equipment. Never allow them to play or practice without it. This can result in serious injuries as well as minor injuries, but it is always best to protect your child by ensuring that safety equipment is always worn. In addition, it is important to ensure that the safety equipment your child uses fits properly. This means that while it may be cheaper to pass down equipment from child to child, making sure it fits appropriately is even more important. Other concerns should be ensuring that the coach your child plays with has been trained in how to interact with children, as well as teach them the rules of the game. Ensuring that all kids playing follow the rules is one of the best moves that coaches can make to help avoid injuries both during practice and during games. Teaching how to cheat will not only rob your child of sportsmanship but also increase the risk of injury immensely. Make sure your child is playing with other children who are around the same size, as well as skill level. Common sense should tell you that a 5 year old should not be playing on the same team as a 15 year old. However, many parents do not realize just how important skill level can be. Having a child who is a beginner playing on an intermediate to advanced level team is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided. Always ask about the skill level of the team before signing up, if the team is too advanced for your child, find a team that is better suited. Before your child starts any sport, regardless of age you should find a sports medicine doctor whom you are comfortable with as well as whom your child can talk to. This is important because many parents must deal with restrictions due to insurance and geographical location. Finding a doctor who is suitable before an injury occurs means you will spend less time waiting to start appropriate treatment in the event that an injury does occur. This also helps to ensure that you start your child on the appropriate foot in terms of preparing to be the safest and healthiest possible while playing sports. As you can imagine, there are always numerous things to look out for in childhood. Injuries in sports just constitutes yet another potential danger, but with careful consideration and close supervision it is possible for most children to enjoy playing sports with very few, or minor injuries. Purpose of the American College of Sports Medicine The American College of Sports Medicine is more than just a nifty name; they are the main organization that is working towards improving the entire field of sports medicine with the overall health of athletes in mind. By taking the ideas and advances in sports medicine and combining them together with the best training and developmental research, the American College of Sports Medicine aims to help as many people as possible regardless of location. Developed in 1954, the ACSM has more than 20,000 members currently amongst its ranks with members coming from all around the world. The American College of Sports Medicine is working in several ways to help improve the overall treatment options that are available to athletes around the world, including the use of their certification programs that range from the type of specialty. It is always recommended to select a sports medicine professional who is certified in the area in which they practice to ensure they have received the best training possible. In addition to the certification programs that are offered the ACSM offers several conferences through out the year in various locations that are geared towards specific specialties. Professionals who are associated with the ACSM are highly encouraged to attend these conferences to help them stay up to date on the latest developments in the field of sports medicine. In addition to working with professionals who are already practicing a specialty in the sports medicine field, the ACSM also encourages students who are still in school and those involved in their residency to start getting involved to ensure they are expanding their education as much as possible. While some may think that the ACSM is useless, many also agree that there are numerous benefits of having a specific group responsible for giving the certifications. Most patients prefer working with doctors who are well qualified, and the American College of Sports Medicine offers numerous benefits because of the continued research in the field as well as extensive developmental opportunities that it offers. In addition, the ACSM is dedicated to helping professionals develop as much as possible simply by making it convenient, with a mixture of campus and online programs offered there is almost no reason why every sports medicine professional cannot be involved in continuing their educational goals. Athletes themselves find the ACSM to be a great resource to them. It provides them a way of measuring various sports medicine professionals to help them determine which is the best provider for their individual needs. By ensuring that a certification method is in place, it allows most athletes and coaches alike to separate the dedicated sports medicine providers from those who are not as experienced and knowledgeable in the field. As each individual provider grows and expands their knowledge of the field, they are usually welcomed to join the ACSM and ensure that they continue to stay at the top of their field. Various methods are always in place for most fields to keep professionals well trained and the ACSM provides this for the sports medicine field. Despite continuous improvements in treatment options available, the American College of Sports Medicine encourages professionals to continue to be the best in their field. However, important to note is that aside from the ACSM encouraging doctors and other sports medicine professionals to continuously further their education it also encourages advances in the field to help new treatment methods develop faster, as well as helping ensure that all treatment methods have the best interests of the athletes in mind whom they are designed to help. Further helping the ACSM is the fact that there are so many resources that are used to help ensure that certified professionals in the sports medicine field stay up to date on all pressing technology changes and new developments. Rather than allowing, all of the professionals to allow their education to take a backseat to their practice professionals are highly encouraged to continue learning as much as possible. Post Exercise Considerations For those in the athletic field it is vital to ensure that while you are fully prepared for an athletic event you also take careful consideration to recover from an athletic event as well. This means you should take care of your body after the activity just as you would before the activity. In many situations it is even more important because you are tired, drained and are lacking some vital nutrients that your body really needs. One of the biggest concerns that sports medicine professionals have is helping athletes restore fluids to the body. This is because most athletes disperse large amounts of fluid through sweating and creates a huge void that must be filled. It is very important that you weight yourself before engaging in any athletic activity and then again immediately afterwards. While you may be excited initially about the weight loss, it is important to realize that you have only lost fluids, and those fluids must be replaced quickly. To rehydrate your body thoroughly it is recommended that you drink as much as 24 ounces of water for each pound of weight that you lost. This will help you to quickly recover the fluids that your body is missing, while still keeping your stomach light enough to handle a brief rest before eating. It is important to notice as well that water is the best liquid to consume; it is not advisable to use sports drinks when you are consuming such a large amount of liquid. After your exercise is over, it is also important to consume some form of carbohydrate within 20 minutes. The best carbohydrates to look into are some form of fruit, or even a natural juice whether it is fruit juice or vegetable juice is entirely up to your and your medical team. Additionally, sports medicine professionals recommend combining carbohydrates with proteins to really speed the energy stores back into the body. The best guideline to use is giving the body 4 carbohydrates for each protein that is consumed. It has been determined that this is the formula that allows the body to recover in the shortest amount of time, while still keeping the intake light enough to not cause any stomach problems. Whether you look towards a solid food or even a special drink that combined proteins and carbohydrates together is entirely up to your and your medical team as well. Remember, consuming additional calories immediately after a workout may seem conflicting however, it is very important that the energy stores of the body be replaced to ensure that you are not causing more harm than good to your body. Lack of energy even following an exercise program can be very harmful to the body if not quickly treated and can also increase the risks of injury, which make it even more harmful. Talking to your medical team can help you determine the exact amount you should be eating both before and after working out to ensure maximum energy supplies and the shortest recharging time possible. If you are concerned that you are still weak or tired after a workout it may be time to consult with your doctor and increase the amount of carbohydrates that you are consuming. The same may hold true if you are experiencing muscle weakness or fatigue following a workout for your protein levels. Never assume that the exact amount of carbohydrate and protein intake levels that work for one person are going to work for you. It is best to instead discuss with your doctor and coach the exact needs that you specifically have so that you can ensure you are creating the best overall health situation possible. Avoiding conversations with your doctor about your health and nutrition needs can be destructive. You need to know exactly what your body requires based upon your individual needs and workout patterns. Taking care of your own individual needs is part of why you have a team of sports medicine professionals all working together. Use them to your benefit for your post workout nutrition. Tips for a Successful Career in Sports Medicine People are always looking for ways in which they can have a highly successful career and there are things that you can do to really increase the chances of being successful. However, if you simply overlook some tips you can still have a fulfilling career while other tips are quite necessary in order to succeed. Working towards a successful career often begins long before you actually start the career, and sports medicine is certainly no exception. One of the first considerations that you should look into is ensuring if you are still in school that you are studying enough science to satisfy the needs of sports medicine. If you are someone, who hates biology class, and tries to figure out ways to avoid other science classes then sports medicine may not be the best idea for you. While sports medicine is not always about treating patients, it is still considered a medical field and someone who dislikes science is not likely to find happiness in the field. However, if you really do want to find a career in sports medicine you need to look into taking as many biology, anatomy and physics classes as your school possibly offers. If you are not in school currently, look for a school that will offer excellent programs in the science fields that are required. If you have already completed your schooling, look and see if your classes that you studied will fulfill the science needs for getting started. If it does not, then it is best to start looking for a school that can satisfy your needs. Another thing that you should closely look into is selecting the medical school you want to attend. Not all schools are created equally. Students who attend the best schools tend to get a higher quality education and are able to translate that higher education into better careers ultimately. You may have to compare prices of schools to find one you can actually afford, but attending the best school you can possibly afford will certainly pay off in the long run. While you are looking for the perfect school to attend, consider which area of sports medicine you are interested in specializing in. Most doctors simply cannot attend to all of the medical needs of athletes; there are far too many specialties to even try so it is best that you look for a school that is excellent in your desired specialty. For example, a school that is highly regarded for their training of traditional medical doctors may not be as useful to you if you are looking into a career in orthopedics or even surgery. Ensure you are training for the correct field that you are really interested in. Look for a residency program that is based in the exact specialty of sports medicine that you are interested in as soon as possible. While all doctors must do basic residency programs, many move on immediately from the residency program into sports medicine. This is not recommended at all, due to the complex nature of the body and the strains as well as considerations when sports are involved it is best to participate in a sports medicine residency program as well before fully starting in the field. This will allow you to maximize your hands on training and get the absolute most possible from all of your education. A career in medicine is certainly not cheap, so do your best to ensure you are putting that education to maximum usage. Additionally, networking can be your best friend, especially for those who are beginning. Whether you offer your services to a semi professional team, or only to the little league team down the road it gives you the opportunity to help people learn who you are, and what you are capable of doing. You simply cannot purchase advertising that is as good for your practice. So volunteer some of your time monitoring games and helping ensure that athletes are taken care of; people will recognize your efforts and are much more likely to use you when they need a sports medicine doctor. Steroid Use Causing Problems in Sports Medicine There are always athletes who feel the need to use steroids while playing sports. While many organizations prohibit the usage, the doctors in the sports medicine field tend to be the real people who are fighting the effects of steroids on a daily basis. Some of the most prevalent symptoms that sports medicine doctors are forced to deal with include mood swings, violent behavior, depression, and psychoses. The good news is that all of these symptoms are reversible with treatment once the use of the steroids stops; however some other conditions are not as easily reversed. The use of steroids can alter numerous systems in the body, and how they react in terms of permanent or temporary is very important in terms of working to treat the effects. As the number of athletes guilty of using steroids is steadily decreasing there are fewer problems that doctors are trying to counter, however the use of steroids is still happening which causes the problems to still persist even if at a slower level. While sports medicine doctors do not typically treat reproductive issues, they are finding themselves engaged in more aspects as the use of steroids can hinder several components. For example, in men it can alter the libido, as well as cause male pattern baldness and even cause impaired spermatogenesis amongst the other problems that include testicular atrophy and gynecomastia. However, of all of the problems, only male pattern baldness is entirely non-reversible with treatment. However, there are times when even gynecomastia is unable to be successfully treated once steroid use has been discontinued. Women tend to have greater reproductive problems with the use of steroids with the risks causing problems with menstrual cycles, an altered libido, deepened voice, pattern baldness, and even clitoral enlargement. The good news is that the libido as well as menstrual cycle can be restored, while the other results of steroid use at this point are not a reversible complication. This means that each year, women who stop taking steroids are still left with the results to deal with, much more so than men are. Steroids also have the unfortunate problem of negatively affecting the cardiovascular system, which in athletes much be as healthy as possible in order to achieve the best results. With increased LDL cholesterol levels, reduced HDL cholesterol levels, as well as complications with hypertension, elevated triglycerides and even the potential of arteriosclerotic heart disease the use of steroids has several devastating effects on the athletes overall health. While there are rare and few doctors who will encourage the use of steroids, a well trained doctor will be able to identify signs that an athlete is using steroids and will do their best to help discourage their usage. While obviously the final choice on using steroids lies with the athlete, a good sports medicine doctor should be able to identify based on signs, which athletes are using. Because of the risks associated with the cardiovascular system as well as musculoskeletal system, using steroids can actually cause more harm to the body than it can provide in benefits. In addition to the complications associated with the cardiovascular system that were already discussed, it can create complications with tendon degeneration, which is potentially not reversible. This creates a huge problem with weakened tendons that are much more susceptible to injury even after steroid use has stopped. Overall, steroid use represents a huge problem to sports medicine doctors all around the world. Sports Medicine Ventures into Magnetic Therapy As research all around the medical field continues to expand, the number of doctors who are looking closely at magnetic therapy continues to grow as well. With side ranges of benefits that can help those in pain without the use of medications, heat or ice this is starting to look like one of the best treatment options available to athletes regardless of the injury. While not everyone is suited to use magnetic therapy, those who have tried it so far have been highly successful and enjoyed the quick results. Physicians in all medical fields have been studying the effects of magnets on pain, and now the sports medicine field is paying especially close attention. When studying how something can change the healing process sports medicine professionals are always looking at the athlete's health first. Using magnets instead of medications has several benefits including the fact that there are no drugs used when treating injuries with magnets. This reduces the risk of detrimental side effects and also helps to ensure that the athlete is fully alert, rather than groggy from taking pain medications. It is important however to note that the magnets that medical development is using, is not the standard magnet that you find on your refrigerator. Instead, medical technology is developing biomagnets that are much more effective, and offer the maximum benefits. In addition to treating simple sore areas from injuries, magnets are being used in research to determine their ability to help ease the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome as well. The potential benefits to pain treatment are incredible. Through the continued research into magnets as well as sports medicine fields it seems that the use of magnets is highly anticipated. Doctors have suggested that using the appropriate magnet can reduce healing time for many injuries by as much as half. These types of results are simply phenomenal in a field where quick recovery can mean the difference between a sports career, and sitting on the sidelines watching. At this time, the number of doctors actively involved in the research of biomagnets if relatively small, however with growing numbers appearing it is a trend that is expected to grow even more in the coming months and years. Many are hoping that the use of the biomagnets will replace all standard heat and ice treatments that athletes are forced to use currently to help speed healing to injuries. While the use of magnets at this point is highly limited, there are many who are carefully watching developments for encouraging signs. Regardless of sport, magnetic therapy has proven to be a highly effective and versatile treatment option that doctors have to use. With magnets used in various methods, including bracelets and wraps there is almost no limit to the type of injury that is expected to be treatable using magnetic therapy. Sports medicine doctors particularly are looking at the research as highly encouraging because of the vast amount of injuries that they see yearly. In the meantime, while research continues unfortunately most athletes are forced to continue using the methods of heat and ice to help promote faster healing for their injuries. Once the research is developed further, we can expect that it will be widely available to all athletes, as well as non-athletes alike. From start to finish, magnetic therapy has offered a peek at a much easier and smoother treatment option and while research continues to suggest it is right around the corner there are many who are anxiously awaiting. For those who are able to see benefits of magnetic therapy now, the results are amazing and provide immediately lower pain levels regardless of whether the pain is from the knee, neck, arm, back, shoulder, or anywhere else. Using the small magnets is a wave from the future and the sports medicine field is anxiously awaiting to see what other great developments are unraveled as the research continues into this important pain relief treatment. Discovering Hyponatremia and Preventing It! How many people really know without reaching for a dictionary what hyponatremia is? The bad news is that most people are unaware of what it is, yet it is a very dangerous condition that occurs quite often. Much more often than it really should in fact. To blame for the heightened occurrences is the fact that most people do not understand the proper fluid levels that should be maintained during exercise. This is particularly important during those exercises that are quite intensive such as marathons and endurance activities. Hyponatremia is so important because it involves the blood sodium levels in the body. It is important that these levels be maintained in a proper proportion in order for the body to remain healthy. If the levels are adjusted through extreme sweating or even an over abundance of water consumption then Hyponatremia can occur which creates several problems. If you are seeing a sports medicine doctor and discussing participating in an endurance activity be sure to thoroughly ask about hyponatremia so that you can avoid it as much as possible. Hyponatremia is important because it occurs when sodium levels are greatly decreased. This occurs in the normal process of sweating. However, creating the actual problem is when athletes consume large amounts of water continuously, which further reduces the ratio of the blood sodium levels. This lowered ratio is what creates the problems of hyponatremia. However, the solution is sometimes quite easy, but unless you have discussed the problem with your doctor, you are unlikely to know. Symptoms of hyponatremia are as subtle as a nauseated feeling, some small muscle cramps, possibly being disoriented and even a bit confused mentally. This is quite often mistaken for just simply being dehydrated which will prompt many people to reach for more water to drink, which ultimately makes the problem much worse. Extreme cases of hyponatremia include symptoms such as comas, seizures and in the most extreme cases, death is possible. In order to really prevent and treat hyponatremia it is vital that you drink a sports drink that contains sodium, or else eat a food with sodium especially higher levels of sodium to quickly restore the proper levels to the body. In addition, cutting back on the plain water consumption until sodium levels are higher is also advised. If you are having severe symptoms, it is best to see a doctor immediately, preferably a sports medicine doctor who is knowledgeable about treatment options. In order to prevent hyponatremia there are a few things that you can easily do. The first is ensuring that you are keeping a sports energy drink on hand to continuously drink. While drinking water is important as well, the sports energy drink will help replenish sodium levels while the water will flush more sodium from the body. If you do not have hypertension discuss with your doctor increasing your sodium intake levels for a few days before the endurance event. Only increase your sodium levels under the watchful eye of your doctor or you could create problems with hypertension where none previously existed. Additionally, it is best to always drink plenty of fluids. The best guideline to use is a cup of fluids, which is 8 ounces for each 20 minutes of activity. If you are engaging in an hour-long endurance activity that would translate into 3 cups of fluids. Additionally, it is best to only replace fluids that you lose. This means that you should avoid adding additional fluids to your body that are not needed. For example if you lose 2 pounds from fluid loss, you should replace the fluids that were lost. This would not mean drinking more than 4 cups of fluids at a maximum to replace the missing fluids. With proper precautions, you can avoid having a problem with hyponatremia and instead enjoy participating safely in the endurance activity of your choice. With careful medical treatment and proper prevention, it is not a problem that will force you to stop engaging in sports; rather it can make you more aware of your bodies' nutritional requirements. Using Caffeine to Your Benefit Athletes are always looking for ways to improve upon their performance and doctors are always looking for ways to help athletes. In this world the amount of time and research that is put into helping achieve ultimate athletic goals is huge and those who are continuously working on research and development are always looking for ways to help athletes squeeze the last remaining drops of energy into an activity. One such way to gather a small boost is to consume some small levels of caffeine. While it is not advisable to set off running a marathon with only caffeine as your energy source, using it to help jump start your body is a wise idea. Only a small amount of caffeine can get you started while your body allows time to properly process carbohydrates that take longer to convert into energy. The ultimate result is the ability to go farther, longer and faster. Caffeine overall offers several benefits to athletes as long as it is used merely as a supplement rather as a sole energy source. These benefits include helping delay fatigue, increase body fat losses, improve overall athletic performance and even helping give a short burst of energy. Other benefits include helping increase fat burning due to the increased metabolism that is a result of caffeine. The bad news about caffeine is that many athletes try to rely on it as the sole source of energy for athletic events and activities. This is almost always a sure recipe for disaster and will almost always result in the athlete being injured or running out of energy and being unable to complete the activity prematurely. In order to truly gain benefits from caffeine usage it is important to still consume appropriate levels of carbohydrates as well as protein. One thing that you can do to help ensure that you are giving your body the most energy possible is to combine the use of protein, carbohydrates, and caffeine together. By ensuring that you keep the levels appropriate, you can keep the caffeine supplying your body with energy until the carbohydrates have been broken down, while the protein keeps your muscle mass firmly in place. This is a winning combination that has helped numerous athletes achieve the results that they desire. However, it is best to keep your caffeine levels as low as possible so that you do not become dependent on the caffeine to provide you with all of your energy needs. This can be a very dangerous and risky problem if you are consuming too much caffeine and not enough carbohydrates. Rather than carbohydrates providing you with the necessary long term energy you may be using only short term caffeine energy which is ultimately unacceptable for long term usage. Many doctors recommend avoiding the use of caffeine entirely to keep athletes from relying heavily upon it. Talking to your doctor can help you determine the exact amount that is suitable for your situation and based upon your overall athletic goals. You may discover that you are consuming enough carbohydrates at appropriate intervals that make caffeine an unnecessary need for you. Additionally, you may discover that you are not consuming enough caffeine to achieve the maximum potential that you have. Talking to your doctor will help you determine exactly how much caffeine you need, and when the optimal time to consume it is. This is the best solution that athletes have to use caffeine to their benefit while keeping their overall energy levels in top condition. If you are unable to see your doctor immediately your coach may be able to offer some guidance in the meantime to help you move towards the most successful results possible. Remember, each person is different and the optimal caffeine intake is going to vary depending upon body type, energy levels and activity engaged in. Seek out your perfect caffeine level to achieve the results you want. Combating Muscle Fatigue Athletes from amateur to professional level all experience muscle fatigue at some point. The people who tend to suffer the most however are surprisingly those who are less active. Many regard professional athletes as much more likely to have complications with muscle fatigue, however in terms of how the muscles use energy those who are less active than professionals are at a distinct disadvantage. It is very important to understand that when you are working out, you are slowly wearing down the muscles and burning all of the energy that is provided to the muscles as well. Because of the energy that the muscles burn not being able to be replaced into the muscle quite as quickly as it is burned this causes muscle fatigue to become a problem. Sports medicine professionals are all well knowledgeable in exactly how to help professional athletes reduce the problems they experience from muscle fatigue. In order to really combat the problems of muscle fatigue and keep it from happening, it is important to train the body to supply energy faster. Muscles receive energy in two different forms. The first is from oxygen, which creates aerobic metabolism; this is simply the process of creating adenosine triphosphate from oxygen. The other method is anaerobic metabolism, which is generated from stores of energy that are stored in the muscles themselves. The problem that occurs most often in muscle fatigue is that anaerobic metabolism does not store huge amounts of energy and aerobic metabolism is a slower method to deliver energy to the muscles. This creates a problem for many people and results in them suddenly experiencing muscle fatigue. Professional athletes and those who are highly active are trained to help their bodies deliver energy from oxygen, which is the aerobic metabolism. By training the body to efficiently and effectively deliver larger amounts of oxygen to the body it is possible to increase quickly the amount of energy that the muscles have available to use. This reduces the risk of muscle fatigue and allows a workout to continue for much longer. However, it takes several weeks or even months to train the body to effectively speed the flow of oxygen enough to keep from experiencing muscle fatigue based solely from a supply of aerobic metabolism. In addition to learning ways to improve the flow of energy, it is also important for athletes to learn ways to reduce the use of muscles as much as possible to conserve energy. It is vital that energy management be controlled for athletes because without the control management many athletes would find themselves unable to workout or even complete their workout. This is never an advisable situation for any athlete; however, it can occur quite often. In order to combat the symptoms and maximize the benefits of muscle energy it is important to work with your sports medicine physician as well as your trainer to ensure you are training your body to be as effective as possible. If you are careful and work closely with your trainer, coach and sports medicine doctor you can gather the best ways to encourage your body to conserve energy, while still increasing the flow of aerobic metabolism to your muscles. Working towards an appropriate training method will help ensure that your muscles are as strong as possible and greatly reduce the risk of having a problem with muscle fatigue. There is plenty of professional help who can assist you in creating the best training plan possible to strengthen the muscles. Providing the maximum amount of energy to your muscles possible is the best thing you can do in order to ensure you stay as healthy as possible, with as little risk of injury as possible. It is very important that you always discuss any concerns that you have with your doctor or coach. They can assist you in assuring that you take the proper precautions to ensure your body is carefully trained. If you have any doubts about your overall health, it is essential to talk to your doctor immediately. Exposing Shin Splints One of the harshest and most painful injuries that people suffer from are shin splints. While a relatively minor injury that does not involve surgery to correct, it does require plenty of rest and careful training to help prevent the injury from becoming worse. Taking a few minutes to acquaint yourself with shin splints and how they are caused can help you to avoid these painful little injuries and ensure that you are not suffering downtime because of them. A shin splint in its simplest form is when the muscles and tendons of the lower leg pull away from the tibia. It is possible to have a shin splint that results in muscle and tendon damage to the fibula as well; however, this is much less likely since shin splints usually are associated with pain in the front of the lower leg, rather than the side. Shin splints are typically caused by overstraining the muscles along the front of the leg. Running, dancing and various other activities can cause the muscles stress and fatigue, however it is weight that is sometimes blamed for shin splints. It is important to notice that rather than weight being the factor that determines shin splints, it is instead the impact of the weight onto the legs and muscles that cause shin splints. Because of this, it is possible for someone who weights 80 pounds to experience shin splints, just as someone who weights 300 pounds can experience shin splints. Some of the methods that can really agitate the muscles are running or exercising on extremely stiff and hard surfaces such as concrete for prolonged periods of time, exercising or running on ground that is uneven causing additional strain on the muscles at times and even wearing shoes that do not fit properly can cause additional strain. Other factors that can increase the risks of shin splints include running or exercising uphill or downhill frequently and even starting an exercise program after a previously sedative lifestyle. Avoiding shin splints may seem like an impossible task, however with some careful consideration paid to how your body functions and how you take care of yourself, it is possible to reduce the number of shin splints that you get. Remember, prevention should always be your priority, so that you reduce the time you spend healing after an injury. Your first consideration should be your shoes. Having the wrong shoes can be a huge mistake. Whether they fit wrong, are they are just of poor quality having the wrong shoes is like pulling the muscles from your leg yourself. Ensuring you always wear shoes that fit appropriately and provide the support and cushioning that you need can ensure that you are reducing your risk. Additionally, you should never wear tennis shoes to play basketball if you play frequently for example. Sports that you play quite frequently you should invest in the appropriate shoes that are designed to support your feet properly during play. History of Sports Medicine Sports medicine was initially coordinated in the ancient areas of Greece and Rome where many of the young athletes were not being properly trained. Striving to improve this training and provide better overall supervision of the young athlete's physical education was designed. This coordination of physical education was used to help increase the strength and abilities of the athletes in a carefully controlled way, which would allow their progress to be carefully monitored. In events as far back as the 5th century, it is possible to notice distinct training to help discourage injuries starting with such people as Herodicus, whom is credited with using therapeutic exercise to help heal injuries, and also Galen who was a doctor that was assigned to monitor the gladiators of the 2nd Century. Previous attempts at using a doctor for preventative training was largely ignored with physicians and doctors only being used in the event that an injury did occur. However, despite these efforts it was not until many years later that Sports Medicine itself was actually conceived. During the 1928 Olympics, which were held in St. Moritz a small committee was formed with the task of organizing the International Congress of Sports Medicine. Upon this concept, the idea of using actual doctors to help prevent the occurrence of injuries was brought to light. Starting in 1968 during the Summer Olympics, which were held in Mexico City, Dr. J.C. Kennedy organized a team of doctors that was to travel with the Canadian athletes to ensure they were well cared for. In addition, Dr. Kennedy became the founder of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Kennedy earned the honor of being appointed to be the Chief Medical Officer for the first medical team to be officially associated with the Olympics in the 1972 Summer Olympics that were held in Munich, Germany. This was a task that proved even the Olympics were starting to place value in the idea of sports medicine. As time has progressed the involvement of physicians and doctors in more than just treatment of injuries has increased. Many athletes see doctors regularly for check ups and testing to ensure that they are in the best physical shape possible, while still achieving the athletic goals that they desire. While the use of a sports medicine team by many is still considered a luxury, for others it is an essential aspect of being a responsible athlete. As the amount of care provided to athletes before injuries occur has increased, the number of injuries that are being treated has decreased which leads to a better quality of life for many athletes. Deciding to be proactive in the treatment options of athletes is part of what sets sports medicine apart from many other fields. Rather than waiting until an injury occurs, sports medicine aims to continuously minimize the risk to athletes to achieve the best results. Sports medicine has come a very long way in recent years, and continued research and growth in the field is abundantly clear. Most athletic teams travel with a team of doctors, and most athletes particularly professionals are all eagerly willing to work with a well qualified sports medicine team to improve their health. From reduced injuries to improving performance results, the field of sports medicine has made incredible progress since the beginnings in Ancient Rome and Greece. What the Future of Sports Medicine Holds As sports medicine has developed over the years, the ideas of how to study and analyze both the athletes and their injuries has increased as well. As time progresses even further, this study is increased as new advances in medicine, training methods and even treatment options are further explored. What seems like science fiction now can very well become a real treatment in the future. The idea of sports medicine is very unlikely to waiver. The primary reason being sports are such an integral part of life that most people simply cannot imagine their lives without them. This creates the need to continuously improve upon treatment options for injuries, and also leads to even further research and development required to help reduce the number of injuries that are experienced. While many forms of medicine are simply studying the treatment options heavily, and relying less on preventing problems sports medicine is focused on the long term commitment to athletes by reducing the risks of injury overall through proper training and fitness. Continuously working to improve fitness and training techniques has ensured that regardless of the treatment options offered, sports medicine has secured itself a very safe home in the medical field. With thousands of new athletes each year starting sports there are always new injuries, as well as new considerations to take into account. These differences can often be a huge aspect when compared to the age of the athlete. Children tend to have more injuries at times, which is due to underdeveloped bones and muscles, while adults tend to have more serious injuries and take much longer to fully heal. Combining all of the current research with the developments in surgery, fitness, and dietary fields allows sports medicine to continue to grow and encompass the majority of the athlete's life. The desire to play sports for many is not simply a hobby, so selecting a doctor that views it as merely a hobby is unwise. Doctors in the sports medicine field are usually highly dedicated to their work. Putting forth diligent effort to reduce the amount of time to treat injuries, and helping improve the body following an injury are all continuous processes that undergo essential development. Some of the biggest breakthroughs of recent sports medicine will eventually be classified as obsolete and new, exciting techniques and principals will replace them. Deciding how to carefully advance the research is in the hands of the well-trained doctors who have made it their life's work to help each and every athlete improve their overall health and fitness levels. From studying exercises to make small adjustments for a positive impact on the entire body, to making slight changes in the way surgery is performed to allow faster recovery times, to even increasing the effort put forth to ensure all athletes are following a healthy diet there is plenty of room for improvements and advances. In addition to studying the body of the athlete themselves, sports medicine is starting to encompass the rules and structure of games themselves. For example, after a recent study of softball it was determined that breakaway bases should be used to help protect the players. This one small change was estimated to help reduce athlete injuries by as much as 90%. As you can see, sports medicine is encompassing so much more than simply traditional medical aspects as it moves towards the future. Next, you should always carefully warm up before ever starting to play. This will allow your muscles even those along the tibia to slowly stretch and become more fluid before moving into faster and more stressful movements. This is an essential step that cannot be missed. Additionally, carefully checking where you are exercising is another way to prevent shin splints. Avoid exercising on concrete and other extremely hard surfaces. Choose gyms that offer suspended floors under equipment and choose grassy areas that are flat, rather than riddles with holes and slopes. Your last step should be to engage in a strength and conditioning class. Generally, this short class lasts about 20-30 minutes and helps to slowly and carefully strengthen all of the muscles in your body. Remember, prevention should be your best friend.
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