Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

shutterstock 61626283 Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

When you think of sports injuries, full contact sports like football probably come to mind. However, one of the most dangerous sports in terms of serious injury is not football, soccer, or basketball…it’s cheerleading.

Cheerleading has become so much more than shouting encouraging phrases from the sidelines. Modern day cheerleading features amazing feats of gymnastics and flexibility along with dance and of course, stunts. A basket toss can send a cheerleader flying 20 feet in the air, only to land in the arms of her teammates, if everything goes right. It’s not hard to see how cheerleading can be dangerous.

Even with human pyramids, choreographed gymnastic passes and more, some might not even consider cheerleading a true sport; in fact the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not even include it in their list of sponsored sports. But it doesn’t change the fact that from 1980 to 2013, cheerleading injury rates went up 440%. While compared to other sports, the overall number of injuries is actually low. However, cheerleading injuries are often much more severe, making up 50-66% of catastrophic injuries in female athletes. A catastrophic injury is defined as a severe injury to the spine (including the spinal cord) or brain and may also include skull or spinal fractures.

Most Common Injuries

Cheerleading injuries affect all areas of the body. The wrists, shoulders, ankles, head, and neck are most commonly injured.  Sprains account for more than half of all cheerleading injuries. While ankle sprains are most common, sprains can also occur in the knees, wrists, neck and back.

Back injuries are also common in cheerleading, largely from tumbling and stunts. Back injuries can be caused by twisting and rotating in stunts or tumbling passes and from lifting, catching, or falling during stunts.

Concussions are also becoming increasingly more common in cheerleading. With more evidence of the damage head injuries like concussions can cause, there has now been a heightened awareness of cheerleading related injuries overall.

Prevention

Some of the causes for cheerleading injuries are lack of training (especially with stunts) lack of conditioning and that there is no protective gear for the sport. The best way to avoid injury is to prevent them from happening.

Stunt restrictions

It’s no surprise that stunting causes the most serious injuries in cheerleading. Stunting accounts for 42-60% of all cheerleading injuries. In addition, 96 percent of concussions and head injuries in cheerleading are caused by stunts. Without the proper training on how to toss and catch the flyer, along with practice, these injuries will continue to occur.

Other stunting restrictions include height restrictions in human pyramids to keep them level and increasing the number of spotters during aerial stunts. Mats should always be used during practice, as cheerleading is one of the only sports where more injuries occur during practice than in competition.

Trained coaches

The lack of recognition of cheerleading as a sport has lead to a lack of qualified coaches. Often, coaching is done by a member of the school’s faculty who may not have any experience with cheerleading, or at least not some of the more physically demanding aspects of it. At a minimum, a cheerleading coach should know proper stunt technique, should always supervise practice and should be able to identify the symptoms of serious injury like concussion.

Conditioning

Like any other sport, proper training and conditioning can help prevent injury. First and foremost, stretching before practice and competition can loosen the muscles and help prevent strains, sprains and pulls. Yoga or Pilates can also help cheerleaders improve flexibility.

Strength training can also help prepare muscles for lifting either your body weight or a teammate during stunts. Special attention should be paid to strengthening the back and shoulders are well as the core muscles to help reduce the risk of injury.

Sources:

How To Use Cold Therapy to Heal Swimming Injuries

swimming How To Use Cold Therapy to Heal Swimming Injuries

Swimming is a fun summer pastime as well as an extremely competitive sport. Luckily, swimming has a very low injury rate. The water softens impact and pools are often used for water therapy and rehabilitation. However, if you are a competitive swimmer, there are some potential injury risks. If you do sustain an injury, unlike other sports like basketball or soccer, braces and supports aren’t really an option in the pool. However, cold therapy can help you recover.

Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming is a full body sport that requires a combination of endurance and strength. Because swimming is a total body workout, most swimming-related injuries are overuse injuries. Like with most sports, proper training and conditioning can help reduce your risk of injury. If you find yourself with an injury from swimming, it will most likely be your shoulders, lower back or knees, as these are the most common places for swimming injuries.

Muscle Strain

Even with reduced impact from the water, muscles can still strain or tear while swimming. Most of these injuries occur during high speed swims. In addition to the shoulders, back and knees, muscle strains can also affect hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles and biceps.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

The term “swimmer’s shoulder” refers to shoulder pain in swimmers that usually caused by a combination of overuse and an impingement syndrome or tendonitis. Swimmer’s shoulder causes inflammation in the rotator cuff muscles which lie adjacent to the shoulder. Because the act of swimming involves overhead arm movements, shoulders can also suffer micro-traumas as a result of increased stress on the muscles and joints. This can lead to tendonitis in the rotator cuff, biceps or subacromial. Micro-traumas can be caused by a sudden increase in activity, existing shoulder issues or lack of proper technique.

Swimmer’s Knee

When you swim, your legs help to propel you through the water both by pushing off the wall and by kicking to increase speed. Improper kicking technique can lead to a condition called swimmer’s knee. Swimmer’s knee refers to knee injury caused by stress on the medial collateral ligament, which runs alongside the knee. This injury is most common in swimmers competing in the breaststroke because the ‘whip-kick’ technique used during this style affects the rotation of the medial collateral ligament. Swimmer’s knee, like other swimming injuries, can also be caused by overuse.

Cold Therapy Treatment

If you experience any of these injuries while swimming or after, cold therapy treatment can help ease the pain and get you back in the pool. Cold therapy uses the principles of the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). In the case of cold therapy, it’s ice and compression.

Using cold compression helps to reduce pain and swelling from injuries. The cold slows down the bloodflow to the injury, reducing inflammation. Cold therapy is good for minor injuries like sprains, muscle strains or muscle soreness. While cold therapy helps ease pain and swelling, more severe injuries should be examined by a doctor.

The best way to apply cold therapy is through an ice or gel pack 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs. Apply cold packs to your injury for 20 minutes at a time, taking at least 10 minutes in between applications.

If your injury persists or worsens, consult your doctor; you may have a more serious injury that requires physical therapy and/or surgery.

 

Sources:

http://www.physioworks.com.au

http://www.enjoy-swimming.com/swimming-injuries.html

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/swimming-injury-prevention.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_compression_therapy

http://urcm.rochester.edu

http://www.physiotherapyprofessionals.com

http://www.Medic8.com

 

The Brief History of Knee Braces

At Better Braces, knee braces are a large part of what we do. While knee braces are a common sight in sports, that hasn’t always been the case. It might be interesting to know that the modern knee brace — used to prevent injury — has only been around since 1967.

The late 60s were important for the evolution of knee braces. In 1967, a professor of physiology, Dr. Robert F. McDavid, invented the first lateral knee brace designed to prevent injury or reinjury. His brace provided lateral protection of the knee. Then during the 1967 season and Super Bowl III, Hall of Fame New York Jets’ Quarterback Joe Namath played with a now-famous knee brace. Jack Castiglia of the Lenox Hill Brace Shop with along with noted sports physician Dr. James Nicholas designed the brace. This allowed Namath to keep playing despite being plagued by knee problems. Namath’s knee brace was so iconic that it is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During the 1970s, more prophylactic knee braces began being tested and tried by more NFL players in an effort to reduce career ending knee injuries. It was an NFL player who gave us our start.

In 1978, Philadelphia Eagles football player Mark Nordquist teamed up with two of his friends to explore the possibilities of neoprene. There in his garage in Carlsbad, CA, DJO Incorporated was formed.

The first DJO products were simple sleeves made of sewn-together neoprene that were pulled over the knee as well as the ankle and elbow joints for support. Fast forward to today where knee braces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, designed for all manner of knee injuries and prevention. Whether you suffer from knee osteoarthritis or you’re looking to keep your ACL protected during a football game, there’s a knee brace that’s right for you.

knee brace history The Brief History of Knee Braces

 

Sources:

http://www.tribstar.com/features/x681779334/ISU-prof-invented-first-lateral-knee-brace-designed-to-prevent-injury

http://origin-www.profootballhof.com/history/release.aspx?release_id=2927

http://orthopedics.about.com/od/kneeligamentinjuries/a/kneebraces.htm

http://www.theknee.com/knee-brace/knee-braces-support/

 

 

Stay on the Green by Preventing Golf Injuries

GolfBB Stay on the Green by Preventing Golf InjuriesGolf is both a competitive sport and a relaxing pastime for young and old. Whether you play professionally or just as a way to unwind, golf is still a sport which can cause serious injury. Most golf injuries come from overuse; repetitive swinging motions that wear on muscles and joints which can lead to injury. However, like with most sports, injuries can be prevented if you have an understanding of what they are and what causes them. Simply a change in form can make all the difference.

 

Common Golf Injuries

Golfer’s Elbow

One of the most common golf injuries is Golfer’s Elbow or medial epicondylitis. Medial epicondylitis is an inflammation of the tendons that attach your forearm muscles to your elbow. Inflammation is caused by repeating the same motions — in this case, swinging a golf club — over and over again.

Lower Back Pain

Another common injury that golfers experience is lower back pain. Back pain can be caused by pulling or straining the muscles in your lower back during your swing or from carrying your golf bag. Also, people who suffer from chronic back pain might have difficulty with their golf game.

Wrist Injuries

Golfers often sustain wrists injuries. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an overuse injury that affects the median nerve in your wrist. The median nerve travels from your wrist to your forearm through the carpal tunnel. In addition to the nerve, the carpal tunnel also contains flexor tendons so when swelling occurs, they put pressure on the median nerve. CTS can be minor to serious depending on the extent of the injury.

Another wrist injury golfers might experience is DeQuervain’s Tendinitis. DeQuervain’s Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the thumb, causing pain in the wrist near where your thumb connects to it.

Other wrist injuries include Wrist Impaction Syndrome, which is caused caused when the bones of the wrist bang into one another during repetitive movements and ECU Tendon Subluxation, which is when the sheath holding the wrist tendon begins sliding around.

Knee Pain

Knee pain and injury has plagued even professional golfers like Tiger Woods. It can be caused by any number of issues including arthritis, a torn meniscus or an ACL tear.

 

Prevention

There are several things you can do prior to stepping on the green to keep your golf game from being impacted by injury.

Warming up might seem a little silly since golf is a lower impact sport, but stretching and preparing your muscles before any sport is recommended. Stretch out your arms, back and legs. Practice your swing, starting off slowly at first to check your form.

If you are finding yourself sore after a round of golf, try conditioning between games. Light exercise like walking or jogging can help to strengthen your muscles, or try an electric muscle stimulator to help you recover from soreness but also build up muscles in your arms, legs and back to reduce your risk of injury.

Make sure your swing isn’t the issue. Swinging a golf club is a full body motion, utilizing multiple muscle groups as you simultaneously turn your body while hitting the ball. Think to yourself: how’s my posture? Are my feet shoulder-width apart? Am I hunching over? Having proper form before you swing can help reduce the risk of injury. When you do hit the ball, make sure your swing is fluid. Don’t try to hit the ball too hard. Harder swings don’t necessarily mean a better game. Work on having a smooth, consistent tempo.

If you’re carrying your own bag, make sure to keep your back straight and use the strength of your legs to lift. This will help reduce the risk of back injury.

Proper footwear is also key. Just like with soccer, having the right cleats is important. Golf shoes with short cleats are recommended. Long cleats can dig too far into the ground, locking your foot down when you swing which can lead to knee injuries like a torn ACL.

With the right preparation, golf can be a fun, relaxing game. Stay safe and keep swinging!

 

Sources:

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00137

http://www.med.nyu.edu/pmr/residency/resources/PMR%20clinics%20NA/PMR%20clinics%20NA_sports%20med/golf%20injuries%20and%20rehab.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/golf/art-20047434

http://golf.about.com/od/fitnesshealth/tp/commoninjuries.htm

http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sports-and-spine-injuries/golf-and-low-back-pain

http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/carpal_tunnel_syndrome_golf

Comeback Stories: Athletes Who Have Overcome Injury

ComebackStories Comeback Stories: Athletes Who Have Overcome Injury

For a professional athlete, nothing is scarier than suffering a serious injury. The consequences of an injury can be anything from missing a few games to never stepping on the field again. However, throughout the history of sports, players have beaten the odds and come back from injury better than ever. While there are many stories of triumph over injury, here are a few of our favorites.

Drew Brees

Drew Brees is one of the most well known quarterbacks in the NFL. But back in 2005, Brees suffered a torn labrum and a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder in the final Chargers game of 2005.

The offseason was difficult for Brees; the Chargers’ offer rested heavily on performance incentives and many other teams were scared off by his shoulder injury. However, the New Orleans Saints took a chance on the proven QB and offered him a better deal.

Brees proved that his shoulder was in great shape from the start. During the 2006 season, he threw a league-leading 4,418 passing yards as well as 26 touchdowns, helping the Saints finish with a 10–6 regular season record and the NFC South division title. Then in 2010 Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Not too shabby.

Curt Schilling

The Boston Red Sox were the source of heartbreak from many New Englanders. Supposedly cursed by trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, the “Curse of the Bambino” prevented the Sox from World Series glory for 86 years. Then in 2004, after being down 3 games to the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, the Sox rallied.

Pitcher Curt Schilling, an standout over the course of the season, injured his ankle in Game 1. With everything on the line, Schilling still started Game 6. Team doctors had stitched a tendon in his right ankle to keep it stabilized. During the game, a small pool of blood starting to form on Schilling’s sock. But despite the now famous “bloody sock” Schilling led the Sox to a Game 6 victory and helped send them to the 2004 World Series, which they ultimately won.

Rajon Rondo

Like other Boston sports teams, the Celtics are often one of the top teams in their league. While on the Celtics, point guard Rajon Rondo was a standout player and one of the stars of the team.

Unfortunately, during Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rondo dislocated his elbow after getting tangled up with the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade. A dislocated elbow would spell the end of the game for most people, but not Rondo. He returned to the court at the beginning of the 4th quarter and finished the game with 11 assists, helping lead Boston to a victory over the Heat.

In 2013, Rondo was voted the starting point guard spot for the NBA All-Star Game. However it was later revealed that Rondo had torn his ACL during the Celtics January clash with the Heat. He would have to sit out the rest of the season.

This past January, Rondo made his return. Despite being a “rebuilding year” for the Celtics, Rondo’s performance continues to improve. On February 2, 2014, in a 96-89 win over the Orlando Magic, Rondo recorded his first double-double since his injury with 19 points and 10 assists. Then in April, despite losing to the 76ers, Rondo recorded his first triple-double of the season with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists.

Kerry Strug

Perhaps one the most famous moments in recent Olympic history, Kerry Strug of the US Women’s Gymnastic team wouldn’t let something like torn ankle ligaments keep her from going for the gold.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA, the US Women’s’ Gymnastic team, aptly dubbed The Magnificent Seven, was on fire. However, on her first vault attempt, Strug injured her left ankle upon landing. Prior to her attempt, her teammate Dominique Moceanu fell twice on her vault attempts, registering a poor score. In order to win gold, Strug would have to not only attempt a second vault but stick the landing.

And stick it she did! Strug landed her second vault on one foot, securing enough points for the US to edge out Russia for the gold. For her inspirational performance, she was invited to meet with then-President Bill Clinton, made several talk show appearances and graced the covers of both Sports Illustrated and Wheaties cereal boxes.

Tiger Woods

Probably one of the most famous golfers of this generation, Tiger Woods stormed onto the scene in 1996 and has been a fixture of the sport ever since. He has won 14 major championships including the Masters and U.S. Open and received numerous awards.

During the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods suffered a double stress fracture and a ruptured ACL in his knee. Despite the injury, Woods was able to sink a 12 foot birdie and force an 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate. Woods prevailed and took home his third U.S. Open title.

Donovan McNabb

Can you play football with a broken ankle? If you’re Donovan McNabb, you can. The now retired all-star quarterback spent 13 seasons in the NFL, most notably with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2002, in a regular season game against the Arizona Cardinals, McNabb broke his right ankle after being sacked. It was originally thought to be a bad sprain, however x-rays later showed he had broken his fibula in three places! After taping the injured ankle, he returned to the game and went 20-25 for 255 yards and threw 4 touchdowns. The Eagles won in 38-14 victory.

Bethany Hamilton

Sometimes, tragedy strikes and an injury becomes permanent disability. Bethany Hamilton was a 13 year old up-and-coming surf star when a tiger shark attack took her left arm. For a surfer, balance is everything but the loss of a limb wasn’t enough to keep Hamilton from the water. About a month after the injury, she was back surfing. By January of 2004, she entered her first competition since the attack and placed 5th. The following year, she was back to form placing 1st in the NSSA National Competition and O’Neill Island Girl Junior Pro tournament.

Besides regaining her status as a top competitor in the surfing world, Hamilton’s story of overcoming the odds made her a media sensation. She has appeared on numerous TV shows from The Biggest Loser to Oprah and in 2004, had her book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board published. In 2011, a movie version of Soul Surfer was released starring Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt.

These are just a few stories of athletes finding the strength to push through injury but there are many more. Share some of your favorite moments in the comments.

 

Sources:

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-athletes-playing-hurt-pictures-photogallery.html

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/845881-the-20-biggest-injury-comebacks-in-sports

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drew_Brees#2005

http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/10709728/tiger-woods-injury-line

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donovan_McNabb#2000.E2.80.9303:_NFC_East_Championship_Runs