Sprains: A Common Injury in Young Athletes

Sprains: A Common Injury in Young Athletes

Out of all youth injuries that are related to playing sports, sprains and strains are by far the most common. The two injuries are similar in type – they are both either warped stretches or tears. The difference between them is that a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, while a sprain is the damage of a ligament.

Sprains are most often caused by trauma, such as an acute overstretch from a sudden twist or turn. These injuries are commonly seen in ankles, but any ligament can be affected. There is no way to prevent sprains with 100 percent certainty, however there are steps that can be taken to reduce the odds of one occurring.

Get into the habit of stretching properly after each workout session. Do not do so beforehand as the stretching of cold muscles can do more harm than good and can inhibit strength gains. Stretching not only improves the flexibility of the muscles, it also improves the flexibility of the connective tissue, including ligaments. You should also incorporate exercises into your routine that improve balance. Since impact or stretch trauma are the two primary causes of sprains, improving your balance will reduce your risk of falling or having to overcompensate in order to avoid doing so.

If a sprain is not treated correctly, or is left untreated, it can potentially lead to lasting problems. For example, an untreated wrist sprain can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, which may require surgery to correct to prevent the condition from resulting in significant, lasting nerve damage. If your child has been affected by a sprain, it is imperative that you seek proper treatment. Determining the severity of the sprain is vital, as this will affect the treatment regimen.

Should you have any further questions on sprains, or if you suspect your child has a sprain, please give us a call.

Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Having “bad knees” is a common complaint for patients of all ages. But there are many reasons for knee pain no matter how old you are, and seeing a doctor is certainly recommended to diagnose the cause. While proper treatment is crucial to motility, remaining in an active lifestyle is equally an important pursuit to help ensure longevity of your overall health. In fact, exercise can help stabilize the knee and alleviate some pain issues born of stiffness or due to lack of activity, but exercise can also aid in warding off major health problems such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Of course, the best exercises for knees certainly depend on the source of individual pain, but in general, there are some low impact options that are kinder to compromised knees that can keep you active while you continue to manage or treat your knee pain.

  • Walking for low impact. If arthritis is causing you knee pain, walking might be the solution for you. In fact, a regular walking routine can reduce stiffness and inflammation and won’t generally contribute to worsening chronic conditions. According to the CDC, walking keeps your heart and bones strong and joints working as you age. Just try to build strength and endurance slowly, listen to your body as you limit exercise time and make walking on softer surfaces with flat, flexible athletic shoes a priority.
  • Swimming for cardio. Swimming is an enjoyable activity that’s good for almost everyone–and a great calorie-burning exercise. It alleviates weight placed on the knees and joints, while allowing movement with less pain. Swimming also has the ability to work all your muscles, toning the back, strengthening the stomach and working out arms and legs. For some extra training, many gyms with pools offer water aerobics classes that provide the benefit of a weights or resistance workout without the added pressure on your joints you’d have in a traditional gym session.
  • Try the elliptical.  If you belong to a gym, or are in the market for some home equipment, the elliptical machine is a great option as well. It enables the same motions of running without the impact on the knees. The great thing about the elliptical machine is that it works out arms, too, giving full body benefit while allowing you to decide how long or how hard to train. Additionally, if you’re recovering from a knee injury, it can even improve your knee health by providing an opportunity to build leg strength through the use of resistance settings.
  • Biking. While this workout will require you to consult your doctor about the safety of biking with your particular knee problem, it can be a good option for bad knees. Cycling is even often recommended by doctors as a good recovery option from knee injuries. If the particular motions cause you pain, try adjusting the settings on your bike at the gym or the length of time you exercise to work up stamina and strength slowly. Done outdoors as well as in, investing in a real bike (as opposed to a stationary one) may be one of the most beneficial things you’ll ever do if getting fresh air is something you love.
  • Try Yoga! Yoga is an extremely popular exercise that offers a myriad of benefits for health and fitness, including reduction of chronic pain, the promotion of relaxation and the ability to build strength and stamina. Because it’s often low impact, yoga can be enjoyed by almost anyone and can range in intensity depending on preference and skill level. Yoga helps building core muscles, improving muscle tone and flexibility, and poses can always be modified to provide less stress on knees.

While the above are great ways to stay in shape even if you experience knee pain, Dr. Irvine can advise you on the specifics of your situation for recovery from injury or management of chronic conditions and will ensure optimal safety—and enjoyment–in your exercise routine. Contact us for a consultation today!

Spring Training is Injury Prevention Time for Young Pitchers

Spring Training is Injury Prevention Time for Young Pitchers

With the Cardinals back at spring training in Florida, youth baseball players in the St. Louis area are also returning to the cages to begin their preseason training regimens. For many young pitchers, that means restarting a throwing program after at least a few months off. Having grown and developed in the off season, they’re finding their balance and release points again, and maybe trying out a new pitch or two.

Though it’s fun to focus on those mechanics, players and parents should also remember that preseason is an exceptionally important time to do the work necessary to keep young arms healthy through the long season to come. Arm care isn’t just about counting pitches. The strength and flexibility training young pitchers do in the preseason can mean the difference between ending the season as an all-star and having season-ending surgery.

Benefits of a Preseason Throwing Injury Prevention Program

In 2016, research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (“AOSSM”) Specialty Day reported that a preseason injury prevention program was shown to significantly diminish the risk of a throwing injury in youth pitchers. In the study, young pitchers participated in a program consisting of resistance training with dumbbells and elastic bands, focusing on flexibility exercises four times per week for at least fifteen minutes per session. The results found that they were four times less likely to suffer a throwing injury than a comparable group of pitchers who only followed a normal preseason throwing regimen. Quoted in the AOSSM press release reporting the findings, one of the study’s corresponding authors emphasized that encouraging “parents, coaches, and youth baseball organizations across the country to adopt similar programs [may give] athletes… a better chance for reducing time off the field because of injury.”

Resources for Developing Your Preseason Throwing Injury Prevention Program

You can find guidance from the National Strength and Conditioning Association on preseason training for youth baseball players here.

Parents, players, and coaches with questions about developing a preseason throwing injury prevention program should consult a certified athletic trainer, or contact our team at Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine today.

Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

High school sports have become a popular extracurricular for many teens. They are a great way to stay in shape and help teach teamwork, leadership, and even time management when balanced with other responsibilities. Unfortunately, for many young athletes, injuries are common, ranging from acute to catastrophic. Each type of injury requires specific treatment that may cause them to miss a game, or even the entire season, but healing time is essential for a proper return to the field or court.

If you watch professional sports, you have undoubtedly witnessed any number of injuries throughout the season. Teens are injured at about the same rate as professionals, but the injuries can be much worse if not treated correctly as these young athletes are still growing. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Growth is generally uneven: Bones grow first, which pulls at tight muscles and tendons.” This tension is a major contributing factor of injuries to muscles, tendons and growth plates that are common among young athletes.

There are a few different levels of injury that can occur in athletes. Understanding each can help the healing process and provide a realistic expectation for healing.

  • Acute Injuries: These are classified as bruises, sprains, strains and fractures. Typically, they are caused by a sudden trauma, such as a collision between players or with an obstacle. Another common acute injury is a twisted ankle, resulting in fracture or sprain.
  • Overuse Injuries: As the skill level of a sport increases, so do the practices, training and games. This can result in gradual damage over time as there is not enough recovery time in between to heal. Common overuse injuries have been seen in elbows of baseball pitchers, shoulders of swimmers, and wrist and elbow injuries in cheerleaders and gymnasts. Stress fractures also become very common, as old bone breaks down quickly with overuse and new bone does not have enough time to grow in, causing weakness.
  • Catastrophic Injuries: These types of injuries are more common with contact sports, such as hockey and football, but have been reported in many others. Catastrophic injuries include damage to the brain, spinal cord, or growth plates. Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, have become a hot topic of conversation with their rise in professional football. If a concussion is suspected, the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Neurology recommend the athlete be evaluated and cleared by a doctor before they can return to normal play to avoid any permanent damage. Growth plate injuries occur to the developing cartilage at the end of long bones. These are the final portion of the bone to harden, which is why they are more susceptible to fracture. An injury to the growth plate can cause the bone growth to stop or cause a deformity of the bone.

Any injury that occurs due to sports, particularly if any symptoms or discomfort persist, should be seen by a doctor. Athletes who are pushed to work through pain, or are downplaying the severity in order to continue competing may be causing further damage that could become permanent or even result in a disability. This is where the importance of observation by both coaches and parents comes into play as pain or discomfort can be seen if their technique seems off or they have a decreased interest in practice.

Treatment will all depend on the type of injury and its severity. It could range from simple rest to therapy and even surgery. The injury should be healed completely before the athlete can return to physical activities. While it may not be easy to have to take the time off to heal, it will result in a much better outcome than what could happen if left untreated. Athletes can work to prevent these types of injuries by making sure they are properly conditioned, trained, and using proper equipment. Limiting the number of teams the athlete participates on during a given season can help prevent overuse injuries, and making sure to take breaks between seasons, as well as playing other sports throughout the year, can not only help to prevent injury, but help develop an array of athletic skills.

If you have a teen athlete who has a sports-related injury, contact us today. We will help them with the necessary treatment plan to recover and safely get back on the field.

At-home Exercises For Retired People

At-home exercises for retired people can be an efficient way to bridge the gap between health and comfort. After spending years laboring hard in the work-force, spending time commuting and sitting behind desks or working long hours on the floor it can be a blessing to be able to enjoy the comfort of one’s home. Comfort can at times get in the way of the regular exercise our bodies need in order to stay physically as well as mentally fit.

Dr. David Irvine has extensive experience treating patients who suffer from joint and tendon disease which can sometimes occur due to lack of sufficient resistance exercises. Let’s spend some time and talk about how an active retired person can remain healthy by following a few exercises at home, whether in the comfort of the living room or braving the outdoors.

How does inactivity lead to weaker joints and tendons?

Looking at the human body one might think that the parts make up the whole. However, unlike a car, the body doesn’t have components which can be treated as stand-alone parts. The knee, for example, requires adequate muscle mass in the hamstrings, gluteus muscles as well as the calves in order to protect it during exercise or even when going for a walk.

Strength is not the only factor, tendons are part of the equation as well, requiring adequate elasticity in order to allow proper movement of the knee-joint. Weak tendons can allow for unstable motions of the knee and if in turn these structures are too tight they may cause excess wear and tear of the sensitive joint surfaces.

In medicine we have learned that a sedentary lifestyle inevitably will lead to decreased muscle mass and tighter tendon structures. The main reason for this is nerve stimulation, the lack of which decreases the blood supply to these structures causing them to become less important to the body which in turn causes degeneration – or simply put, if you don’t use it, you might lose it.

Combining daily indoor activities with exercise

You likely have common daily routines at home which may offer some relaxation such as listening to podcasts, reading a magazine or watching entertainment/news on TV. Combining exercise with such activities is the most efficient way to get mental as well as physical stimulation.

  • Stand at the kitchen counter with you feet close together, flex your calves and raise your heels off the floor and lower your weight down to a count of 5 seconds.
  • When seated on that comfy couch raise one leg at a time up to the level of your pelvis and lower it down and repeat with the other leg.
  • When listening to your favorite podcast or news source stand with your feet at arm’s-length away from the wall and gently lower your weight into the wall, performing a standing push-up.
  • Don’t forget that cleaning your home manually is an exercise by itself. A good rubdown of the counters and that circular polishing motion of the interior mirrors will definitely get your heart pumping and provide a wonderful upper body resistance exercise.
  • A couple of inexpensive 10-lb dumbbells should be used to perform biceps curls by standing erect with arms at your sides while flexing the biceps and bringing the weights to your shoulder.
  • A variation of the above exercise is to then go from the flexed biceps position directly into an overhead press by pushing the dumbbells over your head and straightening the arms as if reaching for the stars.

Exercising the body in your outdoor space

  • Gardening is one of the most meditative and laborious activities you can do in your outdoor space. Aerating the lawn, plucking weeds, planting flours and vegetables serve as wonderful exercises.
  • If you have room for potted plants consider adding them to your garden, besides requiring watering such plants need to be regularly re-potted – this is less of a chore and more of an exercise – said the optimistic doctor.
  • Consider waking up early and performing a Tai chi routine before you start your day either out on your patio, in front of some beautiful plants or under the shade of your tree.
  • Don’t let those stairs stop you, if you have stairs leading up to the house then turn on some music and go up and down them daily to provide stronger quads and calves.

Limitations to exercise

At our practice we often encounter patients who have given up exercising either because they are unable to get to a nearby gym or are limited by aches and pains.

The former is easily remedied by performing some simple home exercises as outlined above. Get creative and use common household items to perform resistance exercises.

The latter is a common concern. Patients often associate pain with causing damage. This isn’t always the case but it certainly is worth investigating. If you are trying to be more active but constantly experience pain in a specific part of your body please don’t ignore it. Dr. Irvine’s experience with muscles, ligaments and joint pains allows him to differentiate between benign pains which can be overcome with changes to your exercise routine while identifying more serious disease processes which may require proper intervention such as advanced arthritis, frayed tendons, inflamed joint surfaces etc.

We hope that you gained some useful tips from this article regarding home exercises. If you are experiencing aches or pains while doing them please contact us so that we can guide your exercise better.