How to Train Like an Olympian

Inspiration is all around us. Watching the winter Olympics, there’s plenty of athletic inspiration to feast our eyes on. Yes, we may not have the time or natural talent to compete at the highest level of sport. But what we’ll find when taking a look at the training habits of the elite athlete, is that there’s a lot we can apply to our everyday physical goals.

TRAINING LIKE AN ATHLETE

Training Team

The professional athlete doesn’t train alone. There’s a team in place to help advise, encourage and support the athlete. Build your team! Consult with your primary physician before you start a new exercise program and stay current with your physicals. Stay on top of unusual aches and pains before they progress into serious issues by reaching out to one of the skilled specialists at Northeast Orthopedics. Bring a friend along to your workouts to help you stay accountable. Reach out to others with the same athletic goals as you on social media and join a community. Your team is out there waiting to support your journey.

Diet/Hydration

When you’re an athlete in training, your body needs a lot of fuel. That’s why diet is so important. Fuel your body with enough carbs to provide energy and protein to support muscle growth. And don’t forget the importance of hydration. Aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces per day. If you’re new to consuming a lot of water, start at a tolerable level and build up your intake each week.

Strength Training

You may think strength training is only for sports that require a lot of power, but building muscle strength is key for endurance sports as well. Strong muscles create an overall structure that is less prone to injury. For the non-professional athlete, a strong frame makes you less vulnerable to falls and related injuries.

Rest/Recovery

Every professional athlete knows the importance of rest/recovery days. Taking a break from intense training allows the body the opportunity to heal and make the next training session more effective. At home, rest days can look like a leisure walk instead of a HITT cardio class, or some simple yoga flows rather than hitting the weights hard.

Sleep

We’ve all experienced sleepless nights and the feeling of uselessness the following day. Imagine being sleep deprived and expecting your body to perform at an Olympic level. It’s a recipe for injuries to occur. That’s why top athletes prioritize sleep, and so should you. Restfulness isn’t something your body would like to have, it’s something it needs in order to allow healing and restoration.

Your level of training may not mirror that of an Olympian, but the formula is there for your success. And, as always, the providers of NEOSM are there to support you all the way!

The Rise of One-Sport Injuries

As a parent, it’s easy to go “all-in” on a sport your child really enjoys or excels in. But studies are showing that playing the same sport for three or more seasons of the year is resulting in a spike in overuse injuries in young athletes. While sudden trauma injuries are immediately apparent, overuse injuries appear gradually and can be easy to miss. What can you do to prevent serious injury if your son or daughter has become a “one-sport” athlete and how do you spot trouble? The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) have created The One-SportTM campaign to answer that question and to guide parents and coaches.

Preventing Injuries

Following the guidelines below will help kids get the most out of their sport while reducing risk of injury.

PHYSICAL – It’s a good idea to have your child visit their doctor for a physical before their season starts to screen for, diagnose and treat any conditions.

WARM UP & COOL DOWN – Gradually increasing the heart rate before exercise and allowing a gradual decrease after is important. During warm up and cool down, give a proper amount of time to stretch muscles gently.

HYDRATE– Taking a water break at least every 30 minutes (or more often depending on weather and activity) is key to preventing cramps and muscle spasms.

PROPER EQUIPMENT – Always use proper equipment when participating in a sport. Be sure all gear fit well, are in good condition and are checked on a weekly basis.

GRADUAL TRAINING INCREASE & INSTRUCTION – You wouldn’t jump in the deep end at your first swim lesson for the same reason you shouldn’t train to extremes from the start. Allow your child to gradually increase the intensity of their training as their skills and strength grow. Look to coaches and trainers for guidance on correct form and appropriate exercises suited to your athlete’s ability.

BREAKS AND REST – The most important lesson to teach kids during training is how to listen to their bodies and take a break when necessary. Until they learn how, adults should encourage scheduled rests during training or competition, plus rest days during the week to allow their bodies to recover.

Spotting Trouble

Don’t miss the signs of overuse. Early action can prevent long term effects on performance or quality of life. Take action if you notice any of the following:

  • Isolated pain when using a body part
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Preference to put weight on one side of the body rather than another
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Headaches during or after training or competition
  • Stiffness in joints or muscles
  • Unusual weakness
  • Presence of blisters or irritate skin

If you see the presence of any of these signs, call one of our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists as soon as possible. With early evaluation and intervention, you can prevent injuries that can have life-long implications.

For more information on The One-SportTM campaign, visit www.stopsportsinjuries.org.

5 Signs Your Child May Be Overtraining

When watching young athletes in motion, it’s easy to think they have a boundless cache of energy and stamina. So daily practices, rigorous game schedules and continued training shouldn’t be a problem, right? Actually, no. Overtraining can actually deteriorate an athlete’s performance. With more and more children committing to one sport year-round, risks of burnout and injury increase. Here are signs of overtraining and tips to help make your child a healthy life-long athlete.

Five Signs of Overtraining

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest in practice or competition
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Persistent pain in muscles or joints
  • Decrease in sport performance

Protecting Your Athlete

Time to Heal:

Include 1 to 2 rest days from sport training or competition per week to allow muscles and body to heal.

Quality Rest:

Get plenty of sleep per night to send your body into restoration mode.

Variety of Activity:

Participate in a variety of sports to prevent overuse injuries.

Scheduled Time Off:

Every 2 or 3 months, take a longer break from structured practice or games of a single sport. During this time, focus on maintaining strength and stamina in different ways.

Learn to Listen:

Teach your athlete to always listen to their body and understand cues of burnout or injury.

See a Specialist:

Add a NEOSM Sports Medicine specialists to your team. Our physicians are ready to work with your athlete to help them perform at their peak level while avoiding unnecessary injury.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.

What Everyone Needs To Know For A Safe Pool Season

There’s really nothing better than taking a dip in a cool pool on a long, hot summer day.  With a nice swim, we can relax, exercise or just have fun with friends. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on a good time – or, more importantly, suffer a serious injury – so we’re sharing some easy-to-follow tips to think about next time you’re planning a day poolside.

Before You Plunge

Before you get into a pool, it’s important to evaluate first and foremost if you actually should. Ask yourself: Am I alone? Do I not see a lifeguard present? Is the weather report calling for lightning? Have I consumed alcohol? Am I too tired or too overheated? If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, reconsider.

Know Your Depths

Make sure you know how deep the water is. Look out for depth indicators throughout the pool, as depths can vary in different sections. NEVER dive in shallow water and always check depth markers before you go in headfirst. More on diving in our next section. If you are an inexperienced swimmer, avoid depths where you cannot stand comfortably with your head above water.

Diving

It bears repeating: NEVER DIVE IN SHALLOW WATER. Serious spinal cord injuries, including paralysis of all four limbs, can and do occur. Never dive headfirst in above ground pools or water that is murky and where you can’t see the bottom. Dive only off the end of a diving board and swim away from the diving area immediately to avoid the next diver.

Pool Deck

If you sit by a pool with children long enough, you’re sure to hear a lifeguard or parent yell “Don’t run!” at least once. It’s for good reason. The area around a pool will naturally be wet, creating a slick surface that is easy to slip on. Add in flimsy flip flops or bare feet and running, and chances of a fall increase. So walk carefully. Also, if swimming at night, make sure the area is well lit to avoid any hazards for trips or falls.  

Swimming for Fitness

If swimming is your go-to for aerobic exercise, you’ve made a great choice. It’s an activity that can be continued as you age, is gentle on your joints and is simply a great workout. As with any form of exercise, injuries can occur, so make sure to warm-up your body before you start, stretch often and include weight bearing exercises in your program to strengthen your shoulders and back.

With these basic guidelines, you’re sure to have a summer full of poolside fun, hopefully injury-free. However, should you encounter an issue, as always, the specialists at NEOSM are here to help.

Keeping Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow at Arm’s Length

By: Dr. Barry S. Kraushaar

Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow are names for similar tendon injuries that occur at the tendon attachments on the outer (lateral) and inner (medial) sides of the elbow joint. If you have pain on or near the points of bone that serve as the origins of the muscles of the forearm, you may have this diagnosis. The forearm muscles, which give power to your grip, attach to these anchoring points called epicondyles. They can tear off of the bone or within their fibers. Tendons are injured throughout our lives, but they usually heal themselves, making it rare to need medical help. When a tendon attachment to your elbow tears and fails to heal it can be Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow.

TENNIS ELBOW is an injury at the outer (lateral) bony prominence of the elbow. You can have this diagnosis even if you do not play tennis, but the name comes from the observation that tennis players get it as part of the sport. This is because the grip of a long tennis racquet and the wrist motions of the tennis swing put strain on the muscles which originate at the lateral epicondyle. Expert tennis players rarely get tennis elbow because they have powerful forearms and good swing mechanics. If you have the wrong grip size, string tension, timing (late swing), racquet type, or stroke mechanics (wrist motion), you are at risk for Tennis Elbow. In fact, any type of forearm overuse can cause tennis elbow, and the treatment options, described below, are the same.

GOLFER’S ELBOW refers to pain on the inner, medial side of the elbow. In this sport, the problem is caused by the combined effect of the long club length being gripped by the trailing arm (the right arm in a right-handed swing) as the club-head strikes the ground, such as in the rough, the sand or when taking a divot to get under the ball. The forearm is driving forward as the hand is held back, causing strain in the muscles that control the wrist. The damage occurs at the tendinous origin on the inner side of the elbow. Ironically, golfers can also get Tennis Elbow, because the leading arm sees strain on the outer, lateral side during the same movement.

Treatment

There are many additional reasons for tendon injuries about the elbow, usually involving pulling or twisting motions during exertion. It can happen from low level stresses or big motions. From an orthopedic view, the approach is to identify the causes and help the patient adjust activities to allow the tendons to heal themselves.  This may involve a period of partial or complete rest from the aggravating activity. It may involve different equipment or technique. During a flare-up, you may benefit by using a brace. If you wear a wrist brace it may help the elbow by limiting the motions that are traumatizing the injured tendon. A tennis elbow strap is different, as it works by re-directing forces coming up the forearm and deflecting the pulling effect on the tendon origin. Pills, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS like ibuprofen) or analgesics (acetaminophen, Tylenol) may temporarily help the symptoms, but they do not cure tendon injuries. Similarly, a steroid (cortisone) injection may relieve pain for now, but the chemical may damage tendon, and after a few months the problem can come back even worse. Sometimes, a small injection is used as part of a bigger plan.

The most effective and lasting way to manage Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow is to perform exercises to strengthen the forearm. Since the elbow is injured, the exercises need to be rehabilitation type, which is different than fitness exercise. Doctors often prescribe Physical Therapy because a therapist should know the gradually increasing exercises that achieve the goal of lasting recovery without a setback. While many videos exist online, there is no substitute for personal guidance. Once you learn these exercise you can do them yourself. 

Other non-operative treatments exist but are less commonly used. One promising intervention is Stem Cell Injection Therapy. Currently, this technique involves having your blood drawn and spun in a centrifuge. The provider injects a small volume of your own special stem-cells back into you at the site of the pain, and you grow new tendon in the damage zone. Stem cells can also be harvested from your fat or marrow. The use of Stem Cells is usually not covered by insurance, and the statistics of success are still not high enough for many people to be willing to pay out of pocket (costs hundreds to thousands of dollars).  Ask your doctor if you want to know the current trends.

Ultimately, surgery may be necessary for tendon injury at the elbow. There is a minimally invasive technique that requires a brief, light period of sedation and/or local anesthetic injection. The doctor introduces a special needle through your skin over the injured area and activates a device that either causes the tip of the needle to heat up and melt the damaged tendon, or it injects a pressurized water jet into the tendon to break up the scar tissue and cause the tendon to react by developing scar tissue to replace the damaged area. During this process, the surgeon may also use stem cells, described above.

The open surgical technique for Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow is well established and has an excellent success rate. The operation is not usually very long, involves little or no risk to nerves and vessels, and recovers rather quickly, although you may need a period of protection and rehabilitation afterward to give the tendon a chance to heal and the muscle groups time to recover. Basically, the surgeon opens the tendon and removes the bad scar tissue, the tendon is given a chance to grow fresh tissue in the place of the old, painful region, which is usually right where the pain was. In my practice, fewer than ten percent of patients with Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow go to surgery, and nearly every patient reports real improvement from the intervention. Return to sports and full activities is possible in most cases.

Summary

If you think you have Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow, try to identify the causes and address them yourself. Try to gently strengthen your muscled without overdoing it. Consider a brace and careful usage of medicines, if you can do so safely. If you do need orthopedic care, you may be discussing physical therapy and the other treatments described above. Know that if you have to go to surgery, the options in most cases are likely to be effective. Hopefully, you can continue to enjoy your active lifestyle, doing what you need or want to do. The specialists at NEOSM are there to help along the way.

At-Home Relief for Tight Hamstrings

Did you know lower back pain, hip and knee issues, poor posture and other problems can be associated with tight hamstrings? The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located in the back of the thigh. When these muscles are tight, or inflexible, they can cause discomfort beyond pain in the immediate area.  If it’s difficult to touch your toes without bending your knees, either from standing or when seated on the floor, you may be suffering from tight hamstrings. So what can you do to feel some relief?

Prevention

A common cause of tight hamstrings is being in a seated position for prolonged amounts of time. Too much sitting means your hamstrings are constantly flexed, so it’s important to give those muscles a chance to elongate. Take breaks to stand up, walk around or do some stretching.

Equally important is the time you give to stretching before and after you exercise. Proper warm up and cool down of your hamstrings can prevent injury.

Stretches

Consistent stretching is a great way to relieve tight hamstrings. Here are some stretches to try at home.

  • Simple Hamstring Stretch

Seated on the floor with both legs straight out, reach forward while bending at the hip towards your toes, being careful not to overly round your back. Hold for up to 30 seconds.

  • Hamstring Stretch with Strap

While lying flat on the floor, place a strap or towel around the bottom of your foot, hold on to each end in your hands. Slowly extend your leg so the bottom of your foot is raised towards the ceiling while keeping your knee straight. Your other leg should be extended on the ground. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

  • Standing Hamstring Stretch

While standing, cross one foot over the other. Bend at the waist and slowly lower your upper body toward your knees, careful not to bend your knees. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

It’s always key to listen to your body. If you are experiencing prolonged pain, it may be a sign of a more serious issue. Contact us to meet with one of our orthopedic specialists for a consultation.

Which approach is right for your hip?

By: Dr. Barry Kraushaar

When a patient has arthritis of the hip, there really are only a few choices available for treatment. Most people try to ignore pain or live with it as long as they can.  Once daily life is affected, it becomes necessary to discuss other options. 

The non-operative care of the arthritic hip is rather limited. Options include:

  • Oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pills. 
    • These can help briefly, but they do not address the underlying problem, and they can cause bleeding, ulcers, kidney disease and high blood pressures,
  • Physical therapy 
    • This may help especially if there are surrounding thigh and low back issues
  • Hip joint injections 
    • Cortisone may briefly help
  • Less traditional measures 
    • Acupuncture, topical ointments and rubs, chiropractic care, prolotherapy, stem cell treatments, etc., though these are not proven to work by scientific standards

For those patients who do not improve with conservative measures, hip replacement surgery may be necessary. When this decision is made, a patient has two general choices about the surgical approach to the hip: Anterior or Posterior

  • Anterior hip replacement – this procedure is done with the patient lying face upward on the table. A special table may (or may not) be used to help the surgeon optimize the procedure. The approach allows the use of a video-type fluoroscope imaging system which permits real-time optimization of the process of implanting the joint. The surgery is performed by entering the hip between muscles, and no muscle is cut in the process. This procedure is optimal for some patients – ask your surgeon. Some patients report a more rapid return to walking and activities after the anterior approach – compared to the posterior approach. Also, after this approach there is no restriction to bending over, and patients are not required to follow “hip precautions” as is necessary in the posterior approach. Some patients feel the anterior approach is less painful in the early post-operative time period.
  • Posterior hip replacement – this approach has been the more traditional method, and the duration of a routine case may be a bit shorter than the anterior approach. The posterior approach does not require any special table to perform. It is “tried and true” and some surgeons perform only this procedure because it is so reproducibly good that they prefer to stay with it exclusively. The posterior approach involves crossing some fine-control muscles on the way into the hip joint. The ligaments in the rear of the hip are opened, so after the procedure is done, patients need to observe hip precautions, usually for three months. They are not allowed to bend past 90-degrees and should sleep with a pillow between the knees, among other restrictions. The fluoroscope cannot be used real-time during the case, but plain x-rays can be taken during the case to confirm that components are going in correctly. The posterior approach is felt by some surgeons to be best in difficult cases because it is easier to manage difficulties (such as a stress fracture) from this direction.

By 6 weeks most patients with either approach are doing similarly well. Infection rates are similarly low. Dislocation rates are slightly less with the anterior replacement according to some reports. Blood thinners are used in the same manner postoperatively for either approach.

Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine has surgeons who perform both the anterior and posterior approaches to hip replacement. We are happy to answer your questions, so contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Preventing Gardening Injuries

For most of us who enjoy gardening, it is a relaxing, safe hobby.  However, every year we see many people who are needlessly injured in their backyards. Nationally more than 400,000 gardening injuries are seen in the ER every year.

By: Dr. Doron Ilan

For most of us who enjoy gardening, it is a relaxing, safe hobby.  However, every year we see many people who are needlessly injured in their backyards. Nationally more than 400,000 gardening injuries are seen in the ER every year. Back injuries, hand lacerations/puncture wounds, infections, overuse tendinitis, bug bites, and heat exhaustion are some of the more common medical conditions seen in recreational gardeners. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this spring and summer.

  • Warm up: One of the most common mistakes is to head straight to the shed and start lifting heavy bags of mulch, soil, and equipment. This can lead to back sprains and muscle strains.  Instead, first, take a 5-10 brisk walk to warm up the muscles, loosen the joints and get the heart rate up a bit.
  • Wear gloves: This will prevent most thorn punctures, blisters, lacerations, and bug bites. It will also protect your skin from pesticides, bacteria, and fungus (often live in soil). A small cut can lead to a major infection. A light long sleeve shirt and long socks or pants can’t hurt either.  Don’t forget the sunscreen and a hat.
  • Hydrate: It is very easy to spend hours gardening without drinking. Bring a bottle of water outside with you and sip regularly
  • Rotate your tasks: Avoid overuse repetitive stress injuries by not spending more than 10-15 minutes in a row doing the same motion. Make sure your gardening activities are varied so that the same muscles are not used repetitively.
  • Use proper equipment
  • Check your skin for ticks after you finish gardening for the day. Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections are very common in our area.

Following these tips can help minimize your risk, but of course, if you do sustain an injury make sure to get medical attention as soon as possible.  Have a great spring and summer — and enjoy your gardening!

If you do encounter an orthopedic injury while gardening, contact us today to find out what’s wrong and how we can help.