Wednesday, July 27, 2011

7 Health Considerations for Summer Athletes

Summertime & the Living is Easy

Like the song says, “summertime and the living is easy”. While they may be true for some, activity enthusiasts know that maintaining or achieving a level of fitness and enjoyment during the non-school year days may not be so easy. With school sports and school schedules, time and activity is monitored and managed. Both parents and their teens are in the routine of eating, working, exercising and sleeping.

Anytime you or your parents become the coach, athlete, motivator and injury specialist, you may need some help. Sports programs outside of school often have limited budgets, volunteer coaches, and few or no athletic trainers, but still the best of intentions.

Runners and cyclists have unique summertime needs while so do tennis players and golfers. Summer sports leagues for young, middle and older all have unique concerns to address.

Heat Safety

Here are some items I found at which will make dealing with these times easier and safer. Two items which are of tremendous value to parents and exercising adults and their children are something to actually assess the ultraviolet (UV) intensity of the sun and a towel which has cooling properties.

Heat safety must be foremost in the attitude of exercising adults and teens/children. The young do not have the advanced heat control/sweating mechanisms as adults do; they actually feel the heat more intensely.

2 Products to Help Beat the Heat:

Summer Nutrition & Fluid Replacement

Proper nutrition and fluid replacement is critical to performance and to health. During the summer months adequate fluid and nutrient replacement must be maintained. Take the time to learn about heat and fluids; find what works best for you. Studies have shown that fluid losses as little as 1-2% of your body weight can negatively affect stamina, endurance and performance. Find products that maintain energy and fluids.

Improve Your Summer Nutrition & Fluid Intake:

Tennis & Golfing

Tennis enthusiasts and golfers often can use items to support sore muscles and reduce discomfort. Simple supports can make activity more enjoyable.

Get the Support You Need:
  • Look at wrist/tennis elbow supports - See if a simple wrap or brace will increase your enjoyment of tennis or golf. Even yard work, painting and home repairs can produce symptoms of tennis or golfer elbow which would benefit from supportive straps or sleeves.

Running & Walking

Runners and walkers must pay close attention to their shoes and feet. (Tips for Selecting the Proper Size Athletic Shoe >>)Small problems can be accentuated with activity. Joggers and walkers step many more times each day than non-activists; each foot strikes the ground about 800 times per mile. Being able to select and view products that are designed specifically for these problems is important.

3 Products For Runners & Walkers:

Performing Self Assessments

There are many important health assessments that require physician involvement. Yet serious exercise devotees can perform some basic self assessments and would benefit from those measurements. Measuring exertion, health responses to exercise, blood pressure, pulse rate and oxygen uptake during exercise has value to measure effort as well as to protect from overtraining.

4 Health Assessments You Can Perform Without a Physician:

“It is wiser to prepare than to repair”

While getting out and “getting to it” is the reason why exercise can be fun, remember “it is wiser to prepare than to repair”.  Giving strength development, flexibility increases and range of motion improvement the time and effort they deserve will yield considerable benefits. Get in shape to get in shape is a prudent idea.

Don't Leave Out Strength Exercises:

Aches & Pains

Yet with improvement and physical exertion there can be injury or discomfort associated with improving your current state. The old idea of “no pain, no gain” has gone by the wayside just like “no water makes you tough”. Muscles respond to demands by becoming stronger and actually producing more blood vessels, but the production of lactic acid associated with muscular effort can be uncomfortable.

Find Relief:

It takes time and effort to take care of your health, but it is an investment that yields considerable dividends. Being aware of the factors associated with doing it wisely can be beneficial and produce better results.

Phil Hossler, ATC has been an athletic trainer on the scholastic, collegiate and Olympic levels. He has authored 4 books and numerous articles and served as an officer in state and regional athletic training associations for 20 years. He is a member of four halls of fame including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

13 Tips for Selecting the Best Fitting Athletic Shoe

Protect Your Feet and Avoid Podiatry Problems with Shoes that Fit Correctly.

Your foot-ankle area is truly an architectural wonder. While composing 2-4% of the body’s total skin surface, the sole of the foot is capable of absorbing up to 7 times normal body weight with each foot plant.

There are a few general guidelines to be remembered when shopping for activity shoes:

  1. Never buy new shoes early in the day; shop in late afternoon or early evening when feet have swollen to their greatest width otherwise what felt good in the morning may be too tight in the evening.
  2. Bring the socks that you intend to wear with your activity shoes when you go shopping.
  3. If you have an old pair of activity shoes, bring them along with you to the store. Put on one old and one new shoe as you walk, hop, jump around the store. Compare the feel and then switch again onto your other foot.

  4. Set the shoe on a flat surface and look at it from the back. Make certain the heel counter sits perpendicular to the surface without leaning in or out.

  5. Take your thumb and attempt to flatten the heel counter into the shoe; heel counters should be firm.

  6. Check for double stitching especially around the laces and toe box.

  7. Make certain that the “break” in the top of the shoe is directly above the ball of your foot to ensure that the shoe bends where the foot bends.

  8. Leather uppers wear longer but are hotter than nylon mesh. Mesh will “breath” to help keep the foot cool and dry, but may be harder to keep clean.

  9. Match the shoe to the activity.

  10. Remember that a snug shoe might stretch in width, but a short shoe will not stretch in length.

  11. Match the toe box width to the shape of your toes. Some people find a wide toe box to be more comfortable with no pinching, squeezing and eventual blister formation.

  12. Break shoes in gradually. Alternate during the activity period between old and new for a while until the new feels as comfortable as the old.

  13. If you have a history of bunions, calluses, blister, arch strains, plantar fasciitis, it may be worth a podiatrist visit to get an explanation and/or manufacturer model number for the best shoe for you.

Many problems can be controlled or eliminated with prudent first aid and preventative measures. Consider using products such as Spenco® 2nd Skin if your new shoes rub your toes, Cramer® Blister Foam if your new shoes are rubbing the back of your heel, Longitudinal Arch Pads if you have a high arch and the shoes just don’t seem to support your arch, or Plantar Fascia Straps to help combat plantar fasciitis.

View all podiatry products available from Sports Health >>