Stay Safe on the Slopes

January is National Sports/Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month. TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. This month is meant to shed light on concussions and other brain injuries sustained during sports, specifically that of winter sports. Traumatic brain injury occurs when a trauma, such as a fall, head injury, or car crash, causes damage to the way the brain functions. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, approximately 1.7 million TBIs occur each year in the US, resulting in 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations. TBI is usually misdiagnosed which often causes complications or the death of the patient.

Football & hockey are most commonly associated with these types of injuries however skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowmobiling also can cause significant damage. A 10-year study by the International Federation of Skiing documented 320 concussions sustained by athletes in the disciplines of alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and ski jumping.

The National Ski Areas Association has provided the following tips for staying safe on the slopes this winter:

  • Always wear a helmet! Make sure that the helmet fits properly and that you fasten the chin strap. You want to be sure to have a proper winter activity helmet, not a bicycle helmet. Ski & snowboard helmets have specific features geared towards those activities
  • Wear the proper size skis. Larger skis may be harder to control. Speak to a professional in order to pick the appropriate size skis for your body type
  • Have proper bindings which keep your boots to the skis or snowboard. Binds should be able to release your foot but not too easily & should be adjusted by a professional
  • Boots should fit correctly, not too big or too tight. Your boots should also be warm and should be secured to the skis or snowboard
  • Like skis, poles should be of appropriate length and should have looped straps which go around your wrists

In the event that an injury does occur, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. Do not continue with the sport or activity until cleared by a medical professional. Rest is the best form of treatment when it comes to a concussion. This will allow the brain to better recover and prevent further damage. You may be advised to abstain from physical activity and even activities which require you to focus or learn new concepts. This may involve working less hours or shortening your school days. As symptoms begin to improve, you may gradually increase activity level as advised by your doctor. Keep in mind that repeated blows to the head can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is a progressive, degenerative disease that has been linked to memory loss, impaired judgment, insomnia, dementia, and severe depression. Follow the tips above & always err on the side of caution when participating in vigorous winter activities.

As with most sports & activities, you should get yourself in shape prior to hitting the slopes. You can’t ski your way into shape and you will enjoy it much more if you’re physically fit. Come to The Arena & train with our strength & conditioning coaches who can get you in great shape for the slopes & throughout the whole year.

By Gina Stallone CPT

Learn this Simple Lifesaving Technique

 

This is a true story that I hope inspires you to take action.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s birthday dinner with my family. A lady sitting at the far end of my table suddenly stood up holding her throat looking in distress. She began walking toward the bar. The lights were dim and the music loud. Most people in the crowded room didn’t seem to notice. Her friends sitting at the table did not follow her. Maybe they thought she wanted privacy? Earlier I had overheard her saying that she had many food allergies and was extremely sensitive. I initially thought she was having an allergic reaction to something she ate.

A member of the waitstaff followed her. I was concerned and followed her as well. My thoughts at that point were to ask her about and look for an EpiPen as she had known allergies. As I got closer she collapsed to her knees still holding her throat. At that point it seemed more like she was choking and all of a sudden those years of CPR training and recertification I had received, that I hoped I never had to use, kicked in. I yelled to the bartender to call 911 (which they were on their way to do anyway). In an emergency, always call 911 to get help on the way as quickly as possible.

I asked her if she was choking and wanted me to help her and she desperately nodded. Strange and obvious as this question may sound, this is part of the protocol. There were some waitstaff and bartenders around us and someone asked if I knew what to do. I said I had training in this, would do all I can to help and then got to work.

After performing two rounds of the abdominal thrust protocol also known as the Heimlich Maneuver, her airway cleared and she started coughing and breathing. I cannot describe the relief and gratitude I felt, and cannot even imagine what she must have felt at that moment.

What was most striking, and almost surreal, to me during this experience was the automatic response and calm control I felt. The reason being, every time I’ve taken CPR classes over the years, I’ve always dreaded actually being in a situation where the training was necessary. My fear was that I wouldn’t act effectively under pressure in the heat of the moment. But I felt surprisingly clear-minded, the procedure seemed to flow and thankfully was successful. The lady, although a little shaken, was ok.

Another thing that struck me was the fact that with so many people around, no one else followed her to see if she needed help as she walked away. Some people may not be able to recognize signs of distress, or maybe want to give privacy and not embarrass someone if they don’t realize the gravity of the situation. If you feel you are in distress, make it known that you need help. This is crucial.

My reason for sharing this story is to encourage you to get training in CPR or CPR/First Aid. You can make a huge difference in, and maybe even save someone’s life. Familiarize yourself with the basics because things really do happen at unexpected times. Then continue to be re-certified/trained as years go by. Practice and brush up on these skills once in a while. Repetition is what creates motor memory and will make a difference when there is real stress involved.

Some of us are required to have this training based on our careers. But even if it’s not a requirement, do it anyway. Sometimes professional help may be too far away when every second counts. So the more prepared we are to respond and take appropriate action when time is of the essence, the better our chances of successful outcomes.

There are lots of resources online for basic information and classes everywhere. Simply Google CPR classes in your area and you’ll easily find one.  Below are some links to help you get started.

 

Links:

http://www.redcross.org/flash/brr/English-html/conscious-choking.asp

http://henryheimlich.com/how-to-perform-the-heimlich-maneuver/

https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/choking-in-children#1

https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240175_Pediatric_ready_reference.pdf

https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lp/cpr-first-aid-aed-certification-new-hero?utm=a&device=d&scode=PSG00000E017&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyqem79HI2AIVB1gNCh3r8AciEAAYASAAEgLSE_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CNOCm5fSyNgCFcQONwodYiUCTA

What Can We Learn from Top Athletes?

One of the quotes that better describes the mindset of successful athletes says, “Top athletes train as if they are the worst, yet compete as if they are the best.” I find it to be a humble, yet a powerful description of how an elite athlete goes about the mental preparation to succeed. Success is not consistently achieved by just showing up to compete and trying your best. Elite athletes clearly understand that the best predictor of success is a well-structured practice that pushes their physical, strategic, and mindset boundaries. Only when practices are used to their fullest potential, ideal performance are achieved.

Here are the best five habits shared by elite athletes that we can also implement:

Goal setting

Elite athletes plan their course of action by specifically setting out their goals under a reasonable time-table. Knowing exactly what they want to achieve pushes them to take action in direction toward constant improvement. Goals are broken down by identifying long-term objectives first and then working backwards by setting short term goals. One way to effectively stay on track on the achievement is by using a SMART chart. Eliud Keichogue, who ran 2nd in the 2016 London Marathon, kept track of all his progress, which helps him to remind himself of all his success and progress he was making to meet his goals.

 

 

Embrace mistakes as a learning experience

Elite athletes compete against themselves. All their focus is on improving their skills, mindset and performance. Missing the achievement of a goal is not a setback, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve for next time. Avoiding mistakes will only limit their achievements. Learning how to cope with setbacks will push them to achieve their goals. They see a big difference between obstacles versus challenges. The former places focus on the negative whereas the latter on the positive. Elite athletes are constantly learning from all their opportunities that are given and use that experience to feed more information and critical thinking to plan better for next time.

 

  • Sleep

Usain Bolt shared that his unnegotiable preparation routine is sleep. Sleeping is a time to recover and re-energize the body and mind. Make sure your room is free from electronics, a bit on the cooler side as it helps to rest the body quicker, and maintain a routine. Equally effective are power-naps. It provides time for the body to heal and, most importantly, for the mind to be fresh and ready to react and respond.

 

  • Imagery

The imagery of attaining goals is a powerful tool that feeds the brain with positive energy, optimism and motivation. Athletes visualize the achievement of their goal prior to starting each of their performances and practices.  There are two ways of doing imagery work: Internal Imagery: the athlete sees him/herself executing the ideal performance by bringing in as vivid an imagery as possible. The athlete “feels” the entire experience of the performance as if he/she is really doing it. The clearer and the more vivid the imagery is, the more the body will remember such an experience. External Imagery: the athlete sees him/herself competing as if he/she was on a canvas or screen of a movie theatre. In this case, there is an imaginary distance where the athlete “sees” him/herself successfully completing the entire performance rather than sensing it in his/her body.

  • Be happy

Katie Ledecky, a multiple time Olympic and World swimming champion, has learned to take competition in a happy, more relaxed manner. She shares that she places anxious moments at an arm’s length by bringing positive thoughts to any negative thoughts that start to creep into her mind. She finds that smiling and laughter brings relaxation and are natural remedies to alleviate stress.

Hope these tips used by elite athletes are equally incorporated in your routines. If it works from them, it can clearly work for us.

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge

Getting in Shape Quicker in 2018

Every year we all make our lists of New Year Resolutions and promise ourselves to get in better shape. The truth is less than 7% of us will actually change anything. If you really want to change, then you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Workout like you are 19 years old and willing to really sweat and be exhausted and sore. Figure out what motivates you and what kind of workout you enjoy. If you like running, do that. If you prefer elliptical or biking, do that. And if you prefer varying your work out, mix it up.

Nobody has enough time to work out the way they want to. I try to get an hour work out in before work; unfortunately, I can usually only do 30 minutes. We need to maximize the use of the minutes we have in the gym to be as efficient as possible. Interval training has been shown to have much more benefit than standard work outs. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be even better than interval training.

A standard workout is going on the elliptical for 20 minutes at one speed. Interval training would be varying the resistance/speed with peaks and valleys during the workout. An HIIT workout would involve making the peaks much higher pushing you where your body cannot supply enough oxygen to the working muscles. This could include not only your leg and arm muscles but also your heart muscle. The HIIT workout will require your body to recover for hours after your workout. Your metabolism will be increased and you will be burning more calories for several hours even after you are done with your training. Short but intense workout challenges are the key to HIIT.

I was caught up in my routine workout and getting bored doing the same regimen for years. Then 3 months ago I decided to go on a bike trip to South America with my 19-year-old son. I knew I had to step up my training to avoid embarrassment and so I would not feel old next to a much younger real athlete. I started biking outside and then started spin classes as the weather got colder. Also, I hired a personal trainer to kick my butt and help me do new workouts. The trainer was smart and goal-oriented helping design a legs and core workout to get me ready for the mountains of Chile. Over the next 6 weeks, I lost about 7 lbs. and dropped my waist size. I also felt better and more energetic during the day. I was well prepared and did great biking abroad.

I am competitive by nature, and this is part of what motivates me. When I am in spin class I won’t quit because I would not let the person next to me work harder. When my son passes me on the bike, I am pushing myself to keep up or even try to pass him. A lot of the work is mind over matter. Find what motivates you and use it.

Whatever physical activity you do, you need to push yourself. However, make sure your body can handle the challenge. As a physician, I advise you to know your body and realize that in doing too much you can hurt yourself. You need to know your limits and if you are uncertain talk to your own physician. It is a new year. Decide to be one of the 7% that actually change yourself for the better in 2018.

By Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA

Director Orthopedic Surgery Westchester Sport & Spine at White Plains Hospital

What is the Paleo Diet?

 

Many diet gurus, workout fiends, and nutrition specialists have been touting the benefits of the Paleo diet. A Paleo diet is named appropriately because it focuses on eating foods available only in the Paleolithic Age, when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. This eliminates ALL processed foods, refined grains, cereals, and milk. Only fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds are allowed. The diet makes sense because evidence has shown that processed foods and sugars are responsible for many health issues. It increases the consumption of meats, fruits, and vegetables, which add nutrients and antioxidants to the diet.

Some of the health benefits of the Paleo diet include weight loss, reduced inflammation, increased satiety, regulated blood sugar levels, and corrected nutrient deficiencies. The diet is high in protein and fat, and since it’s all-natural, it is filled with nutrient rich foods.

Foods that should be avoided on the Paleo diet are refined sugars, refined oils, dairy, legumes (including peanuts, beans, and tofu), salt, potatoes, cereal grains, starches, and alcohol. Many Paleo experts allow grass-fed butter since it is more a fat than a dairy product, but that is a little controversial. Other controversial foods are pseudo-grains, such as quinoa. Quinoa is not strictly Paleo, but some people on Paleo diets eat it from time to time. It should be avoided if weight loss is the goal or if there are gut issues.

If your goal is weight loss, certain foods that are considered Paleo should be consumed in moderation. For example, butternut squash, acorn squash, yams, sweet potatoes, and beets are starchy vegetables. While technically allowed, their high starch content increases blood sugar levels and may promote weight gain, so they should be consumed in moderation. Additionally, processed meats and meat high in fat should be avoided since they provide more calories and fat. While fruits are Paleo-approved, they are also high in natural sugars, so consumption should be limited to once a day, with the focus on low glycemic fruits, such as berries and apples.

Some critics of the Paleo diet state that the diet may be too high in protein and difficult for many people to follow. Additionally, the diet is high in seafood. Many types of fish and shellfish are very high in toxins. However, in general, I believe the benefits of the diet far outweigh the negatives. In fact, if your goal is to lose weight in 2018, a version of the Paleo diet is a great way to start off the New Year!

 

By Denise Groothuis MS RD

For Men, Exercise is Key to Increasing Fertility

A comprehensive randomized control study that came out earlier this year suggests that engaging in moderate aerobic exercise can significantly increase male fertility rates in previously infertile men.  The study was conducted over a 24-week intervention period, with both exercise and non-exercise groups being physically similar in terms of body composition, semen quality, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.

Throughout the course of the study, measurements were taken against baseline measurements, showing significant improvements in the exercise group in following areas:  Increase in Vo2 Max, which measures aerobic capacity, an increase in semen quality and decrease in sperm DNA damage, decreased markers of oxidative stress, and decreased pro-inflammatory markers.  Furthermore, during and post intervention, there were more total pregnancies and live births in the exercise group than in the control group, which reported 0% live births.

As the exercise subjects became more aerobically active, they experienced decreased body weight and body fat during the intervention.  The decrease in oxidative stress is attributed to an increase in exercise-induced antioxidant enzymes.  It was also reported that discontinuing exercise four weeks after the intervention period was not a long enough period have a significant adverse effect on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

The take-away for men and couples hoping to increase their fertility, is that even a little goes a long way.  Try to incorporate moderate physical activity into your lifestyle, 3-4 days/week, for at least 25 minutes per bout.  Examples of moderate physical activity include:

  1. Brisk walk
  2. Light jog
  3. Heavy cleaning
  4. Mowing the lawn
  5. Light bicycling (10-12 miles/hour)
  6. Tennis- doubles
  7. Recreational badminton
  8. Hiking
  9. Recreational swimming
  10. Kayaking in calm water

By Rima Sidhu, MS

Arthritis

Do I Have Arthritis?

This is the question everyone older than forty worries about and no one under 40 thinks they could possibly have. The problem with arthritis is that it is an irreversible disease process that often progresses and gets worse.

What is arthritis? Arthritis is simply the damage to cartilage in a joint. The cartilage is the smooth white end of the joints that protects the underlying bone and allows your joints move smoothly. The most common joints affected are the knees, the hips and the shoulders. It also occurs commonly in the hand at the base of the thumb. It can occur in all other joints of the body including ankles, wrists, elbows, fingers and toes.

The most common symptom of arthritis is pain; pain with moving and pain when sitting too long. The joint can also swell and be affected by changes in the weather. Many arthritis sufferers feel stiffness in the morning and it starts to loosen up with activity. People with arthritis often feel popping and crunching in their joints.

Preventing arthritis is much better than treating it. Get your weight where it should be because wear and tear from carrying extra weight will cause arthritis. Stretching and strengthening will prevent arthritis. This is especially important for your larger muscle groups like quadriceps and hamstrings. Avoid unnecessary trauma to joints such as from falls or car accidents, but running does not cause damage to joints. Again, studies have shown that running does not cause arthritis.

Treating arthritis is not complicated and orthopedic sports specialists deal with this problem frequently. Therapy can be very effective. A steroid shot is called “a miracle” by many patients. However, the most important aspect of treating arthritis is first confirming that you have the correct diagnosis.

Almost every day I see patients who were told by another doctor that they have arthritis and that they need surgery. However, most people can be improved or even cured without surgery. If you did not have an x-ray, then arthritis has not been confirmed. Popping and swelling is a symptom of arthritis but the only way to know for certain is get an x-ray and have an orthopedist review it with you.

I always recommend getting a second opinion before you go for major surgery such as total knee or total hip replacement. Some surgeons push patients to surgery too quickly. Find an orthopedic doctor you trust and ask questions. Surgery is almost never the first line of treatment.

Carbs

Why We Need Carbs

 

Nutrition advice and diet books are a dime a dozen. It seems like every season there is a new diet fad, a new supplement to try, or a new book that guarantees weight loss. Even the educated consumer can become confused by all the different choices, which may make it difficult to determine the best way to be healthy and to lose weight.

The low carb/no carb craze became very popular with the Atkins Diet. Different versions of this model are still widely accepted as the best way to lose weight. Many people swear by the no carb diet, but is this the most effective and healthiest way to shed pounds?

Even though many people have success on carbohydrate free diets, it is not ideal because our bodies absolutely need carbohydrates to survive. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for the body because they are easier to break down than fats and they spare protein for more important roles in the body. Additionally, the brain ONLY uses glucose (which comes from carbohydrates) to function. Therefore, if you do not consume enough carbohydrates, your body will break down protein in your muscles to use for fuel for the brain. This is the last thing that we want!

That does not mean we should binge on carbohydrate rich foods. You must choose wisely among starches, but you should not eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet.  Fruits, vegetables, and starches all have carbohydrates. Most of your daily carbohydrates should come from fruit and vegetable intake.  Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which are essential to human health and well- being. Phytonutrients contain antioxidants, which are compounds that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which, in turn, affect metabolism. Eliminating fruits and vegetables from your diet may have a negative impact on weight loss and on your health.

Since different types of carbohydrates break down into sugar at different rates, it is important to select high fiber, nutrient dense starches rather than simple sugars to avoid weight gain.  This is because simple sugars enter the bloodstream and are absorbed quickly, causing blood sugar levels to increase rapidly. This spikes insulin levels and over time your body may become resistant to this insulin. The job of insulin is to get sugar into the cells of your body where it is converted into energy or stored as fat.  As the body develops insulin resistance, there can be increased hunger and weight gain. Your body may also stop responding to the hormone, which could result in diabetes.

Simple sugars and processed foods metabolize quickly into sugar (glucose) and are mostly empty calories. Additionally, most of these items are filled with chemicals and do not contain important nutrients. Conversely, fruits, vegetables, and beans are filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which enter your bloodstream slowly and stabilize your metabolism.

Healthy grains with high fiber can be incorporated into the diet, but they should not contain sugar or be processed. People tend to overeat grains and they may cause inflammation, so it is best to limit them or measure them out into a very small portion if you are trying to lose weight. If you do eat grains, it is also a good idea to eat gluten free to decrease inflammation to the gut while dieting.

The bottom line is that carbohydrates are not the enemy, but sugar certainly is. Eat a variety of fresh, organic foods and stay away from anything processed. Drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. This is the answer to weight loss.

Golf Help

Dynamic Golf Specific Stretches

Are you a golfer?

Is it a hassle to get loose before a round? Is it time consuming?

Hitting balls at the range and spending time at the putting green is important, however; stretching for 10 minutes pre-round can be saving you strokes too! So maybe it is in your best interest to stop your practice session 10 minutes early and follow these golf friendly warm-ups!

Static stretching is not what you want to do prior to a round of golf.  Instead, opt for dynamic stretches.  Dynamic stretching accomplishes many things.  It increases blood flow, increases range of motion, increases your awareness of joint position, and improves your athletic performance.

These golf specific stretches will not only loosen your body but will provide you with a strong/powerful foundation leaving you with a faster swing and leading to further shots.

Shoulder Blade Retraction

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms out perpendicular to the ground while holding a resistance band.  Pull the band apart while keeping arms perpendicular to the ground and posture still.

Overhead Squat

 Place a club over your head with your arms fully extended.  Have both hands on each end of the club.  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down until your thighs are close to parallel with the ground.

Golfers Lunge

 Drop down into a lunge, then try and touch your elbow to the back of your foot. For example, if your left leg is the lead leg use your left elbow to touch your left foot. This extra movement will further stretch the gluteus muscle.

Bent-Over T-Spine Extension

This is a great stretch to open your thoracic spine, which is your mid-back. Get into a golf stance and bend over a little further than normal. Place both arms below with your palms up. Reach around and behind you with one arm while watching that hand.

Hamstring Stretch

 To perform this stretch, sit on the ground with your right leg stretched out in front of you and your left knee bent with your foot facing your right knee. Keep your chest up and back straight. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.

 

By Scott Sessions CPT

Man in bed

Sleep for Testosterone Production

Man In Bed Woken By Alarm On Mobile Phone

When men think of testosterone production and function, they mostly think about exercise and vigor.  But one very important component that is commonly overlooked, is sleep.  In a study that was conducted with young men, getting less than five hours of sleep per night drastically reduced their testosterone levels as compared with a full night’s sleep.  The reduction in testosterone levels were mostly observed between the hours of 2pm and 10pm on the days when they had five hours of sleep or less.  Five hours of sleep showed a 10-15% decrease in testosterone levels.  This study also found that skimping on sleep can reduce a young man’s testosterone levels by the same amount as aging 10-15 years.

Poor and little sleep have been shown to be endocrine disrupters, which means that many of our hormones are not able to function optimally, including testosterone.  Testosterone is not just important for your libido, but also involved in regulating metabolism, building strength, and reproduction.  There is a natural reduction in testosterone levels as men age by about 1%-2% each year.  Low levels of testosterone are associated with a low sex drive, fatigue, a depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating.  Paying attention to sleep quality and duration is one major way that anyone can mitigate their decline in testosterone, along with regular exercise.  Remember, it’s not just about being physically active.  Recovery is an equally important component, and specifically, a good night’s sleep.

By Rima Sidhu