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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Are football players too obese?

Jeffrey Potteiger, professor of exercise science, and Maggie McGowan-Stinski, senior athletic training major, set out to determine how body size has changed in college and professional football players over the past 70 years.

“We started to take a look at providing the information that sports medicine personnel need to be aware of in order to effectively protect the health of the players under their care,” Potteiger said. “In football, the most at-risk athletes are the offensive and defensive linemen.”

The research duo determined that players have gained an average of between a quarter of a pound to one-and-a-quarter pound per year since 1942. This equates to an average 60-pound increase in body mass for offensive and defensive linemen.

Potteiger said the most common diseases resulting from excess body mass and body fat, especially around the abdominal area, include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. He added that hitting the gym and eating more aren’t the only ways athletes are attempting to gain body mass.

“The use of growth promoting agents, such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones and insulin carry side effects that range from mild to severe,” Potteiger said. “The severity of the side effects is dependent on the dosage level of the growth promoting agents and the length of time the agents are consumed.”

To help athletes increase their body size in a healthier manner, Potteiger recommends the following:

  • Strive for lean body mass increases of less than one pound per week;
  • Maintain good nutritional intake by eating one to one-and-a-half grams of protein for every two pounds of body mass;
  • Eat adequate carbohydrates while avoiding excessive calories;
  • Perform a resistance training program three-to-five days per week; and
  • Leave plenty of room for rest and recovery.

The full study, “Protecting the Metabolic Health of Football Players With High Fat Mass,” can be found in Strength and Conditioning Journal.

A future for skiing in a warmer world

Chances are if you know anything about Norway, you know it’s a place where skiing was born.

Norse mythology describes gods and goddesses hunting on skis, and 4000-year-old petroglyphs from northern Norway include some of the earliest known drawings of people on skis. One of the most recognizable Norwegian paintings worldwide depicts two skiers in 1206 fleeing to safety with the country’s two-year-old prince, Håkon Håkonsson.

Over the centuries, skiing in Norway has evolved from a practical mode of winter transport to a sport that is deeply ingrained in Norwegian culture. Norwegians themselves like to say they enter the world uniquely prepared for their northern home — because they are “born with skis on their feet.”

But warmer weather due to climate change has made for less-than-stellar ski conditions in Norway and across Europe. Advances in snowmaking, where water is “seeded” with a protein from a bacterium that allows snow to be made at temperatures right around freezing, simply aren’t enough to keep up with the changing climate.

In response, a team of Norwegian researchers has been awarded a NOK 2.3 million grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Culture to develop a new approach to snowmaking — one that would allow snow to be made in an energy-efficient way, even at warmer temperatures. The project has been named, appropriately enough, “Snow for the Future.”

Putting heat pumps to work

Traditional snowmaking makes up for a lack of snow by spraying water into cold air, and letting physics do the rest. But if temperatures are above freezing, this simply won’t work, for obvious reasons.

Researchers at SINTEF, Scandinavia’s largest independent research institute, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have worked extensively with a type of technology called a heat pump. They think that heat pumps could be key to producing snow in an environmentally friendly way, even at higher temperatures. Your refrigerator and freezer are examples of appliances that use heat pumps to regulate temperatures.

“One of the main aims of the project will be to find out how we can produce snow regardless of the outdoor temperature, and to develop energy-efficient ways of doing it,” says Petter Nekså, an energy research scientist at SINTEF.

Nekså thinks that one feasible approach is to develop heat pumps where the cold side can be used to produce snow, while the warm side is used for heating.

“If the air outside is cold, traditional snow cannons work very well. But these are temperature dependent,” says Nekså. “At higher temperatures, you need a refrigeration plant to make snow. The advantage is that the process is independent of air temperatures.”

What can make the process energy efficient is heating a building with the heat generated by the heat pump as it cools water to be made into snow, Nekså says.

“In this way, we can heat indoor facilities while also making artificial snow for ski slopes outside — virtually cost free,” he says.

Using heat and cold from heat pump technology

The approach involves adapting current heat pump technology, says Jacob Stang, one of Nekså’s colleagues at SINTEF.

“A traditional snow production facility that makes snow at zero degrees outdoors has no ‘hot side’,” Stang says. “That means we need a heat pump that has the properties of a refrigeration plant. We have to adapt components, such as an evaporator and condenser, to get them to work together.”

Storage and use

The project will be conducted in collaboration with the city of Trondheim, where SINTEF and NTNU are based, and the Norwegian Ski Federation (NSF).

The researchers are also hoping to develop better ways of storing snow, which is an approach many ski areas use as a hedge against warmer temperatures. Currently, many ski area use sawdust to store artificial snow that can be spread on slopes and trails when the weather doesn’t deliver the white stuff on its own. While this is a proven approach, over time the sawdust loses its insulating properties and has to be replaced.

The project will also identify new ways of making sure that ski areas get as much benefit as they can out of manufactured snow. The researchers will look at everything from the design and drainage of ski runs, to protection from sun and rain, salting and snow preparation.

Technology transfer from the fisheries industry

Researchers will conduct lab experiments, use computer models and simulations, create prototypes and undertake field tests.

“Norway has a long tradition and expertise in this field,” says Trygve M. Eikevik, a professor in NTNU’s Department of Energy and Process Engineering. “The fishery sector produces around 300 thousand tonnes of ice each year for fish export. This is enough to cover an 8-metre-wide, 150-kilometre-long ski trail with a layer of ice that is 0.5 metres thick. It is more than possible to manufacture snow for skiing.”

The NSF hopes the project will increase the chances that Norway will be able to host World Championships in skiing in the future, but officials are most concerned about maintaining skiing as a pastime in Norway. Communities across the country promote skiing by maintaining easily accessible, lighted and groomed ski trails and encouraging ski clubs. This strong system recruits young people to skiing, which has led to Norway’s prominence in both alpine and cross-country ski competitions. It also helps keep people healthy, by encouraging them to get outside to exercise in the winter.

“The challenges posed by climate change represent perhaps the greatest threat to ski sports. This is why we’re very pleased that this project is taking off,” says Marit Gjerland, who is a ski run consultant for the NSF. “Good results from the project will mean a lot for the future of ski sports.”

She says the technology could also expand the popularity of skiing, by making snow available in places where it previously wasn’t.

“Just like we have artificial football pitches, we could also create future snow parks,” she says.

Research centre for snow technology

One of the aims of the project is to establish a snow technology research centre based in Trondheim, where both Norwegian and international projects could be carried out.

“We envisage the development of more efficient refrigeration plants and snow production concepts, facilities designed for combined snow and heat production, and a total concept that integrates data models with meteorological data,” says Eikevik.

“We hope this will help promote innovation and business development related to future snow production facilities,” he says.

Water Polo

Water polo is an intense sport that requires athletes to tread water and swim for long periods. There is a version for younger athletes that allows them to stand in shallow water or hang onto the side of the pool, but this is illegal in competitive water polo.

Acute and overuse injuries are common in water polo. Acute injuries usually occur when guarding a player or wrestling for the ball. Overuse injuries are often the result of repeated swimming and throwing motions and treading water. As in many sports, the risk of injury increases with age due to the style of play, contact forces, and size of athletes. However, the risk of injuries can be reduced.

The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about how to prevent water polo injuries. Also included is an overview of common injuries.

Injury prevention and safety tips

  • Sports physical exam. Athletes should have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) to make sure they are ready to safely begin the sport. The best time for a PPE is about 4 to 6 weeks before the beginning of the season. Athletes also should see their doctors for routine well-child checkups.
  • Fitness. Athletes should maintain a good fitness level during the season and off-season. Preseason training should allow time for general conditioning and sport-specific conditioning. Athletes with poor stamina are more likely to get hurt both in and out of the water. Also important are proper warm-up and cool-down exercises.
  • Technique. Athletes should learn and practice safe techniques for performing the skills that are integral to their sport. Athletes should be confident in their ability to swim in close spaces with others. If not, they should begin playing in the shallow end in case they need to stand. Athletes should work with coaches and athletic trainers on achieving proper technique.
  • Equipment. Safety gear should fit properly and be well maintained.
    • Polo caps with ear guards to reduce the risk of ear injury
    • Mouth guards
    • Swim goggles
    • Sunscreen protection (sunscreen, lip balm with sunblock) when swimming outdoors
  • Environment. Pool water should be checked by persons in charge of pool maintenance. Excess chemicals and chlorine may cause eye irritation and skin rashes. Hypothermia may occur when playing in cold water.
  • Rules. Water polo can be very rough. Much of the “contact” takes place underwater, where referees cannot see well. These fouls are often missed and can lead to injury. Parents and coaches should encourage good sportsmanship and fair play. For instance, athletes should never dunk an opponent under the water.
  • Emergency plan. Teams should develop and practice an emergency plan so that team members know their roles in emergency situations in or out of the water. The plan would include first aid and emergency contact information. All members of the team should receive a written copy each season. Parents also should be familiar with the plan and review it with their children.

Common injuries

Eye injuries

Eye injuries commonly occur in sports that involve balls but can also result from a finger in the eye. Any injury that affects vision or is associated with swelling or blood inside the eye should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist. Water polo players should wear swim goggles during practice and competition. The AAP recommends that children involved in organized sports wear appropriate protective eyewear.

Head injuries

Concussions often occur when an athlete gets hit in the head by another athlete (usually from their elbow). A concussion is any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion range from subtle to obvious and usually happen right after the injury but may take hours to days to show up. Athletes who have had concussions may report feeling normal before their brain has fully recovered. With most concussions, the player is not knocked out or unconscious.

Prematurely returning to play after a concussion can lead to another concussion or even death. An athlete with a history of concussion is more susceptible to another injury than an athlete with no history of concussion.

All concussions are serious, and all athletes with suspected concussions should not return to play until they see a doctor.

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries usually occur from repetitive throwing and swimming motions. This may be due to weak muscles in the back and trunk of the body. Usually rehabilitation exercises focused on good posture and muscles of the shoulder blade and core, icing, medication, and rest are all that is necessary for treatment.

Finger injuries

Finger injuries occur when the finger is struck by the ball or an opponent’s hand or body. The “jammed finger” is often overlooked because of the myth that nothing needs to be done, even if it is broken. If fractures that involve a joint or tendon are not properly treated, permanent damage can occur.

Any injury that is associated with a dislocation, deformity, inability to straighten or bend the finger, or significant pain should be examined by a doctor. X-rays may be needed. Buddy tape may be all that is needed to return to sports; however, this cannot be assumed without an exam and x-ray. Swelling often persists for weeks to months after a finger joint sprain. Ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and range of motion exercises are important for treatment.

Knee injuries

Patellar pain syndrome is a common overuse injury from prolonged kicking and treading water. It causes pain in the front of the knee, sometimes associated with a bump, and can be severe. It is treated with ice, stretching, NSAIDs, and relative rest.

Athletes should see a doctor as soon as possible if they cannot walk on the injured knee. Athletes should also see a doctor if the knee is swollen, a pop is felt at the time of injury, or the knee feels loose or like it will give way.

Soccer Safety Tips

Soccer (known as football outside the United States) is one of the most popular team sports in the world. Soccer also can be a way to encourage children to be physically active while they learn about teamwork and sportsmanship.

With the growing popularity of soccer comes a greater number of injuries. However, the risk of injury can be reduced.

Tips to Help Prevent Soccer Injuries

  • Equipment. Players should use the right equipment.
    • Protective Mouthguards
    • Protective Eyewear. Glasses or goggles should be made with polycarbonate or a similar material. The material should conform to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
    • Shoes. Cleats should provide sufficient heel/arch support and grip.
    • Balls. Soccer balls should be water-resistant, the right size based on age, and properly inflated.
    • Preseason Training. There is growing evidence that preseason conditioning and balance training may reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
  • Fair Play. Violent behavior and aggressive play increase the risk of injury and should be strongly discouraged. Parents and coaches should encourage good sportsmanship and fair play.
  • Field Conditions. Uneven playing surfaces can increase risk of injury, especially in outdoor soccer. The field should be checked for holes or irregularities. Goal posts should be secured to the ground at all times even when not in use. Follow installation guidelines from the manufacturers and Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Heading Technique. The risk of a head injury is comparable to other contact/collision sports, though evidence does not support repeated heading as a risk for short- or long-term cognitive issues. However, to reduce the risk of injury from heading the soccer ball, players should be taught proper heading technique at the appropriate age and with an appropriate-sized ball.
    Excessive heading drills should be discouraged until more is known about the effects on the brain. Also, no recommendations regarding the use of helmets or cushioned pads to reduce head injury in soccer can be made at this time. More research and established safety standards and regulations are needed.

Common Soccer Injuries

Soccer injuries in general occur when players collide with each other or when players collide with the ground, ball, or goalpost. They also may result from nonbody contact, such as from running, twisting/turning, shooting, and landing. The most common types of injuries in youth soccer are sprains and strains, followed by contusions (bruises). Most injuries are minor, requiring basic first aid or a maximum of 1 week’s rest from playing soccer.

  • Ankle & Knee Injuries. Most ankle and knee injuries do not result from contact with another player. Ankle injuries are more common in male players and knee injuries are more common in female players. ACL injuries are relatively common knee injuries. Most of these injuries happen not from coming in contact with another player, but from sudden stops and pivots. ACL injury risk-reduction programs are recommended for female adolescents.
  • Heel Pain. Irritation of the growth plate of the heel bone (Sever’s Disease) is common in youth soccer. This can be treated with calf stretching, activity modification (avoid extra running), heel cups or arch supports, ice, and antiinflammatory medicine.
  • Head Injuries. Concussions are common in soccer. They usually occur when a player’s head collides with another player’s head, shoulder, or arm, or the ground. Females tend to have a slightly higher concussion risk than males. Concussions temporarily affect brain function, although loss of consciousness or blackout may or may not happen. All concussions are serious and need to be evaluated by a doctor before players can return to play. The signs and symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and usually happen right after the injury, but may take hours to days to show up. With most concussions, the player is not knocked out or unconscious.
  • Mouth, Face & Teeth Injuries. Soccer is one of the leading causes of mouth, facial, anddental injuries in sports (second only to basketball). Use of protective mouthguards may help reduce the number of injuries.
  • Eye Injuries. Eye injuries are rare, but when they occur they are often severe, resulting in damage to the eye globe or blowout fractures of the eye socket. Protective eyewear is recommended for all soccer players.