Student-Athletes Not Sleeping Enough, Intervention Could Help

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This article was submitted by University of Arizona News courtesy of Michael Grandner, UA College of Medicine….feel free to comment on this article below…..

stresssleepingCollege athletes are not getting enough sleep, but a simple intervention built around education and support could go a long way in improving sleep quality and, in turn, athletic performance, University of Arizona researchers said during the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Michael Grandner, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Sleep Health Research Center at the UA College of Medicine, and Amy Athey, director of clinical and sport psychology services for Arizona Athletics, were awarded an NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant last year to study sleep habits in college athletes. They were one of four teams awarded the NCAA grant, which supports studies designed to enhance student-athletes’ psychosocial well-being and mental health.

Together, Grandner and Athey developed Project REST – which stands for Recovery Enhancement and Sleep Training – to encourage student-athletes to develop healthier sleeping habits. They presented their findings at the NCAA’s annual convention on Thursday.

In a survey of 189 UA student-athletes, Grandner and Athey found that 68 percent reported poor sleep quality, with 87 percent getting less than or equal to eight hours of sleep a night and 43 percent getting less than seven hours. About 23 percent of the athletes surveyed reported experiencing excessive levels of fatigue.

While seven hours is considered the minimum amount of sleep a typical adult should get, college students – especially highly active ones, like athletes – need at least eight to nine hours for optimal functioning, Grandner said in an interview.

“Student-athletes have a lot of reasons why their sleep would be disturbed,” Grandner said. “They have a lot of time demands, they have a lot of physical demands, they have a lot of mental demands, and they’re trying to balance athletics, academics and sometimes employment, and this can set up the perfect storm for bad sleep.”

Poor sleep can have far-reaching effects, no matter who you are. For athletes, it can impact not only the way they feel physically and mentally but how they perform in their sport, Grandner said.

“Some of the most prominent effects of disturbed sleep can be reduced physical performance, reduced mental and cognitive performance, reduced recovery time from injury and worse mental health,” Grandner said. Slower reaction times, impaired decision-making abilities and even depression can result from poor sleep, he added.

While many programs exist to address student-athletes’ nutrition and fitness, Grandner and Athey didn’t know of any that specifically target student-athletes’ sleep, so they developed Project REST – a model they hope may be adopted by college athletics programs nationwide.

The researchers enrolled 40 student-athletes in the intervention program, which started with a two-hour education and Q&A session that covered what good sleep is and why it is important and tips for improving sleep. Study participants then wore Fitbits to track their sleep habits over a 10-week period, and recorded information about the duration and quality of their sleep in online sleep diaries.

Throughout the study, students had 24/7 access to peers trained to support them and answer their questions. Participants also received daily text messages from study coordinators, including reminders about the study, tips for healthy sleep and random sleep facts. About half of the participants also received sunglasses designed to block UV and blue light, and a programmable light bulb.

At the end of the study period, participants reported a number of positive effects, including better sleep quality, less insomnia, more energy and less time spent lying awake in bed. Nearly 83 percent of the student-athletes said their sleep was better, and nearly 89 percent felt their athletic performance was positively affected. They also reported less stress and greater ability to focus.

The most useful part of the intervention, according to participants, was the initial information session. They also liked being able to monitor sleep habits with the Fitbit.

Athey, who works directly with the student-athlete population as a psychologist for Arizona Athletics, often encounters students with sleep issues, and says the data from the study backs up what she already suspected anecdotally.

When students come to Athey with sleep issues, she encourages them to make minor lifestyle adjustments to improve sleep – like maintaining a consistent sleep schedule or reducing exposure to mobile-device screens close to bedtime, for example – while more severe problems are referred to a sleep specialist.

Athey is optimistic that her partnership with Grandner, a sleep expert, can help introduce useful tools to the larger student-athlete population.

“With a really simple educational intervention and opportunities for learning over a number of weeks, student-athletes were able to make changes that had a real impact,” she said of Project REST.

While Grandner and Athey targeted the student-athlete population specifically, Project REST could be modified and adopted by different campus groups nationwide, since college students across-the-board often struggle with sleep, Grandner said.

“It’s just education and support,” he said. “There’s no reason this should be limited to student-athletes.”

Concussion Tests Are Essential For Student Athletes

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your thoughts below…..

didyouknow?Concussions are one of the most common and most difficult sports injuries to manage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.6 million and 3.8 million brain injuries occur in sports each year, with around 63,000 affecting high school athletes. With recent advances in neuroscience, sports medicine clinicians are discovering new and better methods to protect brain health.

Sports concussion experts agree that the diagnosis of acute concussion usually involves the assessment of a range of domains, including clinical symptoms, physical signs, behavior, balance, sleep and cognition. The Medicine in Motion team uses special computerized testing to evaluate whether an athlete is suffering from a concussion. This tool, in combination with a physician evaluation, is the best way to determine the presence of a concussion and when it is resolved, thereby allowing an athlete to return to play.

“The absolute best way to manage concussions is to have baseline testing prior to the start of a sports season,” said Dr. Martha Pyron, Austin sports medicine doctor and owner of Medicine in Motion. “If a head injury does occur, we then repeat the test for comparison. By doing this, there is a unique and direct comparison from healthy brain to concussion for the clinician to evaluate.”

When to use concussion testing?

1. Athletes involved in contact sports (such as football) should have a baseline test before the season begins.

2. Athletes incurring an injury should be evaluated, regardless of whether or not they received a baseline test.

3. Anyone who has had repeated concussions in the past should be tested to determine the possibility of any long term complications.

4. Non-sports participants that receive head injuries should also be tested to evaluate cognitive abilities.

5. Parents of athletes should have their children baseline tested every other year until they reach adulthood to ensure their brains are protected.

Medicine in Motion (MIM) specializes in providing top quality sports medicine in Austin, Texas, for athletic individuals of all ages and levels. The staff at MIM believes active bodies are healthy bodies, therefore it is the office’s goal to keep patients energetic and fit. To that end, MIM provides treatment of injuries and illnesses, including the use of physical rehabilitation; promotes healthy living with personal training and nutrition coaching; and offers comprehensive sports medicine evaluations to optimize health, activity level and sports performance. For more information or for questions regarding sports medicine in Austin, contact Medicine in Motion at 512-257-2500 or visit the website at

ACL Injury And Female Athletes

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your comments below…..

girljogPhysical Therapist Robert Fay with Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training Provides Tips on Injury Prevention.

An audible “pop” often signals a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, one of the most common – and dreaded – injuries for young athletes, particularly girls. Among the approximately 150,000 ACL injuries every year in the United States, various estimates put the number sustained by women at two to eight times those suffered by men. And female athletes between the ages of 15 and 19 account for the highest number of ACL injuries.

No other common orthopedic injury is as terrifying, as disabling or as damaging to a young athlete’s career. A torn ACL requires surgery and six to nine months of recovery and rehabilitation before a return to the playing field. And having torn an ACL once increases the risk of suffering a second injury to the ligament as well as the risk of early onset of osteoarthritis in the knee. “The short- and long-term consequences of a ruptured ACL have prompted the development of conditioning programs designed to prevent the injury,” says Robert Fay, clinical director at Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training. “Since the factors that affect the risk of ACL injury may be different for every girl, a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified physical therapist can help each athlete undertake training that will improve her odds of staying healthy.”

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of four primary ligaments that connect the bones that comprise the knee joint. The ACL, located in the middle of the knee, connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thighbone (femur). It acts to stabilize the knee and prevent the lower leg from sliding too far forward. While an ACL rupture can result from contact, as in a football tackle, the vast majority, especially in girls, are caused by stopping suddenly, changing direction rapidly, or landing a jump incorrectly. The high school sports that put girls most at risk are the ones that require those motions: soccer, basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.

Why do girls suffer more ACL injuries?

Starting at puberty, a surge in testosterone in boys produces more muscle, making them stronger but less flexible. Girls at puberty tend to add fat rather than muscle and their ligaments are more lax, making them more flexible but with less supporting muscle mass and strength to keep joints stable. “Biomechanical studies have also shown differences in how girls and boys use their muscles,” says Mr. Fay. “For example, they land a jump differently and they run differently, with less neuromuscular control of the knee. Fortunately, these factors can be modified with proper conditioning and the risk of ACL damage reduced.”

Preventing ACL Injuries

A physical therapist or training professional can develop a sport-specific program designed to reduce the risk of ACL injuries. These programs focus on plyometrics, balance, and exercises that improve strength and stability.

* Plyometrics are repetitive jumping exercises that are comprised of rapid, powerful movements that first lengthen a muscle then shorten it, a contraction cycle that increases muscular power. The exercises progress in difficulty using elements like squat jumps, broad jumps, and hopping. Girls are trained to land softly with a bent leg and bent hip, rather than stiff-legged.

* Balance training uses various devices – boards, discs, stability balls – and a combination of exercises performed on one leg.

* Training to improve strength and stability covers a wide range that includes focusing on the core, the gluteal muscles, and using the hamstring when landing rather than relying on the quadriceps, which puts strain on the ACL.

Training is the primary component of a strategy to minimize the risk of injury for young athletes but it isn’t the only one. “Kids are often encouraged to concentrate early – sometimes as early as middle school – on a single sport,” Mr. Fay says. “That means they’re using the same muscles every day. And with the growth of club sports, traveling teams and specialized camps, they’re playing that sport more often, even all year round. Their muscles never get a chance to recover and they have many more opportunities to get hurt. Proper conditioning, taking breaks, and playing more than one sport in the adolescent years can build strength and endurance and help support a healthy athlete for years to come.”

Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training provides personalized, integrative, and skilled one-on-one physical therapy services.

– Robert Fay, PT, MHSc, OCS, STC, CSCS , clinical director and owner at Armonk Physical Therapy & Sports Training, has more than 15 years of clinical experience in orthopedics and sports medicine including working with college and professional athletes.

Disabled Athletes Excel At World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge

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newsTen teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes rafted the Colorado River, rode mountain bikes and hand cycles, and completed a ropes course at the September 12-14 Adventure Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports.

High in the rugged Gore Range northwest of Vail, Colorado, ten teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes rafted the Colorado River, rode mountain bikes and hand cycles, and completed a ropes course in pursuit of outdoor adventure. At the September 12-14 Adventure Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, disabilities proved to be no more than an inconvenience to participating athletes who successfully completed the three stage event.

Each participating team of five athletes included two with disabilities, one being a wheelchair user. Since 2007, the annual team event offers an inclusive adventure for disabled and able-bodied participants. The athletes with disabilities not only experience the excitement of outdoor sports, but also are a moving inspiration to other participants and to the public, who see that the disabled can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination.

The Challenge returned to the remote Rancho del Rio resort this year, following two years in the high desert near Grand Junction. Although many participants for the Challenge came from Colorado, other athletes traveled from Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, California and New Brunswick, Canada. Athlete disabilities included amputees, paralysis, blindness, post traumatic stress and other injuries, with several participants being injured veterans.

At the event’s conclusion, the Boulder, Colorado-based Berserkers managed to hold off the surging Bootleggers and claimed their second victory in as many years. The Bootleggers nearly overcame a 12 minute deficit on Sunday in a remarkable effort to deny the Berserkers of their championship, but fell one minute short.

Two other teams – the Green Machines and Purple Rain – tied in their timing between the two days of competition, arriving about 25 minutes after the top two teams. The last place Mercenaries completed the competition at more than two hours behind the top teams.

This year’s Challenge began with a Friday afternoon prologue at Rancho del Rio along the south bank of the Colorado River. On Saturday, teams were transported 1,600 vertical feet above Radium for a fast-paced downhill start on bicycles and hand cycles. Beginning at 8,550 feet above sea level on a sunny ridge overlooking the shadowy canyon, teams descended nearly six miles on a rocky dirt road at blinding speeds to the river crossing at 6,870 feet.

Following the descent, teams ascended a steep incline, than began a cross-country journey along confusing tracks and trails. By early afternoon, teams were descending again to the Colorado River, where waiting rafts guided them to their next challenge, a ropes course set on the granite bluffs overlooking Radium Hot Springs. Here, the paraplegic athletes were sent across the river on a high zip line before teams returned to camp.

On Sunday, teams began on rafts, stopping for check points along the Colorado River. At the Piney River, teams headed south, reaching an old homestead and another check point. Returning to the launching ramp at State Bridge, the teams climbed onto their waiting bicycles and hand cycles for the ride back to camp.

At Rancho del Rio, teams arrived to cheers. At the finish line, friends, family and staff welcomed the athletes to a well-deserved celebratory lunch.

The 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado was supported through sponsorships and partnerships from Pearl Meyer & Partners, Benson Botsford LLC, Devens Recycling Center, Front Street Re, The Independence Fund, INTEGRATED Healthcare Strategies, Oregon Adaptive Sports and Timberline Tours. Additional support was provided by James Benson and George Puskar. Van Brinson, World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President, announced September 14 that the Challenge will return to Rancho del Rio in September, 2015.

– Courtesy of PRWeb

AMA Sports Medicine Confirms Need For Cross-Training Among Young Athletes

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By Warren Potash

boyssportsYouth sports participation over the past 20+ years has resulted in more sports injuries than ever before – not due to more female athletes playing sports. Obviously, this has caused the American Medical Association [AMA] take a hard look at what can be done to reverse this trend. The AMA issued a Position Paper in November 2013 that broadly reflects their concerns. This is a few of the points made:

* Sport specialization may be considered as intensive, year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports.

* There is concern that early sport specialization may increase rates of overuse injury and sport burnout…

* Diversified sports training during early and middle adolescence may be more effective in developing elite-level skills in the primary sport due to skill transfer.

Reference found here…..

These points are very important issues. What’s interesting is that I wrote They’re Not Boys – Safely Training the Adolescent Female Athlete [2012] to provide quality information about the too high injury rate in female sports participation. The AMA’s Sports Medicine division almost two (2) years later came to identical recommendations. So, what can adults who are volunteer coaches learn from this valuable information?

Cross training, using the body in different ways, during early ages is best accomplished by having youngsters play more than one sport. I discourage real training to play sports at early ages and encourage youngsters to have FUN and performing movement patterns that lead to rhythm and coordination. Therefore, the one sport athlete should not be encouraged despite what is happening in youth sports today.

Even though burnout and overuse injuries do not have evidence-based research to prove out the recommendation about early sport specialization, it stands to reason that if the same muscle groups are used the same way over time – the possibility of injuries and burnout are greater; it’s common sense.

teensElite-level skill development is just that. How many elite-level athletes are there who can demand the type of attention from college coaches? Not many!! About 4 million youngsters are in a pool from their youth sport days and less than one percent (1%) obtains the offers. So, for the vast majority 99%+, it’s far better to train to play sports after trying different sports. This allows each athlete the opportunity to decide in early adolescence whether they want to specialize in just one sport; i.e., the one (or two) sports they most enjoy.

Let’s be clear about the carrot and stick approach in youth sports today. Volunteer coaches tell athletes and parents that if you play with my team, you will gain more exposure from college coaches leading to a scholarship offer. While this has truth to the statement, the facts are that very few female athletes receive scholarships just based on their athletic ability.

Did you know that an athlete who has very good to excellent grades will get money from a D III school than an athlete without top grades? How can that be? D III doesn’t offer scholarships. Coaches are seeking “coachable” athletes and those who excel in time management for academics and sports, etc. The admissions departments often work with coaches to provide scholarship dollars to help these athletes matriculate at their schools.

Youth sports and adolescent sport participation is really life skills training that an individual realizes many years after their sport participation days are completed. Learning responsibility for their own actions and in team sports understanding how a group of athletes needs to work together for the common good helps young women mature into adulthood.

The emphasis needs to be on movement, fitness, sport, and life skills training. A leading trainer of professional, elite athletes puts it this way: “Based on the statistics, we have failed in our physical education and physical fitness programs for youth.” (SkillFit – A Blueprint for Building Physical Skills, Youth Edition. Kent Johnston; 2013)

Make certain you understand why your child(ren) is playing sports and make sure that sport participation provides opportunities for FUN and fitness first – not winning from an early age that can be detrimental to long term success. Youngsters need a program where they have FUN, develop movement patterns and sport skills that are safe and age-appropriate so they are minimizing their risk for injury and becoming the best student-athlete each can be.

Warren J. Potash, Specialist in Exercise Therapy and Sports Nutrition and Sports Performance Coach Author: They’re Not Boys – Safely Training the Adolescent Female Athlete (2012) and co-author Your Lower Back (1993)