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  • Eat Like an Olympian - 5 Golden Foods

    Time for the Winter Olympics and athletes of all shapes, sizes and sports looking for gold. Gold medals represent the best of the best in the respective sport, but winning gold is not about just training hard; it is about fueling and recovery day-in and day-out. No athlete becomes the best and makes it to the Olympics without paying attention to the fuel he/she puts in his/her body. Winning gold requires providing your body with adequate and quality nutrition to help it build, perform and recover. Golden foods, or those that are yellow and orange in color, are full of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Why is this so important you might ask? Beta-carotene and vitamin A are both rich antioxidants! Antioxidants help fight off disease and illness by buffering free radicals, or bad guys, in your body, plus they help your body recover. Many golden foods are also high in fiber and boast of many other nutrients like vitamin C. Here are some creative ways to add gold to your training diet throughout the Olympics: 1. Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes can be a great carbohydrate choice for any meal, and you can even roast them to make sweet potato wedge “fries”. This is a fun way to allow your family to eat fries in a healthy way! Another interesting twist on sweet potatoes is to make hash out of them and pair them with eggs and veggies at breakfast. It’s a nutrient-rich way to start your day! 2. Golden beets: One of the top disliked vegetables is a beet! However, there are lots of creative ways to eat these golden spectacles of health! One of the most delicious ways is to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt, then sprinkle them with goat cheese and chopped pistachios and drizzle with some balsamic vinaigrette! Mmm mmm! 3. Peaches: Of course you can slice up a peach and eat it; skin on please! But one scrumptious dessert is to roast peaches (or slices and cook in microwave), drizzle with vanilla Greek yogurt and top with a little granola, toasted oats or chopped nuts. This is a nutrient-rich twist on a high-calorie crumble dessert you might find at a restaurant. Plus, it helps you and your family get in a serving of fruit and antioxidants. 4. Apricots: Dried apricots can be a great addition to homemade trail mix or as a pre-workout snack to give you a boost of energy. The bright golden color adds flavor and fiber! 5. Butternut squash: Most people think yellow summer squash when they think squash, but butternut is actually a winter squash that can count as your carbohydrate at dinner or in a salad. Rich in nutrients, it is a little higher in calories than summer squash, but a great whole food choice for your energy source at lunch or dinner. While it is important to consume fruits and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow, paying attention to the yellow-orange variety can help boost your immune system and give you and your kids the nutrients you all need to make it through the cold winter! Want to go for gold? Fuel with golden nutrients! Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes. Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Contact Amy @ 214-298-3411 Visit Amy's Website

  • Concussion Recovery: Physical Therapy?

    There has been a tremendous movement over the past decade to increase awareness about concussions. There are now international guidelines on concussion management in place. A typical recovery following a concussion will occur within 30 days, when the athlete is then cleared by a medical professional to return back to sport. However, it has been documented that up to 20 percent of the child and adolescent population has concussion symptoms that linger for longer than four weeks. The most common symptoms that persist post-concussion are headaches, dizziness and blurry vision. Unfortunately, an athlete with prolonged recovery can also experience varying degrees of depression and anxiety. This is one of the many reasons it is important to have a multidisciplinary team of experts treating this condition. For athletes with unresolved symptoms post-concussion, physical therapy can become a part of the patient’s care. Based on the patient’s symptoms and impairments, the doctor may additionally recommend occupational therapy and speech therapy. The young athlete may receive physical therapy to address impairments and functional limitations associated with their symptoms, as well as prepare them for returning to their sport. What is concussion-based physical therapy? After sustaining a concussion, the young athlete is referred to physical therapy, where the physical therapist evaluates the athlete so that they can detect impairments related to their symptoms. A patient’s symptoms are addressed through treatment of the identified body systems that are contributing to the prolonged symptoms. The physical therapy care for these patients, is a unique blend of vestibular therapy, neurologic rehab, vision training, balance retraining, orthopedic care and functional movement retraining. Rehab exercises can include anything as basic as eye exercises or as advanced as counting backwards by 7’s while doing a fast paced pivot turn catching drill. Prior to each child being discharged, they must improve their symptoms in combination with completion of a sport specific exertional test. In the exertional test, the athlete will be required to complete a half-hour of pre-planned activities. Each clinician conducting the test has criteria they are assessing, including any of the following: heart rate response, symptoms and ability to complete the test. Why would a young athlete need physical therapy post-concussion? In the world of sports medicine, physical therapists are part of the post-concussion care team. Physical therapists have been a part of brain rehabilitation, referred to as neurorehab, for many decades now. Since concussion is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury, neurorehab is part of the treatment to address the following domains: balance, walking patterns, coordination and the communication between the eyes, brain and inner ear system. These allow the athlete to respond to their surrounding environment, such as the ability to see a soccer ball clearly while receiving a pass from a teammate while running down the field. At the time of injury, the neck under goes forces that are related to whiplash or high rotational forces that leave the surrounding muscles feeling sore at best. Some headaches and most cases of neck pain are caused by dysfunctional movement patterns of the neck. A physical therapist can help rehabilitate the neck through a variety of techniques. A longstanding recovery can negatively affect an athlete’s conditioning; thus, the physical therapist also helps guide the patient through safe forms of exercise to gradually load the athlete’s body. This progression is based off the physician’s guidance, standardized testing, current return-to-play protocols and the athelete’s symptoms. Research is being done to investigate the relationship between common sports injuries (knee injuries, ankle injuries) and concussions. Knowing there can be a relationship between these two, a sports physical therapist will also look at a patient’s injury history to help address injury prevention and maximize an athlete’s readiness for return to sport. This is especially true when the athlete intends to engage in a contact sports. In Conclusion Post-concussion care is rapidly evolving, and with the increasing research available, we now have evidence to help kids recover. If you’re a parent suspecting your child has unresolved post-concussion symptoms, please speak to your physician about physical therapy. The goal of the clinicians is to do what they can now to help a child avoid post-injury complications that could follow them well into adulthood. References: McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport—the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 26 April 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097699 Gioia GA, Schneider JC, Vaughan CG, et al. Which symptom assessments and approaches are uniquely appropriate for paediatric concussion?. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2009;43:i13-i22. LH Tee, NWC Chee. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy for the Dizzy Patient. Annals Academy of Medicine. 2005; 34.4. 289-294. Jennifer Kieschnick, PT, DPT is a pediatric orthopedic and sports medicine physical therapist, at the Children’s HealthSM Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Plano. She attended Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and received a doctorate in physical therapy. She has been practicing physical therapy since 2010, and her special areas of interest include aiding in the recovery of young patients suffering from post-concussion symptoms, as well as guiding recovery after ACL reconstruction and general orthopedic conditions. She is certified by the Functional Movement Systems (FMS) in the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) and her passion is promoting health and wellness in young patients, through her practice in pediatric sports medicine and orthopedics.

  • Back to School – 5 Ways to Think Outside the Bag

    Back-to-school or back-to-work doesn’t have to mean back to boring, brown bag lunches. By using USDA’s MyPlate, you can create lots of different lunch options that meet your nutrition needs. Start thinking outside the “bag”! You want half your lunch to be fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide valuable vitamins and minerals to help with many of your body’s functions. Packing a variety of colors keeps the options endless. Carrots and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or layering your sandwich with spinach and tomato are all delicious options! When packing carbohydrates for lunch, make sure to choose whole grain options. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of fuel and help give you energy all day long. Branch out from the typical lunch carbs of bread and chips and try a cup of cold quinoa and bean salad, crunch on whole wheat crackers or baked veggie chips, or wrap your typical sandwich up in a whole wheat tortilla or stuff it in a multi-grain pita. Protein is important for your body to repair and rebuild muscles. Lean proteins in lunches are usually luncheon meat on sandwiches, but try a grilled chicken breast cut into strips, tuna packed in water, hardboiled egg, or even beans as a source of protein. Dairy products provide carbohydrates, protein, lots of vitamins and minerals and are essential for helping to build and maintain strong bones. MyPlate lists dairy as a side item, which can include low fat milk, yogurt, or cheese. Here are five lunches to help the keep the boredom out of the bag this fall: Some like it hot lunch: Whole wheat penne pasta with spinach and mushrooms, hardboiled egg, low fat milk, sliced watermelon Pita packed lunch: Whole grain pita stuffed with chopped grilled chicken breast, baby spinach leaves, diced tomatoes, cucumber and hummus, 2 Clementines, Greek yogurt Cool fall day lunch: Three-bean soup, brown rice, 2% string cheese, baby carrots and grape tomatoes, baggie of mixed berries My kid hates sandwiches lunch: 1 serving whole wheat crackers, 2 oz sliced grilled chicken, pre-made guacamole pack, 8 baby cubes of cheese, apple and peanut butter Slice and dice it lunch: Mixed greens loaded with veggies, 3 oz salmon, 1 oz low-fat feta cheese, ¼ cup dried cranberries, ½ cup couscous and balsamic vinaigrette Don’t get stuck in a rut while getting back into your routine schedule this fall! A few minutes of planning and creativity can have your whole family eating nutrient-rich lunches at home, school and work! Color your day with MyPlate! Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes. Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Contact Amy @ 214-298-3411 Visit Amy's Website

  • The Benefits of a Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down for Physical Activity

    It is important to perform a proper warm-up and cool-down with physical activity. Warm-ups and cool-downs increase muscle and core body temperature, prevent injury, improve performance and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.1,2,3,4,5 Before we get into the benefits let’s talk about what a warm-up is. A warm-up is either active or passive; with active being the preferred choice.1 An active warm-up can be general or specific. General includes activities such as jogging, shuffling or cycling while specific includes activities that are specific to the sport being played.1 A passive warm-up includes taking a hot shower or using a heating pad to increase muscle and core body temperature.1,2 Warm-ups and cool-downs should last anywhere between 5-20 minutes depending on the activity that is about to be performed.3 Increase in core body and muscle temperature One of the main goals of a warm up is to increase body and muscle temperature.1,2 Increasing muscle and core body temperature results in increased muscle metabolism and increased muscle fiber conduction velocity. Muscle metabolism is the ability for the cells in our muscles to produce and use energy needed for physical activity. By improving muscle metabolism athletes are able to produce and use more energy resulting in increased performance with activity.2 The central nervous system which includes our brain and spinal cord has to send a signal to our muscle fibers in order for them to activate and produce movement. As our body and muscle temperature increases, the message sent to our muscles gets faster allowing us to activate our muscles quicker.2 This is especially important for sports that involve sprinting because athletes will be able to initiate the movement quicker, sprint faster and produce more force than if they had not warmed up at all.2 Injury Prevention A dynamic warm-up that is sport specific has been shown to prevent injury risk. Authors of a 2008 study created a dynamic warm-up with the goal of decreasing injury risk for female soccer players.4 The dynamic warm-up consisted of running, jumping, balance, cutting, planks and hip activation exercises. The results of their study represented that performing a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise reduced injury risk by 35% and it could even reduce severe injury risk by 50%.4 Stretching is an important part of a warm-up but how you stretch will have a bigger impact on injury prevention. The purpose of stretching is to improve tissue flexibility without sacrificing athletic performance.5 A static stretch involves a person holding a stretch for a period of time without moving. Although this improves flexibility holding a stretch for longer the 30 seconds can have a negative impact on athletic performance.5 A better way to stretch would be the dynamic stretch. This includes stretching with movement such as a walking knee hugs, lunges with a twist, or walking straight leg kicks. Stretching in this manner decreases injury risk by improving flexibility but it also can improve power, speed, agility and endurance.5 Increase athletic performance Increasing body and muscle temperature can increase overall power and velocity. Being able to move faster and produce more power positively impacts athletic performance for all sports.1,2 Collegiate baseball players were able to improve their lower extremity explosiveness by performing a dynamic warm-up consisting of lunges, reverse lunges, knee hugs, toe touches, lateral shuffles and marching. In this study lower extremity explosiveness was measured by vertical and long jump distances. After performing a dynamic warm-up for 7 weeks prior to physical exercise the athletes were able to jump 2 inches higher and longer than those who did not perform a dynamic warm-up. 5 Decrease post exercise soreness A cool-down consists of a submaximal exercise effort in an attempt to reduce heart rate to normal, reduce breathing to normal and maintain tissue flexibility. An example of a cool-down would be walking after a sprint instead of standing still. When warm-ups are combined with a cool-down there is a chance that an athlete can decrease their post exercise soreness.3 References: Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Journal of sports medicine. 2007; 37(12):1089-1099. McGowan C, Pyne D, Thompson K, Rattray B. Warm-up strategies for sport and exercise: mechanisms and applications. Journal of sports medicine. 2015;45(11):1523-1546. Olsen O, Sjohaug M, Beekvelt M, Mork P. The effect of warm-up and cool-down exercise on delayed onset muscle soreness, in the quadriceps muscle: a randomized control trial. Journal of human kinetics. 2012;35:59-68. Soligard T, Myklebust G, Steffen K, Holme I, Silvers H, Bizzini M, Junge A, Dvorak I, Bahr R, Anderson T. Comprehensive warm-up programme to prevent injuries in young female footballers: a cluster randomized control trial. BMJ. 2008;337:a2469 Frantz T, Ruiz M. Effects of Dynamic Warm-up on lower body explosiveness among collegiate baseball players. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2011;25(11):2985-2990. Brittani Cookinham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT Is the Physical Therapy Manager at EXOS, a sports training facility in Frisco, Texas, and a United States Olympic team sports medicine volunteer. She attended Sacred Heart University where she obtained her Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

  • 6 Tips to Becoming a Better Hockey Player for Players Ages 13 and Under

    1. Become a Better Athlete Something that I have consistently seen in the many years I have been around the game both as a player and as a coach is that the best athletes off of the ice are usually the best players on the ice. Many young players want so badly to be great hockey players, and this can lead to them specializing early. With hockey requiring players to learn to ice skate, I understand why people think they need to specialize early as learning to be an elite level skater is a very demanding task and takes a lot of time and commitment. Early specialization though can stunt overall athletic development which will hurt players in the long run. Athletic attributes like hand eye coordination, foot eye coordination, speed, agility, and other fundamental athletic skills that a great athlete should excel at are acquired by playing a variety of sports. Hockey players need these athletic skill sets and should be exposed to baseball or tennis for hand eye coordination and soccer for foot eye coordination. Sports like football, basketball, and lacrosse are also great at developing athleticism. I am not saying to play all of these sports organized on a team as I know that is likely not feasible, but at a minimum getting together with friends as often as possible to play other sports can really help improve athleticism. I know several coaches that when selecting their teams at tryout time will actually run the players through off-ice drills and make some decisions based on overall athleticism. It is much easier to develop a good athlete on the ice throughout the season than it is to develop a player who is not athletic. 2. Skills, Skills, Skills Learning to play hockey differs from other sports due to the fact that you have to learn to ice skate to be able to play. Ice skating is not a natural thing like running and a lot of time and energy goes into learning how to skate. Once a player learns how to skate then they need to learn to excel with a stick and puck. Skating, stick handling, shooting, and passing are all skill sets that require a lot of repetitions to become good at. With the limited amount of time players are actually on the ice, it is vital for young players that when they are on the ice the focus is on skills. I often hear parents of players on 8U, 10U, and 12U teams frustrated because not enough time is spent on team systems which can lead to the games looking a bit sloppy with things like positioning. While I understand the desire for team success, team systems should not be prioritized over skills at the younger age groups with the limited amount of time players are actually on the ice. Parents should evaluate the development of their young players based on the level in which their skating, passing, stick handling, and shooting are improving, not the level of team success. It is very easy to teach a 15,16,17, year old player how to play a team system or proper positioning, but it is very difficult for players that age to significantly change their foundation of skating and puck skills. Skills need to the focus for younger players. 3. Watch More Hockey The term hockey sense is something you hear a lot when around hockey teams. There are a variety of interpretations of what hockey sense actually means, but generally it means understanding of the game and how smart a player is. Hockey sense is not something you can tangibly measure like size or speed, but as players get older their level of hockey sense becomes a vital part of their success. There are things within team practices that coaches do to try and help players improve hockey sense, but something I have noticed is the players that watch the most hockey usually have the best hockey sense. Watching a lot of hockey along with listening to the announcers, player interviews, and coach interviews help young players gain an understanding of the game and game situations. In addition, trying to emulate NHL players and understanding the traits successful players have can also be very beneficial for young players. 4. Nutrition Nutrition is something that is often overlooked for young athletes. I think it is even more important in hockey due to the physical demand of the sport. Every shift is equivalent to a 45 second sprint and young players will get approximately 20 shifts per game. Youth teams can often play 4-6 games in a single weekend. I have frequently seen players at the rink eating fast food or drinking sugary beverages. The nutrition choices players make pre-game and post-game can significantly impact performance and recovery. This is something we have spent a lot of time on in recent years and have seen noticeable improvements in performance late in games and late in weekends with improved nutrition. Information on sports nutrition is not that hard to find and I encourage all young players to become more educated on the relationship between nutrition and athletic performance. 5. Be Unselfish Hockey is the ultimate team sport and high-level coaches are looking for players that are unselfish and put the team first. This is a staple of the hockey culture and selfish players (even the most talented ones) get exposed as they get older. We often see young players not wanting to pass the puck trying to go end to end to score goals. While talented players at the younger levels can get away with being selfish, this catches up to them as they get older. Creating habits of playing with your head down and being selfish are detrimental to long term development. Coaches are constantly trying to preach to young players to get their head up, pass the puck, and be team players. It is very important parents are encouraging this as well. It will pay off in the long run 6. Love the Game While all of the things mentioned above are very important for a player’s success I think the most important thing young players need to be successful is a love of the game. Players need to love coming to the rink and be self-motivated to do extra to get better. Parents and coaches share responsibility to help create a positive environment for young players. While I understand that parents want their children to work hard and coaches expect players to put their maximum effort forward every practice and game, there is a fine line between being demanding and making it where players are not having fun. The day that players don’t get excited about coming to the rink there are problems. Coaches need to work hard to make sure they are pushing the players to get better, but they are having fun doing it. Parents need to make sure they are not too hard on their kids and making them dread car rides home after games and practices which leads to them not wanting to play anymore. The more the player loves playing the better they are going to become. Eric Silverman has been at the forefront of developing hockey players in the DFW area for the past 14 years. He is currently the Director of Hockey Operations for both the Dallas Stars Elite Hockey Club and the Dallas Junior Hockey Association. He also is the Head Coach of the Dallas Stars Elite 16U team and the Western Regional Manager for the United States National Team Development Program. His 16U team has been consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the United States and he has a number of alumni currently playing at the professional, college, and junior levels. Eric has an extensive hockey background. He grew up playing AAA hockey in New York and left home while in high school to play Junior A hockey for the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Eric finished his Junior career ranked as the fourth all-time leading scorer in Sioux City history. From there he earned a scholarship to play Division I college hockey at the University of Alaska Anchorage (WCHA) where he was the Seawolves’ leading goal scorer as a sophomore. After college he spent three seasons playing professional hockey. He then spent one season as an assistant coach at the Division I college level before moving to Texas in 2003.

  • 5 Tips for a Healthy Volley Ball Season

    With volleyball season getting into full swing, it is important to step back and take a minute to evaluate what are some important areas to focus on for keeping players healthy and on the court. Volleyball is a dynamic sport requiring explosive jumping ability, lateral quickness, excellent overhead arm control, and great heads-up awareness if you want to be successful. However, in order to have a great season, maintaining optimal health should also be a primary focus for players and coaches. Here are some strategies to help keep your volleyball athletes in the game and performing at their very best: 1. Start From the Ground Up Ankle sprains are the most common acute injury suffered by volleyball players, accounting for up to half of all volleyball related injuries.1 One strategy to help prevent ankle sprains is to work on balance training.2 Players can begin with single-leg balance activities on the ground, and then start making it more difficult by going onto an unstable surface, closing their eyes, or having to pass a volleyball while balancing. If there is any concern of structural instability in the ankle being present, you should seek professional medical advice about considering the use of an ankle brace. 2. Get a Great Warm-Up Another key to a healthy season is how well you prepare to practice and play every single day. A great warm-up should always begin with some general aerobic activity such as jogging or cycling, to get you primed to start. Add in some glute activation exercises such as monster walks and lateral walks to get some of the strongest muscles in our body ready to go. Dynamic stretching is a key component to address during your warm-up, while avoiding the potential performance limiting effects of static stretching. Things like walking lunges and inchworms are good options for dynamic stretching. By this point, our athletes are ready to do some more moving, and it is time to add some movement integration with things like marches, skips, or carioca. Finally, we want to get the nervous system geared up and ready to go, so some sort of quick movements such as fast feet drills in place or lateral ski jumps over a line for speed are great. We do not want this to be fatiguing, but simply a way to get our motor going. Every time before you have a practice or game, it is essential to start with an adequate warm-up.3 3. Work the Right Muscle Groups First While people are often focused on having a faster serve or a harder spike, they sometimes neglect other essential components. In order to create a fast swing, our arm needs to have a stable base to connect to. Strong stability in our trunk allows the arm to swing through like a whip. The second part of this equation is the importance of being able to control and slow down the arm. If you drove a Ferrari, you would want to make sure it was built on the best frame with the best brakes, before you would worry about how fast the engine could go. Neglecting these areas can be a recipe for disaster. Incorporating core stabilization exercises such as deadbugs, side plank windmills, and bird dogs will help to train that stable base.4 Band stability exercises such as rows, diagonal patterns, and reverse field goals are essential to incorporate in order to really develop control of your shoulder, making sure it is ready when you start to ramp up those swing speeds.5 4. Recover Appropriately With all the practices, games, and training sessions, volleyball can take a lot out of you. That is why it is important to get your body the correct rest and recovery that it needs. Two different approaches include active recovery and passive recovery. Active recovery includes things like light aerobic exercise such as cycling, brisk walking, or swimming in addition to strategies such as foam rolling specific sore or problem areas. Passive recovery would include things like icing, whether directly applied or in an ice bath, along with the use of compression therapy, be it tights/compressive clothing, or potentially mechanical devices that can provide compression and help with lymphatic drainage. Having a variety of ways you can help your body recover will keep you at peak performance as the season moves along.6 (Additional information can be found at Kickstarting Recovery.) 5. Play a Variety of Sports The final tip is a little bigger than just the game of volleyball. This tip is that kids should try to avoid sport-specialization, and instead play a variety of sports, or even just be outside playing games with their friends! High school athletes who specialize in a single sport, with continued participation in that area year-round, were found to have an increased risk of sustaining a lower extremity injury compared to athletes who did not specialize.7 Athletes who specialize at a young age are at risk of repetitive overuse injuries due to lack of variety from tasks required of them, along with the very real risk of burnout and psychological fatigue. 8 Remember, while we all want to be able to perform our best, having an appropriate balance in life is important and will benefit our young athletes for years to come. Glossary: Monster walks - Place a miniband around your knees and ankles. Squat down to an athletic stance, then walk forward, keeping your knees stacked over your toes. Keep pressure out against the bands. Repeat walking backwards. Lateral walks - Place a miniband around your knees and ankles. Squat down to an athletic stance, then push out walking sideways, keeping your knees stacked over your toes. Keep pressure out against the bands. Repeat going the opposite direction. Inchworms - Stand with your feet close together. Keeping your legs straight, stretch down and put your hands on the floor directly in front of you. This will be your starting position. Begin by walking your hands forward slowly, alternating your left and your right. As you do so, bend only at the hip, keeping your legs straight. Keep going until your body is parallel to the ground in a pushup position. Now, keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps with your feet, moving only a few inches at a time. Continue walking until your feet are by your hands, keeping your legs straight as you do so. Fast feet in place - Start in an athletic position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your hips low. Lifting only about 2 inches in the air, run your feet in place as fast as you can, with a slow swing of both arms at the same time. Lateral ski jumps over line - Start with both feet together, and squat your hips down a little. Keeping your feet together, jump sideways as quickly as you can back and forth, over a 2 inch line. Deadbugs - Lie on your back, with arms reaching straight up to the ceiling, and hips/knees bent to 90 degrees. While keeping your low back flat to the floor, reach one arm up overhead while the opposite leg straightens flat to the floor, and then return to starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm/leg. Side plank windmills - Lying on your side, place one hand directly under your shoulder and lift up to a side-plank position where your spine is in a straight line from your head to your tailbone. With your opposite hand, reach forward and underneath your body as far as you can, and then with that same arm reach straight up to the sky, having your eyes following the moving hand through the whole motion. Repeat on the opposite side. Bird dogs - Begin on your hands and knees, with each knee directly under your hips, and each hand directly under your shoulders. While keeping your low back flat and not allowing it to arch or rotate, reach one arm up overhead while the opposite legs straightens out behind you, and then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm/leg. References 1. Reeser JC, Verhagen E, Briner WW, Askeland TI, Bahr R. Strategies for the prevention of volleyball related injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40(7):594-600; discussion 599-600. 2. Verhagen E, van der Beek A, Twisk J, Bouter L, Bahr R, van Mechelen W. The effect of a proprioceptive balance board training program for the prevention of ankle sprains: a prospective controlled trial. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(6):1385-1393. 3. EXOS Performance Specialist Certification Course. Available at Completed May 2017. 4. Kibler WB, Press J, Sciascia A. The role of core stability in athletic function. Sports Med. 2006;36(3):189-198. 5. James LP, Kelly VG, Beckman EM. Injury risk management plan for volleyball athletes. Sports Med. 2014;44(9):1185-1195. 6. Cookinham B. Kickstarting Recovery; 2017. Available at Accessed Sept. 3, 2017. 7. McGuine TA, Post EG, Hetzel SJ, Brooks MA, Trigsted S, Bell DR. A Prospective Study on the Effect of Sport Specialization on Lower Extremity Injury Rates in High School Athletes. Am J Sports Med. 2017:363546517710213. Brittani Cookinham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT Is the Physical Therapy Manager at EXOS, a sports training facility in Frisco, Texas, and a United States Olympic team sports medicine volunteer. She attended Sacred Heart University where she obtained her Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

  • Protein Packed Energy Bites

    To make the cut as a "fueling recipe" on The Athlete's Parent, the recipe must be healthy, fueling, yummy, and easy to fit into the busy schedules that athletes' families have. These Protein Packed Energy Bites are a perfect match! We even asked Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Sports Dietitian if these bites really do the job. "Energy bites are a great protein-carb-healthy fat snack for athletes of any age, be it as a snack during school or for pre/post workout. Paired with milk, they can even be a breakfast on the go! The combination of nutrients is essential to stabilize blood sugar and thus energy throughout class or a workout. They can also be a great outdoor sport snack as they don't have to be refrigerated. Win-win!" - Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Sports Dietitian To make your own Protein Packed Energy Bites You will need only 5 Ingredients: 1 cup oats 1/2 cup peanut butter 1/2 cup whey protein - vanilla or chocolate 1/4 cup honey 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips *When purchasing whey protein, look for one that is NSF Certified for Sport to ensue no lacing of supplements. You can see a full list of NSF Certified products at Instructions: Add all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until the oats are evenly coated. If you find your mixture is a bit dry or crumbly you can drizzle in more honey to bind the ingredients together. Just don't over do the honey or you'll have a sticky mess. Once the ingredients are mixed, refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour, or pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to form. Roll tablespoon amounts into small balls and your Protein Packed Energy Bites are ready to start fueling your athletes...and on-the-go- Athlete's Parents ;) The ingredients don't require refrigeration, but my kids prefer them cold, so I store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. They're a family favorite! My kids love them as a yummy treat, and I feel good knowing that I'm providing my young athletes with fuel to help them perform their best! Find more Fueling Recipes Here!

  • 3 Tips for Buying Cleats

    1. SPORT If you’re a rookie, choosing cleats can be a bit overwhelming. First things first; find cleats that are specific to your child’s sport. Not all cleats are created equal. What works for football doesn’t work for soccer. In fact, some sports forbid the use of certain types of cleats that were not made specifically for that sport. 2. SURFACE Choosing cleats for the surface your athlete will be on is crucial. Disregarding the surface of play when choosing cleats can result in injuries. When purchasing cleats, be sure to determine if they are intended for use on grass or turf. In addition to preventing injury, you have to follow surface guidelines as well. Some leagues do not allow all cleats on their turf fields. 3. SIZE Sizing cleats is not the same as sizing school shoes. When shopping for school shoes, it’s common to leave a bit of “room to grow into.” This is not so much the case with cleats. Too much extra room can cause your athlete to trip or have instability while running. Once your athlete has played a sport for some time, he or she will find the cleat that best suits their needs. Fit can vary by brand. While some cleats are known to fit the more narrow foot, others are sought after by those with wider feet. Some athletes prefer cleats that rest higher on the ankle, while others find them uncomfortable. A good piece of advice would be not to break the budget on your athlete's first pair of cleats unless they absolutely fall in love with the fit of one. Also, be careful not to let your athlete choose their cleats based solely on look. You may have to be the voice of reason, and make sure that fit and comfort come first. You May Also Like: Equipment Checklists for Youth Sports

  • Overuse Injuries and Burnout: How to Prevent in Young Athletes

    As the school year begins, the number of injuries in young athletes increases. The risk of overuse injuries is more common and serious in young athletes for a number of reasons. Bones are still growing and simply can’t handle the same stress as an adult can during strenuous activity. Young athletes are still learning how to control their bodies with sport-specific movements, and they don’t have the ability to connect vague pain to an injury when being told to “work through the pain.” Living in the South, where temperatures allow for year-round sports participation, also contributes to overuse injuries. Unfortunately, there are no scientifically determined guidelines to help define how much exercise is healthy and beneficial to the young athlete compared with what might be harmful and represent overtraining. Parents often struggle to determine what amount of sport participation is too much. My daughter has been doing gymnastics for a year, and we recently had her participate in the gym for consecutive days. I noticed a big improvement in her performance with back-to back workouts. As a parent, I thought about getting her into the gym more days per week to advance her abilities. As a physical therapist, though, I thought about the overuse injuries I see every day that are easily preventable. Parents need to understand that with young athletes, balancing sports participation and active recovery is the key to success. General Tips: To limit sports injuries, young athletes should eat a balanced, healthy diet and get at least eight hours of sleep at night. In addition, they should avoid sugary drinks and stay properly hydrated. Adequate warm-ups and cool-downs are critical to reducing sports injuries. Athletes should incorporate strength training and focus on improving their “core stability.” Limit each sporting activity to a maximum of five days per week, with at least one day off from any organized physical activity, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Avoid specializing in one sport until late adolescence (17-18 years old). Encourage multi-sport participation. Young athletes who participate in multiple sports throughout the course of the year have the best chance to reach their goals of extending their athletic careers. Enforce a two- to three-month break per year from each particular sport, which will allow for injuries to heal and give the athlete a mental break. Young athletes should also limit tournament play over the weekends and avoid participating in more than one team of the same sport over the course of a season. In addition to overuse injuries, if the body is not given sufficient time to regenerate, young athletes may be at risk of “burnout.” Signs of burnout: Decreased sports performance and chronic fatigue Vague or chronic joint or muscle pain Lack of enthusiasm or effort Changes in sleep patterns Decreased appetite and/or weight loss Personality or mood changes, including depression, irritability or anger Increase in the number of injuries or illness High blood pressure or heart rate If you notice that your child is showing signs of burnout, there are a number of things you can do to help: Take time off from sports. This can include limiting practice and weekend tournaments. Talk to your child to understand if anything outside of sports may be a contributing factor. They may also be feeling pressured to win or perform at a level that is beyond their control. Promote a positive attitude about their sports participation. This can include not putting too much pressure on them and understanding that they can’t play a perfect game every day. Let your child be involved in the decisions about their sport participation. Every parent dreams about their child becoming a professional athlete; however, it is important to realize that, depending on the sport, only 0.2-0.5% of high school athletes will make it to the professional level. Parents should encourage young athletes to be physically fit and active while developing an understanding of teamwork. This, along with other skills associated with healthy competition, will help them be productive later in life. References: -American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee of Sports Medicine and Fitness. Intensive training and sports specialization in young athletes. Pediatrics. 2000;106:154 –157 - - National Collegiate Athletic Association. Fact sheet. Available at: Stephen LaPlante, MS, PT, ATC, is a physical therapy team leader at the Children’s HealthSM Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Plano. He attended Texas Tech University and earned a master’s degree in physical therapy and athletic training. Before coming to Plano, Stephen’s experience includes working with elite professional athletes in Florida with world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews—under whose direction the Children’s Health Andrews Institute was developed—and he now shares that knowledge and experience with youth athletes in North Texas. Call: 469-303-3000 Visit Website

  • 5 Creative Ways to Hydrate Kids

    Let’s face it, sitting down to hydrate is no fun if you are a kid playing with your friends, in the middle of a sports game or dashing around the park. It’s just not fun. However, kids need to hydrate! As adults, we typically recognize we are thirsty and will in-turn drink something. Kids, on the other hand, don’t always recognize thirst and find it taxing to stop their fun activity. To help kids hydrate in the hot months, change things up with how you get fluid, electrolytes and nutrients into your kids. Here are 5 creative ways to get your kids hydrated: 1. Sports Drink Pops: A few decades ago people made their own popsicles, remember? As a kid it was so fun! So to help your kids stay hydrated make your own popsicles with flavored sports drinks. This is a fun way for kids to get carbohydrate plus needed electrolytes (sodium and potassium) without having to sit down and drink something. This way it is like a treat! 2. 100% Fruit Juice Bars: Juice bars can be a great way to hydrate your children and get essential vitamins and minerals into their little bodies! Choosing 100% fruit juice bars or pops is a chill way to get in the nutrients of fruit into their pool party or soccer game. 3. Flavored Ice Cubes: Flavored ice cubes can be used to put in drinks or to lick on while outside. Make them with fresh fruit flavored water or by juicing. Juicing is the craze right now so take your favorite fruits and juice them. Then pour the juice into ice cube holders and freeze as a nutrient rich way to hydrate your kids. You can even mix vegetables like spinach and kale into your juice and make green ice cubes which kids will love! 4. Fruit Kabobs: Coming up with creative ways for kids to eat fruits and vegetables is essential for getting them in their diet. Skewering fruit to make bright colored juicy kabobs is an easy way to serve fruit out by the pool, at a sports game or while playing in the backyard. Ideally it also keeps germs from getting on the fruit since kinds can hold the stick instead of the fruit itself. 5. Jumbo Pickles: From movie theaters to amusement parks, to carnivals, kids love jumbo pickles. Pickles are full of fluid and sodium which is great for replacing electrolytes lost in sweat. So whether you choose to have jumbo pickles at the park, after your child’s soccer game, or in the middle of football practice, it is a great way to hydrate in the hot months. Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes. Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Contact Amy @ 214-298-3411 Visit Amy's Website

  • Returning to Sports After Injury

    When young athletes experience sports-related injuries, most are eager to return immediately after clearance from their physician. However, some athletes do not feel ready to return even after receiving medical clearance. Apprehension about going back to sports can occur after a single injury and after repeated injuries. Difficulty coping and a lack of psychological readiness are often related to the apprehension an athlete may feel about returning to full sport participation. On top of the physical aspects of recovery, athletes can experience intense emotions after an injury occurs. Decreased confidence and increased anxiety about returning to their sport can also impact athletes recovering from injury. Worries about returning to sport can include: What if I get injured again? What if I’m not as good as I was before my injury? What if I lose my position on the team? While helping athletes meet their physical rehabilitation goals is a priority, it is equally important to assist with mental preparation for a successful return to competition. This mental preparation involves learning to cope with worry and improve overall confidence. Sport psychologists help athletes with their psychological readiness to return to sport by offering support and teaching specific mental skills such as goal setting, imagery, and positive self-talk. These skills help athletes cope more effectively so they can feel confident and prepared to return to their sport. Parents can also help with their child’s recovery from injury by: Offering support and encouragement Keeping emotional reactions neutral Helping young athletes find alternative activities during recovery Encouraging interaction with friends Monitoring good nutrition and sleep during recovery Talking through feelings and reactions with your child Erica Force, PhD, CC-AASP, has practiced as a licensed psychologist with a focus in sport psychology since 2012. She is a registered Sport Psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry. Upon completion of her pediatric post-doctoral fellowship at Scottish Rite for Children in 2015, she joined the Psychology team. Utilizing her credentialing as a Certified Sport Psychology Consultant, she treats patients at Scottish Rite at the North Campus. Dr. Force has co-authored publications in prominent journals focused on the psychology of sport. Call: 469-515-7100 Visit Website

  • Preparing for an Effective Sports Physical

    Sports physical – Schedule a well-child visit at least six weeks before the season! In addition to having time to address any identified concerns, planning ahead will make your young athlete’s appointment more enjoyable. Here are some thoughts to help you prepare for an effective pre-participation evaluation (PPE). ​ Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends seeing your child’s primary care physician prior to the season starting. We agree with the AAP, as the pediatrician likely knows the most about your child from a medical standpoint. He or she can incorporate years of family and medical history knowledge into your child’s evaluation. ​ Provide thorough family history, particularly in regards to cardiac health. In addition to screening for general health and signs of musculoskeletal injuries, a main focus of the PPE is to identify young athletes at risk for sudden cardiac death. The family and medical history is critical to successful screening. While most cases do not require further testing, your primary care doctor is best qualified to determine whether more tests are needed based off of any signs and symptoms your child may exhibit. Complete the organization’s form or this form from the AAP prior to your visit to save time. Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions during the evaluation. Here are some topics to discuss with your athlete before you arrive. Review new or nagging complaints of muscle, joint or bone pain. Continuing to play in spite of the body’s signal of an injury puts the athlete at risk of a more severe injury or new injury. Also, be sure to consider any injury or illness that caused the athlete to miss practice or playing time, or needed a brace, taping, evaluation by a medical provider, X rays or rehabilitation to ensure these have been fully addressed. Review your young athlete’s eating habits. The primary care provider can discuss specific needs for your young athlete; for example, your athlete’s desire to gain or lose weight. Proper nutrition and adequate caloric intake are essential for growth, bone health, muscle recovery, strength building and athletic performance. Ask your child if he or she has taken, or considered taking, supplements. The pediatrician can review the risks and benefits of certain supplements and discuss what is appropriate for your child. Many supplements sold in stores have been found to contain banned or unsafe ingredients for children and teens. Children should get all they need out of a well-rounded diet. Supplementing should be managed by a licensed medical professional with training in sports nutrition. Discuss menstrual cycle frequency with female athletes. While it may seem difficult to address, many competitive female athletes unintentionally place high stress on their bodies. Menstrual cycle is one function affected by an imbalance in energy consumed versus energy used in training. An absent or infrequent cycle signals other systems may need to be checked. Encourage your pediatrician and child to address tough topics. The PPE visit may be your child’s only annual physical exam. Screening for depression or other mental illness, overuse injuries due to over-commitment to one sport and risky behaviors that lead to injury or illness will help keep your young athlete healthy and active. Shane M. Miller, board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a sports medicine physician at the Center for Excellence in Sports Medicine at Scottish Rite for Children. Dr. Miller is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. He also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He sees patients for sports injuries including bone and joint, muscle and ligament injuries as well as sports concussions at our North Campus, now in Plano. 469-515-7100 For information about injury prevention and pediatric sports medicine topics like these, please visit our website HERE

The Athlete's Parent

Experts who work with professional & Olympic athletes share information for your youth athlete!

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