Tuesday 150707

Workout

20:00 of:
25-Press (50% of 1RM)
50-Wall Ball Shots
25-Box Jumps

Alabama-based surgeon to the stars pleads with parents to give young athletes a break

Dr. James Andrews appeared on a CBS News special titled, "Dr. James Andrews: The most important man in sports?"

My summers growing up were consumed by “travel ball.” I feel like I saw most of the southeastern United States before I was 12 because every summer weekend meant another district tournament, state championship, world series, or showcase.

During the school year, football season overlapped with basketball season, which led right back into baseball.

I loved it. Unlike some of the other kids, I was fortunate in that my parents were always supportive, but never pressured me to do more than I wanted to. Other kids weren’t so lucky.

The father of one of the kids on my travel baseball team growing up was a firefighter. He would throw batting practice to his son almost all day. He would leave him sitting on a bucket in the batting cage just long enough to answer a call from the fire station, then return and get right back to it. They did that for years. The kid went on to play in the Atlanta Braves organization, so maybe it paid off. But while the rest of us were having fun, baseball for him was already a job at the age of 10.

When high school rolled around, there were days during the summer when basketball and baseball games would be scheduled on the same day. My basketball coach would bench me for weeks if I missed a game, so I played both on the same day whenever possible.

When it was time to decide what I wanted to play in college, I chose basketball. The NCAA had strict rules on the amount of time we could spend practicing, but by that point basketball for me was a year-round thing.

But as active as I was in sports growing up, it absolutely pales in comparison to what kids are being put through today.

I can’t recall a single friend of mine growing up from elementary school through high school who had to have surgery to repair an injury that could be attributed to overuse. Sure, there were some torn ACLs, a few broken bones and some severely sprained ankles — heck, most of my front teeth were knocked out — but nobody was going in for Tommy John surgery to fix a frayed ligament that resulted from throwing a curveball all summer in elementary school.

My how things have changed.

Nowadays it’s not abnormal at all for a middle-schooler to come in for a surgery to repair a repetitive stress injury, and world-renowned Alabama-based doctor James Andrews — orthopedic surgeon to the stars — has had enough.

“I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000,” Andrews told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in an interview last year. “I started tracking and researching, and what we’ve seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board.”

In an effort to spread the word that there is an epidemic of repetitive stress injuries in youth sports, Andrews partnered with Don Yaeger, a former editor at Sports Illustrated, to write “Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for Athletes, Parents and Coaches — Based on My Life in Sports Medicine.”

“I’m trying to help these kids, given the epidemic of injuries that we’re seeing. That’s sort of my mission: to keep them on the playing field and out of the operating room,” Andrews said. “I hate to see the kids that we used to not see get hurt… Now they’re coming in with adult, mature-type sports injuries. It’s a real mess. Maybe this book will help make a dent.”

Here are some other interesting nuggets from Andrews’ interview with the Plain Dealer:

“Specialization and “professionalism” are leading to a spike in youth injuries

Specialization leads to playing the sport year-round. That means not only an increase in risk factors for traumatic injuries but a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse.

Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are pro athletes, in terms of training and year-round activity. Some can do it, like Tiger Woods. He was treated like a professional golfer when he was 4, 5, 6 years old. But you’ve got to realize that Tiger Woods is a special case. A lot of these kids don’t have the ability to withstand that type of training and that type of parental/coach pressure.

The whole youth sports system has gotten out of control

The systems out there in youth sports, particularly travel ball, have been important financial resources for the people who run them. Parents spend a fortune keeping their kids in a year-round sport, with travel and everything else. What’s happening is, the tail is wagging the dog. The systems are calling the shots: If your son or daughter doesn’t play my sport year-round, he or she can’t play for me. Never mind that your kid is 12 — I need year-round dedication.

Simply giving kids a little bit of a break could prevent most of these injuries

Kids need at least two months off each year to recover from a specific sport. Preferably, three to four months. Example: youth baseball. For at least two months, preferably three to four months, they don’t need to do any kind of overhead throwing, any kind of overhead sport, and let the body recover in order to avoid overuse situations. That’s why we’re seeing so many Tommy John procedures, which is an adult operation designed for professionals. In my practice now, 30 to 40 percent of the ones I’m doing are on high-schoolers, even down to ages 12 or 13. They’re already coming in with torn ligaments.

Give them time off to recover. Please. Give them time to recover.

There’s a lot more that can be gleaned from Andrews’ interview, and the full post at The Plain Dealer is worth a read.

But the bottom line is, as the summer wraps up and the school year begins, this might be a good time to give the superstars of tomorrow a break, and let them just be the kids of today.

 

Friday 150410

From CFHQ

Workout

5 rounds for time of:
20 wall-ball shots, 20-lb. ball to 10-ft. target
75-lb. sumo deadlift high pulls, 20 reps (KB Swings 70/53)
20-inch box jumps, 20 reps
Push presses, 20 reps (75/55)
Row 20 calories
Rest 1 minute

Distance running may be an evolutionary ‘signal’ for desirable male genes

New research shows that males with higher ‘reproductive potential’ are better distance runners. This may have been used by females as a reliable signal of high male genetic quality during our hunter-gatherer past, as good runners are more likely to have other traits of good hunters and providers, such as intelligence and generosity.

Persistence hunting may have been one of the most efficient forms of hunting, and as a consequence may have shaped human evolution

Danny Longman

Pre-birth exposure to high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone has already been shown to confer evolutionary advantages for men: strength of sex drive, sperm count, cardiovascular efficiency and spatial awareness, for example.

Now, latest research on marathon runners using finger length as a marker for hormone exposure shows that people who experienced higher testosterone in the womb are also better at distance running – a correlation particularly strong in men, although also present in women.

Researchers say the finding that males with greater “reproductive potential” from an evolutionary standpoint are better distance runners suggests females may have selected for such athletic endurance when mating during our hunter-gatherer past, perhaps because ‘persistence hunting’ – exhausting prey by tirelessly tracking it – was a vital way to get food.

Distance running may also have acted as a positive ‘signal’ for females of desirable male genetics more generally, say researchers: good runners were likely to be better persistence hunters and consequently better providers. This increases the likelihood they would have other key traits of good providers such as intelligence and generosity.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology and is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The observation that endurance running ability is connected to reproductive potential in men suggests that women in our hunter-gatherer past were able to observe running as a signal for a good breeding partner,” said the study’s lead author Dr Danny Longman.

“It was thought that a better hunter would have got more meat, and had a healthier – and larger – family as a consequence of providing more meat for his family. But hunter-gatherers may have used egalitarian systems with equal meat distribution as we see in remaining tribes today. In which case more meat is not a factor, but the ability to get meat would signal underlying traits of athletic endurance, as well as intelligence – to track and outwit prey – and generosity – to contribute to tribal society. All traits you want passed on to your children,” he said.

Using the largest sample of marathon runners of any study of its kind, Longman and colleagues tested for specific finger lengths known as the 2D:4D digit ratio. Previous studies have showed that those exposed to more prenatal testosterone have a longer ring finger (4th digit) in comparison to their index finger (2nd digit).

This digit ratio is the most accurate known way to tell if an adult was exposed to higher levels of testosterone as a foetus – a proven predictor of the “potential for reproductive success” in men, say researchers.

The team analysed 542 runners (439 men; 103 women) at the Robin Hood half marathon in Nottingham by photocopying hands and taking run times and other key details just after runners crossed the line.

They found that the 10% of men with the most masculine digit ratios were, on average, 24 minutes and 33 seconds faster than the 10% of men with the least masculine digit ratios.

The correlation was also found in women, but was much more pronounced in men, suggesting a stronger evolutionary selection in men for running ability. The 10% of women with the most masculine digit ratios were, on average, 11 minutes and 59 seconds faster than the 10% with the least masculine.

Longman points out that prenatal testosterone exposure is a very small influence on running ability that doesn’t compete with training and muscle strength when it comes to performance, but their unprecedentedly large sample size of over 500 people enabled the team to gather conclusive evidence.

“Humans are hopeless sprinters. Rabbits, for example, are much faster sprinters, despite being fat and round. But humans are fantastically efficient long-distance runners, comparable to wolves and wild coyotes,” said Longman.

“We sweat when most animals would overheat; our tendons and posture are designed to propel our next strides – there was likely a selective pressure for all these benefits during our evolution.”

Persistence hunting is thought to have been one of the earliest forms of human hunting, evolving approximately two million years ago, said Longman.

“You can still see examples of persistence hunting in parts of Africa and Mexico today. Hunters will deliberately choose the hottest time of day to hunt, and chase and track an antelope or gnu over 30 to 40 kilometres for four or five hours. The animal recovers less and less from its running until it collapses exhausted and is easy to kill,” Longman said.

“This may sound crazy, but when a hunter is relatively fit the amount of energy they expend is actually tiny compared to the energy benefits of an antelope-sized animal, for example. Before the domestication of dogs, persistence hunting may have been one of the most efficient forms of hunting, and as a consequence may have shaped human evolution.”