Keep Smiling. Even If You’re Wearing A Mask.

Current virus spread estimates indicate that the next couple of weeks will be particularly difficult for U.S. residents, and will challenge everyone’s ability to see a positive outcome. During this difficult time it’s important that we take as many steps as possible to stay healthy and foster a positive attitude. One incredibly simple thing we can do is to keep smiling, even if we don’t feel like it, and even if we’re wearing a mask.

In our neighborhood I’m particularly impressed by the resiliency and optimism of most kids, especially the younger ones in elementary and middle schools. We have a few groups that go around writing chalk messages on walkways with simple truths worth following. I’m guessing many communities have the same: “stay positive”, “we’ll get through this”, and the one from our own walkway “smile”.

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Good Sleep Habits – How They Help And What You Can Do Now

As the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. unfortunately increased this week I’d like to focus on something each of us can do now to help keep as healthy as possible while we are staying home.

The virus situation changes rapidly so I’ll once again recommend you consult the CDC website for the most up to date information. As of today, physical distancing is still the best way we have to lessen our chances of getting or spreading the virus- please pay serious attention to that along with strict hand washing.

Another thing we can do at home is to get as good a night’s sleep as possible. Sleep has many positive effects on health, including assisting our immune system. Let’s have a look at the positive effects of sleep, how much is recommended, and some tips to help you get the best night’s sleep.

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Distant Socializing- Important For Health And Sanity

As we move into the coming weeks I want to point out that as of today the best weapon in the fight against spreading coronavirus is physical distancing. Whenever possible maintain at least a 6 foot space between you and the next person.  Wash your hands or use hand sanitizers frequently. I hope we have other tools available to us soon but for now this is the reality.

There is a negative aspect of the commonly used term “social distancing”, in that it means people can be come emotionally disconnected from one another. This can result in worsening mental health issues, loneliness, and depression. I’ve linked here to an outstanding article from Stanford professor Jamil Zaki who urges we use technology to stay connected to others. He calls this “distant socializing”.

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This Crazy Time Can Be An Opportunity To Reboot And Recover

We’re in the midst of an unprecedented health challenge with the coronavirus, and I don’t want in any way to minimize the serious impact this is now having on individuals, families, and businesses.

But I also want to point out that amidst all the upheaval around us is an opportunity to rest, recover, and reboot. So many of our posts at Sideline Sports Doc have covered the negative effects related to year round play, overuse, and specialization. During this period of forced time off, if your life circumstances allow then take the time to get some rest, then get back in to building baseline fitness and individual skills.

I truly hope each of you make it through this period safely, and when you get back to your normal sport and fitness activity perhaps your body will actually be better off.

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How’s Your Heart Health?

I’d like to highlight this week the second of the five numbers that I believe every adult should know about their own health status. This is your cardiovascular risk calculator. This number helps to provide a 10-year risk estimate for developing a significant cardiovascular problem such as a heart attack or stroke.

I believe the number is extremely useful because it provides data that can then be used to guide actionable steps that you could take in conjunction with consultation from your personal physician. Heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst U.S. adults, and you can take positive steps to reduce your risk.

However, there are some people who may find that they are at higher risk than what they had previously thought, and this knowledge could be upsetting to them. If you’re the type of person who can get anxiety over learning medical test results, I would still recommend that you know this number but do so only by first consulting your personal physician for guidance.

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Caution About Year Round Pitching

This week we’d like to highlight a recently published clinical study assessing elbow MRI abnormalities in young baseball players. This well conducted study is a three year follow-up to a previously performed MRI study. In the current study the authors found that 58% of the young players had MRI abnormalities on the most recent MRI scans, up from 35% on the initial preseason MRIs at the start of the study.

There is increasing evidence about the risk to the young player’s elbow from year-round baseball participation. The risk is especially high for year-round pitching. This study along with other available evidence suggests that year-round pitching is not only a risk factor for an abnormal MRI but also a risk factor for injury and loss of performance. Most sports medicine physicians recommend that young pitchers follow guidance from MLB’s PitchSmart. We also recommend multisport participation for athletes up until about age 14.

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Want To Lose Fat? You Need Zone 2 Exercise

I’m a big believer in high intensity interval training as a very effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness. But to lose fat your best bet would be to use zone 2 heart rate training. Zone 2 is not only effective in helping you lose body fat, but also has great benefits to improve glucose sensitivity and reduce heart disease risk.

The reason zone 2 training is so effective is due to the fuel (fat) used by the muscles during this type of training. In today’s post I’ll provide a brief description of the science behind fat burning in zone 2, how to know whether you’re in zone 2 during training, and how much time you should spend in that zone each week.

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A Simple Way To Reduce Kneecap Pain

Pain in the front of the knee with running is extremely common in all age groups, but particularly so in teenagers and women in their 20s and 30s. Physicians often use the vague and generally unhelpful phrase “patellofemoral pain” when describing this condition.

A recently published study shows that a simple 10% increase in the step rate (i.e. cadence) is an effective way to improve pain symptoms and improve running mechanics. The beauty of the method is that it took only a single 10-minute session, can be done by the individual runner, and results lasted at least 3 months.

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Why We All Need To Care About Metabolic Syndrome

I wrote in last week’s post about five important risk calculators that if applied together will give a person an excellent picture of their overall health status. In today’s post I want to go into more detail about the metabolic syndrome, its effects on the body as a whole and how it is linked to joint pain and osteoarthritis.

It appears to also heavily influence the common generalized body ache that many people feel. Metabolic syndrome is one of the conditions that is a precursor to many problems, and will have a negative effect on sports health, joint health, and physical performance.

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Five Numbers Every Adult Needs To Know

Adults in most western countries are faced with many day-to-day challenges that interfere with our ability to achieve good health. Work stress, family stress, too much time spent commuting, easy access to low quality fast food, etc.- these all have negative effects on our health. Yet it’s still possible to start making inroads towards better health.

I believe in data, and there are some numbers all of us should know. For those motivated to take action you can then use the numbers to target areas of focus. There are literally hundreds of data points you can gather but I highlight here five measurements that you might not be familiar with, but are incredibly useful and easily obtained. In coming weeks I’ll expand on each of these topics along with practical applications. For now, have a look at these risk calculators to get an idea of where you stand.

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