May 8th, 2013
Concussions can occur at any time and any place. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. In some cases, a concussion can even occur without any impact to the head itself (whiplash from a car crash, or crashing on roller skis). If an injury occurs the results in cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no visible signs of a brain injury. Concussions are often overseen, since many people believe there must be loss of consciousness to have a concussion.
With rest, most people recover fully from a concussion. Recover can take a few hours, days, or weeks. In some rare cases, repeated concussions or a severe concussion may require surgery of lead to long-lasting problems related to movement, learning, or speech. Due to the possibility of long term problems, it is important to be able to diagnose a concussion immediately and seek medical assistance.
Symptoms of a concussion can be mild to severe and for hours, days, or weeks depending on the severity of the injury. The categories symptoms fall into are thinking and remembering, physical, emotional and mood, and sleep. The thinking and remembering symptoms include: not thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, not being able to concentrate, and not being able to remember new information. The physical symptoms include: headache, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, balance problems, and feeling tired or having decreased energy. Emotional and mood symptoms include: being easily upset or angered, sadness, nervousness or anxiousness, and being more emotional. The sleep symptoms include: sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual, and having a hard time falling asleep.
There is neurological testing and a cognitive assessment that can be performed if a concussion is suspected. The neurological portion consists of testing cranial nerves. I have mentioned these nerves and how to test them in a previous post, but here they are again. Cranial nerves are labeled 1-12: olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, vestibulocochlear, glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal. Each nerve tests a different sensory, motor, or mixed function. Depending on the nerve or function that is damages, the area of injury to the brain can be more focally localized.
1 – Olfactory: tests smell – test smell with smelling salts, smelly socks, or a strong food
2 – Optic: tests vision – can you see the tree down the mountain or the tree right in front of you
3 – Oculomotor: tests reaction to light and eye movement – look at pupils while passing a light in front of the eyes and following a finger down and in (from lower corner to center of sight) with just the eyes, test both eyes
4 – Trochlear: eye movement – follow a finger up and out (from center of sight to upper corner) with just the eyes: test both eyes
5 – Trigeminal: tests jaw clench and facial sensation: clench jaw tightly and try to separate, feel for sensation on the face
6 –Abducens: tests lateral eye movement: watch pupil movement as eyes move from side to side (fast and slow)
7 – Facial: tests taste and facial movements: raise eyebrows, smile/frown, taste (eat a mint or taste the sap from a tree)
8 – Vestibulocochlear: tests hearing: can check hearing by tapping a ski against the other; snap fingers near the eyes to check for peripheral hearing
9 – Glossopharyngeal: tests swallowing and taste: make swallowing motion; eat a mint or taste the sap from a tree
10 – Vagus: testing swallowing, and uvula: making swallowing motion; say ‘ahhh’ and watch the uvula (the conic projection at the back of the throat)
11 – Accessory: tests neck range of motion and strength: shrug shoulders and apply downward pressure to shoulder shrug
12 – Hypoglossal: tests tongue movement, stick out tongue
The cognitive assessment includes red flags such as unusual communication, inappropriate behavior, irrational thinking, mental disability, or personality changes. Recall and memory can be tested for retrograde (prior to event) or anterograde (since event occurred) amnesia. Amnesia is a deficiet in memory caused by brain damage or trauma. Retrograde testing can include asking the time (what time of the day is it?), place (where are you?), person (who are you? what is your full name?), and purpose (what are you doing here?). Anterograde is usually only affected by more severe head injuries. Anterograde is checked by telling the person 3 words in the beginning of the assessment (such as apple, snow, bubble). Have the person repeat the words back after the neurological and retrograde testing. The affected person can also test analytical skills by counting down by 7’s from 100; spelling the word ‘world’ forward and backward; and saying the months of the year backwards.
Treatment of concussions is very conservative. While symptoms persist, the indivdual should avoid all brain stimulation. Stimulation includes homework, reading, watching tv, and looking at a computer. There must be no symptoms before light aerobic activity can take place. Progression daily from light to moderate to heavy activity must take place. Each day the activity level increases as long as symptoms do not return. It is better to be cautious when it comes to the brain. When in doubt, seek medical assistance
December 1st, 2012
Athletic Trainers can be a little narrow minded in respect to how stretching should be performed. Often times the focus is on the concentric action (a simple static stretch) we learn initially and focus on this movement to strengthen and stretch during rehabilitation programs. However, this focus on the concentric movement limits the athlete in several ways. For that reason, we need to realize what degrees of motion our muscles have.
The muscles in our body all perform concentric (shortening the muscle), eccentric (lengthening the muscle), and isometric (contraction but no movement) movements. These movements can also differ in respect to whether the athlete is in a weight bearing or a non-weight bearing position. In most cases, the athlete will need to be weight bearing to function in their respective sport. With this in mind, three-dimensional stretching has been developed to be an aid in rehabilitation and training.
Have you ever thought about why you do certain types of stretches? Maybe it is to just increase flexibility, but stretching can do many more things than that. “3D” stretching can be used to ‘turn on’ your muscles before exercise or even to treat the cause of injuries. Multiplanar or ‘3D’ stretching is beneficial for all pre and post workout routines.
It is essential that we utilize the knowledge that each muscle in the body performs three movements over three planes of motion. They can move in the frontal, sagittal, and transverse or rotational planes. Here’s an example, as many of you know, muscles move in more than one plane of motion. When you simply go to wave to a person, you pick your arm up at the shoulder in the frontal plane, you raise the distal part of your arm in the sagittal plane, and (if you are the queen of England) you do a dainty wave in the transverse plane. This is proof that you move in way more planes of motion than you thought you did.
From here, it is rather simple to put together a 3D stretch that pertains to the functions our athletes need to complete to perform optimally. For this post, videos and written descriptions will be demonstrated for various areas of the body. It is important to note that each stretch should be performed doing 3 sets with 10-15 slow pulses (1 pulse= 1 movement to each side) per movement. In the videos, I have my subjects doing 4-5 pulses to allow you to see the movement solely for demonstration.
CHEST (Pectoralis Major/Minor)
A traditional stretch for the chest is to lean forward with one hand on a wall corner and then lean forward. We can use this as our starting point for maximizing the effectiveness on this stretch three-dimensionally. Position yourself as mentioned before, but now you lean forward and come backward, then rotate side-side, and then lastly rotate all while keeping your hand on the wall. This covers all three planes of motion and once you give this stretch a try, you will feel the effectiveness of the stretch in all aspects of range of motion. Another great aspect to this perspective on stretching is that we can tailor it to your individual needs. See Michael demonstrate below.
SHOULDER (Deltoids, Pectoralis Major & Minor, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboid, and Teres Major & Minor)
To start, find a doorway, and put your arms up in the position where you extend the furthest. From here, push your elbows or forearms up against the door with your body in the doorway. Extend your body through the doorway as far as possible to feel a stretch (use this as your starting body position for each plane of stretch). To add in the 3D component, push your body front to back through the doorway to get the first stretch, move your entire body side to side to get the second stretch, and rotate your body around the edge of the door that your arm is on to get the final stretch. See Mario demonstrate below.
The way you stretch this is as follows: 1. Hold onto the edge of a doorway with your hand and move away from the door until you feel a stretch in the shoulder. 2. Keep your arm in at least slight amount of flexion (elbow bent) so that you simulate poling motion. Last, move your body front to back (remember not to move out of the point of feeling a stretch), side to side, and rotate your body all around your arm that stays fixed on the door frame. See video below.
GROIN (Adductors, Sartorius, Gracilis, etc)
For the groin, the starting position will be to step your left foot out sideways about 5 feet from your body while keeping your right foot in the same spot. Slowly bend your right knee until you feel tension in your left groin. This should feel similar to if you were performing sideways lunge. For the first movement, put your hands on your hips, gently rock your hips back and forth sideways (you should feel the stretch when rocking away from your left leg). The second movement, put your hands on your hips, gently rock your hips forwards and backwards. Finally, hold your arms out in front of you for balance, rotate your upper body left and right keeping your feet firmly planted. (You should feel the stretch when rotating to the right) See Matthew demonstrate below.
HAMSTRING (Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus)
Before you begin, select a foot. The foot that is in the front will be the one you will be stretching. To start, you will simply lean forward, touch your toes and rock forward and backward slowly. The second action, you will remain bent over, but you will have your hands to your sides and you would rock from side-to-side. Last motion, you will twist to your right and then twist to your left, or if it is easier you can walk your hands to your left and then walk your hands to your right. See Gonzo demonstrate below.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH (Iliopsoas)
Begin by kneeling down on a knee, making sure you have some sort of padding under that knee. Then, place the other leg in front, bent at a 90 degree angle and lean back with your torso. Place your hands on your hips and rock back and forth. The next motion will be to rock side to side and finally, twist your torso to reach for your other foot. Some variations would be to point your toe in or out to feel a different stretch. See Amanda demonstrate below
QUADRICEPS (Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis)
These stretches can be done either kneeling or standing. To perform it standing, place the top of your foot on a nearby table or use the back of a chair. For this demonstration, we will show kneeling. Begin by kneeling on the ground, keeping one knee on the ground and stepping the other leg out in front of your body, placing that foot on the ground. Reach behind you and grab the ankle of the leg with the knee on the ground and slightly extend your hips. From this position, lean side to side, bending from your waist while continuing to look straight ahead. Returning back to the starting position, lean forward and backward, again bending at your waist, over your knee, pulling back on the foot in your hand. In the starting position, rotate your body over your knee, rotating at the waist and looking over your shoulder at the end of the motion. See Anna demonstrate below.
CALF (Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Plantaris)
A few examples of calf stretches include bringing one foot forward and forcing your foot into dorsiflexion against a wall or flat surface. (Dorsiflexion is bringing your foot toward your lower leg.) To begin, slowly rock your body forward and back, in the sagittal plane. Then slowly rock side to side, in the frontal plane. Finally slowly rotate your body from side to side, in the transverse plane. See the video below
Another stretch includes posing in a lunge-like position with one leg more forward than the other while keeping the back foot flat on the ground. Only separate your legs as far as tolerable. Any painful movements will not be beneficial. While holding this lunge position bring your arms out and press them into a wall or flat surface and rock your body forward and back, in the sagittal plane. Then slowly rock from side to side, in the frontal plane, and finally slowly rotate your body from side to side, in the transverse plane. See Kristi demonstrate below
3D stretching lengthens out the entire muscle group that you are targeting. This lengthening is what increasing an individual’s flexibility. Increased flexibility, or in other words the increased ability to lengthen a muscle, allows for an individual to load up their muscle, which is an eccentric contraction, in order to explode, which is the concentric contraction. This load-to-explode concept is what gives athletes their power. An example would be, the calf is used to push off with running. The heel is the first body part to strike the ground when running (unless you are a forefoot runner). The position of the heel on the ground and the toes still up in the air is dorsiflexion, a lengthened position for the calf.
Multiplanar, or three dimensional stretching is still a new concept, and something really cool for athletes and skiers to try out. To be afraid, it helps mix up the boring routine of static stretching, give it a try! A huge thank you to all the students at Concordia for helping out with this!2 comments
October 13th, 2012
It’s not too often skiers are diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis, but it can happen, especially during running intensity the athlete isn’t accustomed to, tight calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus), improper form, or ill fitting ski boots and shoes. Ideally any exercises performed should be pain free, so adjust accordingly.
Before taking on a rehabilitation program, first try to control the pain in your Achilles tendon. Depending on the stage of your injury, a multitude of options are available. Lots of heel stretching (See previous post, Part 1 of “Am I Imbalanced?”), icing after workouts, NSAIDs (ibuprofen), and massaging are good options to start with to control pain. Compression socks are also very popular to wear if activity isn’t too aggravating.
Through my experiences, I have found that eccentric exercises usually produce success in getting athletes back to full strength. Eccentric means an athlete is working on strengthening the muscle in an elongated position. Think of it this way, you are bench pressing and push the bar up quickly in a 2 second count, but you lower it to your chest slowly in a 4-6 second count. These types of exercises are often referred to as “negatives”. Another common example is when female athletes are unable to perform large numbers of pull ups, they can start with a negative pullup (getting a boost to hold themselves at the top of the bar, then lowering their bodies down in a 10 second count). Below are some great eccentric Achilles exercises to perform.
Exercise 1, “Heel Drops”: Find a box, or anything high enough and sturdy enough to stand on. This exercise is pretty basic, and is essentially taking calf raises and reversing them. Start by placing your heels off the back of the box, make sure to have a wall or something to hold onto so you don’t lose your balance. Drop your heels into the starting position, do a calf raise up in a 2 second count, and then lower yourself down slowly in a 6 second count back to the starting position. Repeat this at least 15 times, if possible perform 20.
Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epgJdM2muzI
Exercise 2, “Single Leg Board Squats”: Find a slanted board if possible, and set against a wall so it doesn’t slide around as you move. Plus, holding to the wall for support will help with balance and safety. Stand about midway on the board on just your toes, pick which leg you want to start with. In an upright position, lower your body in a 6 second count to the bottom of your range of motion, then push up on your toes in a 2 second count. If you can perform this in front of a mirror, that will be helpful to make sure your knee is staying in a straight line, and not moving all over. The key to this is to not let your heel touch the board. Do 10 repetitions on each leg, add another set if you feel able.
Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Cbr_SvdJo
Exercise 3, “3 Dimensional Lunges”: This exercise is not as focused on the eccentric aspect, but proper form and hitting all ranges of motion. Focusing on the three dimensions the body operates in is sometimes overlooked in rehab, and can be a secret to success. To start, go forward into a lunge position. On the return push back, really focus on using that calf in the behind leg to bring yourself back. Perform these squats slowly, it’s not meant to be explosive in anyway. After going forward with the lunge, step into the next lunge but aiming to the left. At a 45 degree angle. Return to the center, and the lunge to the right at a 45 degree angle. Going the three ways counts as one set, repeat 10 sets on each leg.
See video below for how to perform, just do it without the rotation.
Variation on Exercise 3: While performing the three different motions, a rotational aspect at the hips can occur as well. We do this because it turns the hip into internal rotation, which translates the tibia (shin bone) creating a different pull on the muscle. Hitting all these dimensions of the Achilles will properly ensure even strengthening throughout.
Video of the variation can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7R7VmBSy-c
These exercises can be done as preventative as well as rehabilitation. Part 2 of “Am I Imbalanced” will be out soon! Thanks to the athletes who helped me.4 comments
August 7th, 2012
Per request of a comment I received from the last post, I tried to tackle the topic of identifying imbalances on the body. We all aren’t physical therapists and athletic trainers, so sometimes knowing the basics can help you recognize when you are at risk for an injury, or how you can make an easy fix for a nagging problem. My thought process was to break it up into upper extremity and lower extremity and identify “hot spots” or common areas that lead to multiple problems for endurance athletes. I will start from the ground up literally, with part one being Lower Extremity.
Common Injury: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, calf cramps
Am I imbalanced?: Checking for calf (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) tightness is difficult. A quick test to try and see is to simply extend your leg in front of you, (so you need to be sitting or laying down.) Try and bring your foot to your body, if you can see a reflection of your foot, even better. If the angle of your foot to your shin (tibia) is over 90 degrees, you are not in the “normal” flexibility range.
The first stretch is a basic stretch. First obtain a towel and wrap around your toes. Pull the towel and your toes towards your body. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
The next stretch is probably one we all have learned from elementary school, but if you can look in a mirror, see how good your flexibility is. The key is to keep your heel in contact with the floor at all times.
This next stretch helps to stretch the other part of your calf, the soleus muscle. The soleus lies directly underneath your gastrocnemius. Keeping your heel in constant contact with the ground and the bending your knee slightly, you will feel a different stretch.
Strength test: This is a test that as an athletic trainer I will use on someone if they present any symptoms of weakness. It’s quite simple, if you can’t perform this, you’ve got some work ahead of you or you have a nerve issue. Simple see if you can do 25 calf raises with a straight knee in a row without any issue. Next, bend at the knees slightly to test the solues muscle. (Assume the same position as the stretch above, only doing calf raises).
Area: VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique)
Common injury: Patellar tendinitis, patellar tracking issues, ITBFS, general knee pain, condromalacia patella, etc
Am I imbalanced?: To start, the vastus medialus oblique is one of the three major quadriceps muscles. It is seen most predominantly on athletes right on the inside part of the knee. I used my own leg as an example, and it’s not the greatest, but I will use Marit and Therese to really show a good example.
When you flex your quad you should have a “tennis ball” shape appear by your knee. If you touch right by your knee and only feel some squishy skin, you’re in trouble. This muscle supports the patella in all its motions, so if the VMO is weak, the patella likes to run all over like a loose train cabin. A good way to test this is to get a small hand towel, roll it up, and place underneath your knee. Next flex your quad as hard as you can, imagining you are trying to crush the towel into the table/ground/etc. Look at the inside of your knee, do you see a bulge form? Push there, can you feel a muscle flexing? It’s more common in women to see a deficit in this muscle than men.
How can I fix this? Using the towel test as an exercise is a great way to strengthen the VMO as well. Try to “crush the towel” for a long 5 second hold, and then relax. Repeat this 10 to 15 times. If you still feel like you aren’t tired, find an ankle weight and hang your ankle off the table to add some more resistance, or hold for longer than 5 seconds.
Area: Gluteus Medius
Common injury: ITBFS, General pain in back, hips, knees, many more. This muscle is a very important stabilizer in the repetition of running and skiing.
Am I imbalanced? In the athletic training realm, the test for checking for gluteus medius weakness is called Trendelenburg’s Test. The best way to try and check yourself is to perform this in front of a mirror. Start by putting your hands right on your hips. Then, trying to keep your hips level, lift your foot off the floor and flex your knee behind you to 90 degrees. Watch your hands on your hips, do they move? Can you feel yourself wanting to shift all your weight to one side? If you can’t keep your hips level while balancing on one leg, you definitely have a weakness. See if you can keep your hips completely level for 30 seconds to a minute.
How can I fix this? Two great exercises are Hip Hikes and Fire Hydrants. You can’t target the muscle properly unless you do these correctly. To perform a hip hike, find something to stand on that is at least 8 inches tall or so. Start by standing with one foot on the surface, and on foot hanging off the side. Start in a position with your hips level, just holding your foot over the edge. Using ONLY your hips, try to drop your foot down to the floor. Do not bend your knees in any way. You should only feel your hip muscles trying to lift you. Repeat at least 20 times on each side, repeat 3 times.
The second exercise is called Fire Hydrant because it simulates they position dogs assume when nature calls. The key to this exercise is to not use your back and rotate all over the place. Start by balancing on your knees and hands on the floor. Then, lift one leg up to the side, going until you feel yourself begin to rotate. Repeat 20 times each side, repeat 3 times to really feel the burn.
Area: Weak or Tight Hamstrings
Common injury: Low back pain, Chronic hamstring strains, Hip alignment issues, knee injuries, etc
Am I imbalanced? The easiest way to tell if you are imbalanced is to find a wall in your home or gym, and lie down facing it. Try to place your feet on the wall and scoot yourself as close to the wall as you can. If you can get your butt to touch the wall without a problem, you have at least 90 degrees on hamstring flexibility which is a good start. If you can’t get to 90 degrees, you have very tight hamstrings. Another test is simply to see how close you can touch your toes. Also, if your quadriceps are a lot stronger than your hamstrings you can be predisposing yourself to problems down the line.
How can I fix this? A few different hamstring strengthening exercises are available, and creativity can make them enjoyable. The first, which is one of my favorites to use on athletes who are rehabbing from ACL surgery, is stool racing. Find an office stool or chair on wheels. Find a nice long clear space to either do laps, or straight lines and using only your heels, pull yourself across the space. Make sure to be pulling yourself forward for at least a minute at a time. Repeating at least 3 times.
The second exercise, which can help with double poling even since you will be getting your hips forward, is a hip fall. Find a heavy enough couch/chair, and put your feet underneath it. (I didn’t have anything that could hold me in the picture, so just imagine I did) Then, fall forward and try to hold your upper body as long as you can before gravity takes over and you drop. The key to this is keeping your back as straight as possible, if you bend at the hips, you can cheat on this exercise all day.
Keeping these muscle groups flexible is important too, see my previous post about Hamstring Flexibility.
Area: IT Band
Common injuries: ITBFS, patellar tracking issues, bursitis, hip pain, low flexibility in stride length
Am I imbalanced? The IT band is difficult to “test” on yourself necessarily, you need to think back of any symptoms you’ve had. Is there pain directly on the outside of your knee? Do you feel like someone is pushing your knees together when you’re running? If you touch the outside of your leg, does it feel extremely tight? Can you not foam roll the outside of your leg without wanting to cry?
How can I fix this? If you haven’t invested in a foam roller, do so as soon as you can. It can do wonders for many injuries. Typically what I have seen is that athletes suffering from ITBFS (IT Band Friction Syndrome) usually has a weak gluteus medius, so doing this exercises are a smart idea. Otherwise another good exercise is to take a theraband (if you have one) and wrap on your ankles for resistance. If you don’t have a band, you can use ankle weights. Be creative, but find some sort of resistance at your ankles that you can tolerate. Lie on your side, and lift your leg up. The motion you will make is a scissor kick, or a “Jane Fonda” style leg lift. Make sure your body stays straight, and you don’t roll forward or backward. Do 20, repeat 2 times.
There is a lot to process on this post, if any reader is interested in one particular aspect, I can dedicate a single post to it in the future. Stay tuned for the next post, Part 2, which will address upper extremity deficiencies such as the core, pectoralis muscles, shoulder strength, and others.2 comments
June 22nd, 2012
Excuse me for my temporary hiatus since April, I recently graduated college, became a certified Athletic Trainer, and moved to Milwaukee to start my new job! Exciting times. While in my last few weeks at Gustavus Adolphus College, I had time to film some hamstring stretches. As skiers we know that we use virtually every muscle in our bodies, and some days we wake up with soreness and we’re not sure why. The hamstrings are such a big muscle group and usually are neglected by endurance athletes. Keeping hamstring flexibility and strength in your mind can help to alleviate other problems, like low back pain for one example. Below are 6 videos or hamstring stretches. Ideally, they would all be done together, so the overall stretch time is about 3-5 minutes. You will need a stretching rope, or any type of rope or cloth that is long enough and sturdy enough. Check them out!
The first stretch is pretty easy. Make a U shape around the bottom of your shoe. Pull your leg up, keeping the knee STRAIGHT to get the best stretch. Don’t let your butt come off the table. Ideally you want to get the leg to 90 degrees or further. Go to the point of a good stretch and stop, hold that stretch for a long 3 second count, relax and bring the leg back down. Repeat 10 times.
This stretch is the same except for the position of the rope. After making the U shape around the base of your shoe, wrap the cords clockwise around your ankle and over your calf. Grab the rope and pull the leg straight again, 3 long second hold, relax, repeat 10 times.
Same as stretch 2, except for now bring the rope counterclockwise around your ankle and calf.
This stretch is the same as stretch 1, just start with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees. Hold for 3 seconds, relax, repeat 10 times.
Same starting position, except wrap the cords clockwise.
Same starting position, except wrap the cords counterclockwise.
The hamstrings are actually a grouping of three different muscles. The wrapping of the cord around your ankle and leg helps stretch those three muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus. Enjoy the stretches, and stay flexible!3 comments
April 6th, 2012
Well, the ski season is over for most of us and spring is coming out. Now is the time to find those other extra curricular activities to spend time with. This post is inspired by a fellow ski friend of mine that displayed some odd behavior the other day. Picture this scenario, you’re roller skiing and your buddy decides he is too cool for his helmet, and takes it off. One pot hole later, and he’s laying in the street seeing stars and is losing sensation in his face. In the realm of athletic training, there are functional tests we ask athletes to perform to make sure all twelve cranial nerves are working optimally. Usually these are damaged with blows to the head, but crazier things have happened. Here are the twelves nerves, and how to test them
I. Olfactory- Sense of smell, to test: take a swab of rubbing alochol, a sweaty ski boot, something pungent, etc
II. Optic- Vision, to test: Pick words at a distance for them to read
III. Occulomotor- Vision, to test: Remove the Rudys, cover one of their eyes, move hand and see if the pupil returns to normal
IV. Trochlear- Vision, to test: Take your finger and move it from side to side and watch their eye tracking
V. Trigeminal- Facial sensation, chewing, to test: Have them clench their jaw, or try to open their water belt with their teeth
VI. Abducens- Vision, to test: Take your finger and move it diagonally watching eye tracking again
VII. Facial- Facial expressions, to test: Tell them to smile and scrunch their face up, frown, etc
VIII. Vestibulocochlear- Hearing/Balance, to test: rub your fingers together next to their ears to see if they can hear, have them stand up and balance on one foot
IX. Glossopharyngeal- Swallowing/Gag reflex, to test: give them some water to swallow
X. Vagus- Swallowing/Gag reflex, to test: tell them to stick their finger in their throat until they gag…don’t induce vomiting here now, just a small gag reflex
XI. Accessory- Swallowing, Innervation of neck, to test: tell them to shrug shoulders
XII. Hypoglossal- Tongue movement, to test: Tell them to stick their tongue out
Hopefully your friend has learned that wearing a helmet is a necessity, and that losing cranial nerve function can be slightly embarrassing! Protect your heads out there
February 8th, 2012
As an athlete and an overall human, something that is drilled into our heads young is how important it is to have strong abdominal muscles to improve performance and overall sexiness. We all have probably done millions of crunches, whether consciously or in daily activity (ever count how many times you crunch on a 3 hour double pole? I bet it would suprise you). Now let’s back up a step or two. Being skiers, we know there is a difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance. Being able to do medicine ball slams with a 20 pound ball is different than being able to hold your upper body completely stable during planks. Knowing this difference is helpful when an athletic trainer or physical therapist says to you “You need to improve your core” and you scoff and say “Have you seen this six pack?” Having a six pack doesn’t mean you have a stable core. Having a stable core is often the solution to a lot of problems with athletes. Our body has a kinetic chain, sometimes the best course of action is treating the injury directly but backing up and solving all links of the chain. Here’s an example: You’ve been diagnoised with Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome because you have a weak gluteus medius in your butt, because your gait has changed and you can’t keep a good posture. Stabilizing the core helps to assist with proper mechanics and could be the first step with a rehabilitation plan. Don’t think your athletic trainer/physical therapist is crazy when you come in with an ankle sprain and they start making you exercise your core. With that being said, here is a good test of how awesome or how horrible your core stability is.
Sit down on the ground with your knees bent, like you just sat up from doing crunches. Focus on straightening your back, shoulders, and have good posture. Imagine drawing your belly button into your spine (not sucking it in) but just giving yourself a strong core. Now, without bending at the spine or shoulders, maintain that good posture and strong core. Start to lower your body down to the ground only using your core. See how far you can get before your feet lift off the ground. No cheating! Ideally, you should be able to lower yourself down without having your feet ever come up. Got a bad core? Here’s some exercise to help you out!
Exercise #1: Find a fitness ball that is well inflated. Sit directly in the middle. Prepare yourself by sitting up straight, drawing your shoulder blades back, and flattening your core and drawing it into your spine. Once this position is held without wobbling on the ball, extend your left leg out. Hold your leg in this position for a slow count of 5 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat 5 times. This exercise is pointless if you can’t keep your balance on the ball, or start to slouch. Focus on your core. Repeat with the right leg.
Exercise #2: Starting from a sitting position, walk yourself out until just your shoulder blades are resting on the ball. Bring your hips up so that you are imitating a table, everything should be flat. Don’t let your butt sag to the floor. Focus on flattening your core towards your spine. Hold this table top position for 10 seconds, relax by either rolling up to a sitting position or letting your butt drop. Repeat at least 5 times. This exercise helps to prepare for #3
Exercise #3: This exercise is based on the previous. Get into the proper starting position with a good table top. Then, extend your left leg. Make sure everything is level, that you don’t drop your hips or rotate to try and compensate for balance. This exercise is difficult and may take a lot to master. Try to hold the leg extended for 3 solid seconds before dropping the leg back down. Repeat 5 times on each leg. As you get better, hold the leg extended for longer.
I hope this is helpful for you! If anyone has any other suggestions, corrections or questions feel free to ask!
January 16th, 2012
As athletic training students, and any other allied medical area of study, acronyms are used all the time. Early on in my studies we learned the acronym FOOSH to remember the mechanism of injury (how an injury occurred to cause it) of many wrist pathologies. I thought this post would be good because of Holly Brooks recent wrist injury could have occurred from a FOOSH. Alright, so what is FOOSH?
FOOSH: Falling On (an) OutStretched Hand
We’ve all probably heard this before, but when you are falling you’re supposed to roll or let your body absorb the fall? The last thing you want to do is throw your arm straight out, stiff as a board, to try and catch all of your body weight. Last time I checked your body weighs a lot more than one arm. Of course, we don’t have much time to process how to soften our fall as we are doing the said falling. This causes us to hurt our wrists! FOOSH can lead to multiple injuries including, but not limited to: TFCC injury, dislocation of the lunate bone, Kienböck’s Disease, scaphoid fracture, hamate fracture, strained wrist ligaments, etc
See the large glove and padding attached to the pole? FOOSH injury, he was protecting his cast underneath.
Be careful out there!1 comment
December 21st, 2011
We all have had our fair share hearing about a famous American football player or basketball player tearing their ACL and having to quit their season. The words “ACL tear” have such a stigma attached to them, people cringe just at the sound of it. Luckily for us uphill skiers, we don’t have to worry about tearing our knee ligaments too often, but don’t rule it out.
In case some of you didn’t know, there are four major ligaments of the knee: ACL, PCL, LCL, and MCL. To help you understand why these ligaments are so important, I’ll explain them all.
ACL: The ACL, also known as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament is found in between the menisci of the knee and crosses (hence the word cruciate) with the PCL. The ACL itself is made up of three bands: the anteromedial, intermediate, and posterolateral. The ACL prevents the femur (thigh bone) from moving posteriorly (backwards) when you are putting full weight on your leg. It also limits your tibia (shin bone) from anteriorly (forward) when non weight-bearing. One of the ACLs biggest supporters is the hamstring tendon group. Commonly if someone chooses not to get a skin graft to repair their ACL, they have to go through extensive rehabilitation to regain stability of their knee. Strengthening the hamstrings is one way to help add stability to the knee again.
PCL: The PCL, or posterior cruciate ligament, isn’t often completely torn because it is stronger than the ACL. It’s main function is to help prevent hyperextension of the knee. Often times tearing of the PCL is referred to as a “dashboard” injury because people who are involved in car accidents are prone to tear their PCLs when their knees hit the dashboards of their car on impact. Be careful skiing with your knees bent going into the trees!
MCL: The MCL, or Medial Collateral Ligament, attaches on the medial (towards the center of the body) epicondyle (bony protusion) of the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The MCLs main function is to stabilize the knee when in a valgus position. To explain this, imagine you just took a step forward with your right foot, and someone kicked your ankle from the inside. Your foot goes out to the right at a funny angle. Most likely the next day you will feel some soreness on the inside of your knee, which was from your MCL possibly being torn from the valgus force that was produced.
LCL: The LCL, or Lateral Collateral Ligament, can be felt the easiest out of all the ligaments. Athletic trainers will often put athletes into the “Figure 4″ position to palpate the LCL. Either sitting or standing, bring your foot up and try to touch your opposite knee. Almost like you are sitting with one leg crossed. With practice, you can palpate your own LCL! The LCLs main function is to protect the knee from varus forces. (Imagine the same scenario from before, but someone kicking you from the outside, and pain presenting on the outside of the knee). Other structures that support the LCL include the IT band.
Most commonly, an injury to these ligaments occurs when the knee is forced into a position it isn’t naturally supposed to go into. The sports with high impact have this occur more often than cross country skiers do, but our relatives aren’t as lucky. Injuries to these ligaments is more common in downhill skiing because of the falls that can occur. Basically, if you can stay on your feet and are striding and gliding normally, you shouldn’t be at risk!
November 22nd, 2011
Muscle of the week! Meet your Latissimus Dorsi…more commonly known as your “lats”. The latissimus dorsi is a large muscle that is one of the more superficial muscles on your back. This bad boy is a huge help when it comes to skiing! Do you think it’s just your biceps holding you back from doing one more pull up? Think again, the latissimus dorsi plays a big role with pull ups and ski specific motions! Here are some basic facts…
Origin: Spinous process of the lower six thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (mid to lower back), the sacrum, and the posterior iliac crest (part of your pelvis)
Insertion: Medial margin of the intertubercular groove of the humerus (crosses the shoulder joint to your arm)
Muscle action: Extends, adducts (moves arms closer to body), medially rotates the arm. Along with pulling the shoulder down (pull up motion)
The soreness that comes with this muscle can present itself in different ways. The day or two after a hard double pole workout or set of pull ups, the pain can present itself laterally to your shoulder blades (scapula) and often feel like it goes into your armpit. The reason the pain is there is because this is near the insertion of the muscle, and thats where its experiencing the greatest pull. Other soreness can be low back pain spasm, which could be related to a multitude of things: hip alignment issues, leg length discrepancy, poor technique, first time classic racing in a while, etc.