Training Teenage Athletes with AlterG

For so many collegiate and professional athletes, learning and development begins during the teenage years. Start ‘em young, as the saying goes. And for good reason: training teenage athletes provides an opportunity to not only get them moving, but to help them learn the correct movements. This can put them ahead of the game (literally) as they become more competitive in college and beyond.

Training is Learning

Yet, training teenage athletes is about more than just learning how to play a sport competitively. It’s about learning the fundamental forms that athletes will use over and over again throughout the rest of their lives, no matter which sport they decide to play.

From bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, free squats, and lunges, to the fundamentals of walking, running, and lateral motion, establishing the correct fundamentals can help athletes perform at a higher level. More importantly, it can help athletes avoid injury that might result from bad technique. Here’s a few common approaches:

  • Repetition and drills
  • Half- to three-quarter-speed simulations
  • Recording and reviewing video with a coach or trainer

Gait Analysis and Training with AlterG

More often than not, teenage athletes tend to be unfamiliar with moving under the strain of added weight and resistance. When faced with these situations, they will often forget fundamentals, hence the tendency to develop bad habits. They might know how to sprint at 100% effort, for example, but they don’t necessarily know how to control their bodies while sprinting at 100% effort. Add in the pressure of official competition, and the challenge becomes even greater.

Learning proper movement and correcting anomalies is one of the common use cases of the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Many physical therapy clinics throughout the United States, as well as collegiate and professional sports teams, leverage our treadmills to train teenage athletes in a controlled environment that helps limit injury risk.

More specifically, Stride Smart Gait Assessment Technology can be used by certified physical therapists to not only help monitor and identify gait abnormalities, but to show the athlete incorrect movements in real-time. What a difference it makes for an athlete to actually see the improvements they need make. It makes self-correcting that much easier. And it can help avoid the development of bad habits.

3 Tips for Building Fast Twitch Muscles

Sprint faster. Be more explosive off the line. Increase agility and quickness. These common goals cannot be achieved without the development of fast-twitch muscles. What are fast-twitch muscles, you ask? The difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles has a lot to do with the intensity of movement sustained over time.

If a person were to hold an abdominal plank for a two minutes, for example, or do a wall sit for five minutes, they would be developing and using  (mostly) slow-twitch muscles. When it comes to slow-twitch, think endurance.

Fast-twitch muscle fibers, on the other hand, are activated by high intensity movements sustained in short bursts. Examples include sprints, burpees, and quick lateral movements. Many activities, such as boxing and basketball, incorporate both slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers.

How to Build Fast-Twitch Muscle

In many ways, building fast-twitch muscles is about diversifying your workouts. The idea is to introduce activities that force the body to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers it might not otherwise use. Here are three tips to help you do just that:

  1. Expand your strength training – Resistance training is an important cornerstone of most fitness regimens. Incorporate more fast-twitch movements by performing reps at a faster rate, or working in exercises like power clean and snatch.

  2. Sprints and agility drills – Straight sprints can be quite boring. Try adding changes in motion to your sprint routine, such as there-backs or three-point agility drills. Sprint up and down a flight of stairs. Incorporate resistance bands or perform explosive movements underwater. You can also recruit new muscle fibers by borrowing from sports you don’t even play, but that rely on good agility, such as football, soccer, and gymnastics.

  3. Work in some plyometrics – Plyometrics are all about quick, powerful expansions and contractions of a given muscle or muscle group. The burpee is a classic (and timeless!) example. You might also consider explosive bodyweight exercises such as jump squats, split-squat lunges, or plyo push-up. Military training and crossfit programs are famous for incorporating plyometric exercises, so start there if you need ideas.

Pushing the Boundaries Safely

You’ll notice that building fast-twitch muscle fibers often requires pushing your body beyond the limits you are used to. While beneficial in many ways, this also introduces increased injury risk.

Athletes of the highest levels often perform these exercises in controlled environments, or under the supervision of certified professionals. Tools like the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be used, for example, to limit injury risk and body-weight impact during highly strenuous sprinting exercises.

Regardless of how you choose to build fast-twitch muscles, remember that no workout regimen is exclusive of your diet and sleep regimen. Your ability to perform these workouts without injury, as well as to recover properly after taxing workouts, is just as important to building fast-twitch muscle fibers as the exercises themselves.

Back to School! How to Deal with Youth Sports Injuries

First, the bad news: summer is nearly over. Sigh. For parents, this means everything is about to get a whole lot busier—everything. Back to school preparations. Rides to and from activities, sports, and clubs.  

With everything going on, the last thing parents need is an injury or illness. A kid coming down with the flu is one thing. But a broken leg suffered at soccer practice is something different altogether.

Avoiding youth sports injuries, and understanding how to deal with them when they do happen, is a major consideration for any parent. Here are some important considerations.

Thinking of Getting Your Child Involved in Youth Sports?

Good on you! There are many benefits to participating in youth sports. Apart from helping kids stay healthy and fit, kids can also find fulfillment in the camaraderie and socialization that comes with being part of a team. According to the National Council of Youth Sports, youth sports can boost physical health, social well-being, psychological health, and even academic performance.

Yet, youth sports are not without risk. Stanford Children’s Health highlights some eye-opening injury statistics youth sports:

  • Approximately 30 million children and teens participate in organized sports, resulting in more than 3.5 million injuries annually (United States)

  • Approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children are the result of sports and rec activities

The riskiest sports? In an article in TODAY, Dr. Bennet Omalu listed American football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, and rugby as sports to avoid until the age of 18. And though contact sports carry higher risk, a child can suffer an injury no matter what sport they play.

Common Youth Sports Injuries

The most common injuries will vary by sport. Common basketball injuries, for example, will likely differ from those of swimming. Generally speaking, there are two types of youth sports injuries:

  • Acute
  • Overuse

Acute injuries are usually the result of collision or a certain movement. Examples of acute injury include fractures, sprains, and contusions. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, result from repetitive motions and repeated stress put on a particular part of the body. Tennis elbow is a good example, as is tendonitis.

How to Reduce the Risk of Youth Sports Injuries

There are a number of precautions that parents can take with their children to prevent youth sports injuries. We’ve organized them into three broad categories:

  • Diet and hydration. A child’s nutrition impacts their everyday life, including sports performance. Without proper nutrition and hydration, the body does not have what it needs to stay strong and resilient during athletic activity. This contributes directly to injury risk.

  • Preparation. There is a reason we stretch before going out for a run, or exercise at the gym. If we just jumped right into it, we’d likely injure ourselves. The games for youth sports, where stretching, strength and conditioning, and practice can help limit injury risk.

  • Protection. Helmets, pads, and other protective gear is crucial, even during practice. This is especially true for contact sports like American football.

My Child Suffered an Injury – Now What?

Many common injuries do not require any kind of escalation. The old formula—rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE)—will usually suffice. RICE and time.

When a child suffers an acute or overuse injury that requires therapy, however, you might consider physical therapy. Finding the right therapist will require a little work. We recommend look for clinics that specialize in sports rehabilitation and pediatric therapy.

You might also refine your search based on what tools and approaches a clinic uses. Some clinics leverage the Anti-Gravity Treadmill® for pediatric rehab, helping adolescents overcome pain resulting from sports injury or other conditions. The best way to find out is to just ask.

AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill and Youth Sports Injuries

Whether it’s a young person or seasoned professional, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be highly effective in rehab for athletes. Using unweighting technology, the Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be fine tuned to enable rehab while limiting the risk of re-injury or discomfort. Plus, what better way to convince kids to go to the physical therapist than to tell them they’ll get to walk on air!

Yes, the fall is here. The best way for parents to prepare for the bumps and bruises to come (and they will come!) is to stay informed and be prepared. Information is power, and knowing what to do when youth sports injuries do happen can help shorten rehab cycles and get kids back on the playing field sooner rather than later.

 

A Closer Look at Gait Assessment with AlterG Stride Smart Technology

To deliver the best patient care, clinicians need to stay up to date with the technology revolutionizing physical therapy. In our previous post, we took a look at Differential Air Pressure (DAP), the patented technology on which our entire line of AlterG® treadmills is based. Continue reading “A Closer Look at Gait Assessment with AlterG Stride Smart Technology”

3 Ways AlterG Technology is Changing Athletic Training and Rehab

In our previous post on modern technology revolutionizing athletic training and rehab, we took a closer look at the innovations helping PTs and athletes push the boundaries.

On our end, it’s usually the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill or AlterG Bionic Leg™ that grabs headlines. However, there are the three AlterG technologies that take these tools to the next level. They enable physical therapists and patients to be more effective during training and rehabilitation. Continue reading “3 Ways AlterG Technology is Changing Athletic Training and Rehab”

The Technology Revolutionizing Athletic Training and Rehab

For dedicated athletes, it’s all about gaining the edge. In training. In competition. And when injuries do happen, the more optimal and efficient the injury rehabilitation program, the sooner athletes can return to the arena.

Continue reading “The Technology Revolutionizing Athletic Training and Rehab”

Tips and Tricks for Celebrating Fourth of July Safely

Each year, Americans ring in Independence Day in style. Picnics, barbecues, and over-the-top fireworks displays win the day. We plan, we shop, we invite the whole family.

Sometimes the entire neighborhood!

In the spirit of American independence, here is some quick Fourth of July history, along with some tips for celebrating Fourth of July safely. Continue reading “Tips and Tricks for Celebrating Fourth of July Safely”

New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy

In our last post, we explored the various benefits of evidence-based physical therapy. In recent years, physical therapy has seen great advancements in approaches to evidence-based care. Optimizing therapy for better outcomes requires new innovations, new tools, and new sources of objective data. Continue reading “New Advancements in Evidence-Based Physical Therapy”

National Running Day 2018 – All You Need To Know

One of our favorite things about running is that anyone can do it. All you need is a little motivation, a pair of shoes (optional!), and some earth beneath your feet. This kind of simplicity is what gives running its global appeal. Moreover, affirming this passion for running is the idea behind National Running Day 2018. Continue reading “National Running Day 2018 – All You Need To Know”

4 Things Physical Therapy Professionals Wish Patients Knew

As a physical therapist, you know your business inside and out. You understand your patients’ expectations, frustrations, and challenges, and you adapt to accommodate them.

But that’s not a two-way street.

Patients rarely know what challenges physical therapists face behind the scenes. Four physical therapists share the things they wish their patients knew. Continue reading “4 Things Physical Therapy Professionals Wish Patients Knew”