Posts Tagged ‘sports medicine’

Hand, Wrist & Elbow Live Chat on April 26, 2016

hand-wrist-elbow-emailWhether for work or play, we use our hands, wrists & elbows during almost every activity throughout the day. Overuse can sometimes lead to the development of painful conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. When upper extremity pain begins to interfere with your daily activities, it is time to see a hand specialist.

Join Emory orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Gottschalk, on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 12 pm EST, for a live web chat. Dr. Gottschalk will be available to answer your questions about the diagnosis and treatment – both surgical and non surgical – for a wide range of hand and upper extremity issues. Register for this live chat here.

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Keys to Preventing Soccer Injuries

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Dr. Oludade recently returned from a trip to Turkey, where he provided medical care for the United State’s U-17 Men’s National Soccer Team during the 2016 Mercedes Benz Aegean Cup. Dr. Olufade with head coach, John Hackworth.

Already the most popular international team sport, soccer is also the fastest growing team sport in the United States. With more people playing soccer, it is not surprising that the number of soccer-related injuries is increasing. Although soccer provides an enjoyable form of aerobic exercise and helps develop balance, agility, coordination, and a sense of teamwork, soccer players must be aware of the risks for injury. Injury prevention, early detection, and treatment can keep kids and adults on the field long-term.

The most common injuries in soccer that impact healing time are ankle/knee ligament injuries and muscle strains to the hamstrings and groin. These injuries may be traumatic, such as a kick to the leg or a twist to the knee, or result from overuse of muscles of tendons. Cartilage tears and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains in the knee are some of the more serious injuries that may require surgery.

Proper preparation is essential for preventing injuries from playing soccer.  Here are some tips:

  • Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch. In order to increase your flexibility and decrease the likelihood of injury, there are number of stretching methods you can use:
    • Dynamic soccer stretching – Often used at the beginning of a warm up. Making circles with the arms to loosen the shoulders, twisting from side to side and swing each leg as if kicking a ball are examples of dynamic stretching.
    • Static soccer stretching – Muscles are stretched without moving the limb or joint itself. A good example of a static stretch is the traditional quad stretch – standing on one leg, you grab your ankle and pull your heel into your backside.
  • Maintain fitness. Be sure you are in good physical condition at the start of soccer season. During the off-season, stick to a balanced fitness program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility.
  • Hydrate. It’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during, and after exercise. Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation. You may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness and more serious symptoms, all of which can increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Ensure Proper Equipment. Wear shin guards to help protect your lower legs, as leg injuries are often caused by inadequate shin guards. You should wear the proper cleats depending on conditions, such as wearing screw in cleats on a wet field with high grass.
  • Prevent Overuse. Limit your amount of playing time. Adolescents should not play just one sport year round — taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.
  • Cool down and stretch. Stretching at the end of practice is too often neglected because of busy schedules. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Be sure to stretch after each training practice to reduce your risk for injury.

At Emory Sports Medicine Center, our team of specialists is constantly conducting research and developing new techniques for diagnosing and treating the full range of sports-related injuries. Whether you are a professional athlete, or simply enjoy an active lifestyle, Emory provides comprehensive care, in a patient–family- centered environment, so together we achieve the best possible outcome and you can return to the sport you love. To schedule an appointment, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.

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About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunOluseun Olufade, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

Takeaways from the Sports Cardiology: Heart Health & Being Active Live Chat

sports-cardio-emailThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, January 26, for our live online chat on “Sports Cardiology: Heart Healthy & Being Active” hosted by Emory sports cardiologist, Jonathan H. Kim, MD, and sports medicine physician, Neeru Jayanthi, MD.

We were thrilled with the number of people who registered and were able to participate in the chat. The response was so great that we had a few questions we were not able to answer so we have answered them below for your reference.

Question: How much exercise is safe if I have been diagnosed with a heart condition?

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: Discussing the appropriate “exercise prescription” for patients with heart conditions is one of the key elements of sports cardiology. Each “prescription” is patient specific and accounts for key elements in the patient’s history, cardiac condition, and results of cardiac testing. It is important to emphasize that, one, cardiac testing obtained is unique to each patient and their condition. Most testing will include, however, an EKG, imaging of the heart (echocardiogram), and functional exercise testing. Two, the “prescription” also takes into account the sports cardiologist and patient’s discussion weighing the risks vs. benefits of ongoing exercise and other key personal psychological aspects individual to each athletic patient. Thus, this is a very individualized discussion per athlete and per condition.

Question: Are energy drinks before you workout bad for your heart?

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: In general, high-energy drinks with caffeine carry the potential side effects related to caffeine. Many of these side effects are cardiovascular in nature (blood pressure and heart rhythm effects). In my practice, I generally discourage long-term use/ingestion of these high-energy beverages with caffeine if possible.

One of the questions from the live chat was too good not to share. See below:

Question: My 10 year old son wants to start playing football, but I’m concerned about the stories I see on the news about kids dropping dead on the field. His father’s family has a long history of heart disease. Does he need a heart screening before I let him play? Can his pediatrician screen him or should I bring him to a cardiologist/sports cardiologist?

  • Answer from Dr. Jayanthi: While it is devastating to hear these stories of sudden cardiac death during sports in children, fortunately these are exceedingly rare. It is very important to have an established relationship with your pediatrician or family physician to identify any risk factors prior to sports participation. If there are few risk factors and the appropriate heart screening questions and physical exam are done, there may not be any further need for evaluation.

However, if there are certain conditions in the family history, they may require referral to sports cardiology, such as sudden cardiac death and other conditions. We still do not have universal recommendations about getting EKG or echocardiograms prior to participation.

  • Answer from Dr. Kim: I agree with Dr. Jayanthi’s comments. In addition, it is critical to emphasize that many of the heart conditions that cause sudden cardiac death evolve unpredictably as we age. Therefore screening with heart tests in a 10 year old may not demonstrate evidence of a heart problem; however, that same 10 year old may actually have the genes for one of these heart diseases that cause sudden cardiac death. Therefore, as mentioned, the most important thing is to simply review family history questions, do an appropriate physical exam, and make sure there are no concerning clinical symptoms present in a young athlete screened prior to sports competition. The guidelines definitely recommend that any young athlete, regardless of age, should be screened by a physician with a detailed history and physical, only.

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. You can also visit Emory Sports Cardiology and Emory Sports Medicine Center for more information.

Also, if you have additional questions for Dr. Kim or Dr. Jayanthi, please feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Introducing Emory’s New Tennis Medicine Program

tennis-250x250Tennis is a great exercise. It improves aerobic fitness, lowers body fat, improves cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves bone health. And while tennis can be both healthy and fun, there is an inherent injury risk for those who play tennis, particularly for those who specialize in the sport. Given the impact of potential injuries specific to the sport, having a physician and community that understand the sport and its risks are vital.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve implemented a one-of-a-kind Tennis Medicine program offered by the Emory Sports Medicine Center which promotes health through tennis and provides specialized treatment for a wide range of tennis-related injuries. Our goal is to get patients back on the court as soon as possible, and teach them the techniques that will reduce their risk of further injuries and maintain their performance.

What Sets Us Apart?

Treating physicians, who are not able to incorporate more comprehensive evaluations, may be limited to standard medical treatments for tennis players. Our unique program will address tennis players’ needs by evaluating and treating injuries with a tennis-specific approach, including any needed rehabilitation, training modifications, injection procedures or surgery. We’ve also built three extraordinary components into our program:

  • On-court tennis evaluations
  • Ongoing communication with the tennis teaching professional/coach and tennis specific providers in rehabilitation, nutrition, sports psychology, and performance.
  • Continuing education to ensure tennis specific treatment plans

By being on the court to evaluate players’ strokes, we are able to work with coaches to plan tennis treatment programs that help athletes get back on the court more quickly and avoid additional injury through the years.

Our physicians and staff look for the root cause of every injury – such as mechanics, volume of play, equipment, inflexibility or strength deficits – and then provide proper medical treatment, recommendations regarding ideal training, and when appropriate, suggestions for tennis-specific stroke modifications. This combination helps tennis athletes play safely through injury and remain healthy on the court.

To receive treatment through this incredibly unique program for tennis-specific injuries, call us today at 404-778-1831 to make an appointment. We’ll get you back on the court in no time!

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About Dr. Jayanthi

jayanthi-neeru-aNeeru Jayanthi, MD, is considered one of the country’s leading experts in youth sports health, injuries and sports training patterns, as well as an international leader in tennis medicine. He is currently the President of the International Society for Tennis Medicine and Science (STMS) and a certified USPTA tennis teaching professional. He previously was the medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago prior to being recruited to Emory, where he will lead an innovative tennis medicine program.

Dr. Jayanthi’s practice is open to all children and adults with non-surgical issues related to activity and sports. He particularly loves working with young athletes of all sports, and tennis players of all ages.

Sports Cardiology: Heart Healthy & Being Active Live Chat on January 26th

sports-cardio-cilAsk the experts! Talk to the physicians who are the medical providers for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Dream, Georgia Tech athletes and more!

When you’re an athlete, professional, amateur or weekend warrior, you have unique health needs. Optimal health is vital to your performance and in some cases, your ability to participate at all. Even with the best training and care, the body doesn’t always cooperate. That’s where we come in.

Emory Healthcare is the first and only health system in Atlanta to launch a Sports Cardiology practice. Collaborating with the Emory Sports Medicine Center, the program not only focuses on diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease, but also preventing future issues.

The unique partnership between Emory Sports Medicine Center and Emory Cardiology means our physicians work together to diagnose your condition and deliver a proper treatment plan so you return to the activity you love, safely. This level of collaborative care is not available in programs that focus on cardiovascular health or sports medicine exclusively.

We encourage athletes and exercising individuals, and their families, of all ages and levels to join us for a live chat on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST hosted by Emory sports cardiologist, Jonathan H. Kim, MD, and sports medicine physician, Neeru Jayanthi, MD. Don’t miss your chance to get your general sports and sports cardiology related questions answered by the same physicians who treat the Atlanta Falcons, Hawks, Dream, Georgia Tech and other professional and recreational athletic organizations across metro Atlanta. Register below.

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Extending Nationally-ranked Orthopaedics, Sports and Spine Care

MSKmapRecently, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital was recognized nationally as a top hospital in the country for orthopaedics*, but did you know that we have more than one location? In fact, Emory offers comprehensive orthopaedic, sports medicine and spine care at multiple locations across Atlanta:

Clinic Locations:
★ Atlanta (also has an outpatient surgery center)
★ Dunwoody (also has an outpatient surgery center)
★ Johns Creek
★ Sugarloaf
★ Tucker

Hospital Locations:

  • Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital
  • Emory University Hospital Midtown
  • Emory Johns Creek Hospital

Physical Therapy Locations:

  • Atlanta (3 different locations)
  • Dunwoody
  • Johns Creek
  • Sugarloaf
  • Tucker

Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital is Georgia’s first and only hospital designated primarily to spine and joint replacement surgery. Each of our orthopaedic physicians has received years of specific training to specialize in his or her area of expertise and all use progressive treatment approaches, many of them pioneered right here at Emory and taught around with world. Surgical procedures and other treatments that are rarely performed at other hospitals are routinely performed at Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine.

In additional to expanding our geographic reach over the last few years, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has continuously reinvested resources and funding back into its existing facilities to improve research, technology and care delivery models, ensuring that the patient and family experience is unmatched. This commitment to delivering supreme care has resulted in our patients consistently giving us some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the country**.

To see an Emory orthopaedic, sports medicine or spine specialist at one of our convenient locations, call 404-778-3350 today. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours.

*Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

** Ranked by Press Ganey

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Related Resources:
Orthopaedics at Emory Healthcare

What is a ruptured ligament?

sprained-ankleA sprained ankle is a very common injury in athletes, non-athletes and people of all ages. Approximately 25,000 people experience this injury each day. Ankle sprains are usually caused by an injury that places stress on a joint or ruptures the supporting ligaments. A ligament is an elastic structure that connects bones to other bones.

A ruptured ligament indicates a severe sprain. The ligaments in the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, providing stabilization and support. Rupturing occurs when the ligaments tear completely or separate from the bone, impairing proper joint function.

Causes of ankle sprains

  • Sprains are common injuries caused by sports and physical fitness activities. These activities include: walking, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other jumping sports. Contact sports such as football, hockey and boxing put athletes at risk for ankle injury.
  • Falls, twists, or rolls of the foot that stretch beyond its normal motions are a result of ankle sprains.
  • Uneven surfaces or stepping down at an angle can cause sprains.

Treatment for ankle sprains

When treating a severe sprain with a ruptured ligament, surgery or immobilization may be needed. Most ankle sprains need a period of protection to heal that usually takes four to six weeks. A cast or a cast brace protects and supports the ankle during the recovery period. Rehabilitation is used to help decrease pain and swelling and ultimately prevents chronic ankle problems.

A sports medicine specialist should evaluate the injury and recommend a treatment plan. Meanwhile, using the RICE method is a simple and often the best treatment for injuries.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compress
  • Elevate

Surgical treatments are rare in ankle sprains, but surgery may be needed in the event the injury fails to respond to nonsurgical treatment. Possible surgical options include:

  • Arthroscopy is a procedure done on the joint to see how extensive the damage is. Surgeons look for loose fragments of bone or cartilage or if a ligament is in caught in the joint.
  • Ligament reconstruction repairs the torn ligament with stitches or sutures.

How to prevent ankle sprains

Tips to prevent ankle sprains include:

  • Stretching and warming-up before physical activity
  • Wearing shoes that fit properly
  • Paying attention to walking, running or working surfaces

The highly-trained physicians and surgeons at the Emory Sports Medicine Center treat a wide variety of sports medicine conditions and athletic injuries, including sprains and strains from the foot and ankle to hand and elbow.

About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunDr. Olufade is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

Related Resources
Is it a Sprain? Or a Fracture?
Find Out How to Prevent, Diagnose & Treat Ankle Sprains
What Should You Do When You Sprain Your Ankle?

How to Recognize & Prevent Heat-Related Illness

heat-exhaustionWith the extremely hot temperatures this summer and school sports about ready to start up, heat illness is a problem that should be on every athlete, coach, and parent’s mind. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 618 deaths per year are due to heat-related illness. Heat illness is triggered by environmental heat exposure and occurs when the body is unable to cool itself down. Heat can cause a wide range of problems from tight muscles and flushing to complete organ shut down and death. Heat-related illnesses include the following:

  • Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash – skin irritation from excessive sweating
  • Heat exhaustion – an illness that can come before a heatstroke as the body is beginning to overheat and shut down
  • Heatstroke – a severe, life-threatening illness in which body loses it’s ability to regulate heat and core body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes

People who are at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses are infants and children up to four years of age, people age 65 and older, and people who are overweight, ill or on certain medications.

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. Below are some warning signs to watch out for as well as tips for how to respond:

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

• Weakness
• Headaches or mild confusion
• Cold, pale, and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Cramping
• Abnormal Breathing
• Fainting

What You Should Do:

• Move to a cooler location.
• Lie down and loosen your clothing.
• Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
• Sip water.
• Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting begins and persists.

Signs of Heat Stroke

• High body temperature (above 103°F)*
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin
• Rapid and strong pulse
• Seizures
• Possible unconsciousness or severe mental changes

What You Should Do:

• Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
• Move the person to a cooler environment.
• Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
• Do NOT give fluids.

During hot weather it is important to increase your fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour and avoid drinks containing alcohol or a lot of sugar as they will essentially cause you to lose more fluid. It is important to drink some electrolytes too. A watered down sports drink is probably the best balance of fluids and electrolytes. Make sure you are “pre-hydrating” by drinking fluids prior to the activity. If you start a practice or game dehydrated, then you will only become more dehydrated and are more likely to have problems. You can monitor your hydration status by checking your urine when you use the restroom. Your urine should be clear if you are well-hydrated; a dark yellow means you need to drink more fluids.

Remember to keep cool, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, and stay indoors if possible. Finally, be sure to speak up and notify coaches, teammates, parents if you are starting to feel bad with cramping, confusion, or other concerning signs.

Related Resources
Preventing & Recognizing Symptoms of Dehydration Among Student Athletes

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Jefwebb-jeffreyfrey Webb, MD, sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. During his training and practice he has provided medical coverage for division I college football and other sports, multiple high schools, ballet, the Rockettes, marathons, international track and field events, and the Special Olympics. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College and many other club sports teams.

He is active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Understanding Exercise Induced Asthma

Sports Induced AsthmaHave you found yourself coughing, wheezing or feeling short of breath during or after exercise recently? If so, it may not just be due to being out of shape. It could be caused by Exercise Induced Asthma; also known as Exercise Induced Bronchospasm. Exercise Induced Asthma could be solely triggered by exercise, or due to a variety of other triggers. This, like other forms of asthma, occurs when airways in your lungs constrict and produce extra amounts of mucus, making it hard to breathe.

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include:

  • Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath while exercising
  • Chest pain/tightness
  • Fatigue during exercise
  • Compromised athletic performance

These symptoms can start soon after you begin exercise, and can worsen up to 10-15 minutes after you finish.

Seek immediate medical treatment if your symptoms get worse, since exercise induced asthma can be life threatening in emergency situations:

  • Shortness of breath quickly worsens
  • No improvement even after using a rescue inhaler
  • Shortness of breath continues even after recovery from your workout

There are no clear causes of exercise induced asthma, but factors that can provoke an attack are:

  • Cold air
  • Dry air
  • Air pollution
  • High pollen counts
  • Respiratory infections such as colds
  • Chemicals

No particular exercise is totally forbidden, but those that make you breathe harder can be triggers. These include basketball, running, hockey and soccer versus weightlifting, golfing or moderate walking.

Exercise Asthma risk factors include:

  • Already having asthma
  • Hay fever or other allergies
  • Having a parent or sibling with asthma
  • Smoking or second hand smoke exposure
  • Exposure to chemical triggers such as chlorine in pools
  • Being a child (they tend to be more active than adults)

After being tested and diagnosed by your doctor, they may prescribe two kinds of medicine: Quick Relief and/or Long-Term Control medication.

  • Quick Relief medication is for rapid, short-term symptom relief during an attack. Sometimes a doctor may recommend using it before exercise.
  • Long-Term Control medication is for frequent asthma symptoms that occur even when you are not exercising or when using medicine before workouts does not help. They are taken daily.

If using both, it is suggested not to use the Quick Relief inhaler more than recommended. Get in the habit of recording the number of puffs you take per week. If you find that you need to use it more frequently, talk to your doctor to adjust your Long-Term Control medication.

The good news is that with treatment, you can do intense aerobic activity, along with avoiding causes of attacks by breathing through your nose, wearing a scarf over your nose and mouth, avoiding exercise when the air is polluted or dirty, avoiding exercising near recently mowed lawns, and warming up before exercise and cooling down after.

About Dr. Mason
Dr. Amadeus MasonDr. Mason is an assistant professor in the Orthopaedics and Family Medicine departments at Emory University. He is board certified in Sports Medicine with a special interest in track and field, running injuries and exercise testing. He has been trained in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, orthopedic stem cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. Dr. Mason is Team Physician for USA Track & Field, Tucker High School, and Georgia Tech Track and Field.

Dr. Mason is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the America Road Racing Medical Society, and the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine and Science Committee. He has been invited to be a resident physician at the US Olympic Training Center, a Sports Medicine consultant in his homeland of Jamaica and the Chief Medical Officer at multiple USA Track and Field international competitions. He is an annual speaker at the pre-race expo for PTRR, Publix marathon and Atlanta marathon commenting on a wide variety of topics related to athletics and running injuries.

Dr. Mason is an active member of the Atlanta running community. He attended Princeton University and was Captain of the track team. His other sports interests include soccer, college basketball and football, and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). A Decatur resident, he is married with three children.

Related Resources:

Injuries in the Young Athlete – How much is too much?

Student Athletes Injury PreventionChildren should be encouraged to participate in sports at a young age. Sports can teach children so many life lessons and helps children build their confidence. However, many parents are starting kids in sports at a young age in the hopes of developing their child into a scholarship athelte or a professional athlete. If a young athlete shows promise, many parents encourage their child to specialize in a specific sport and train year round from as young as 6 or 7 years old. This could be harmful because children’s bodies are still growing and developing. Young athletes are more prone to overuse injuries. It is estimated that close to half of the injuries in young athletes are related to overuse/overtraining. In addition to injuries, young athletes are also susceptible to overtraining syndrome and psychologic stress. Female athletes are particularly at risk for stress fractures and even delayed puberty.

With the exception of baseball pitch count research (which has studied how many pitches a young athlete could handle before injury), there is not conclusive research that indicates exactly how much is too much training for a young athlete. The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends that young athletes should limit their sports specific activities to five days a week with one complete rest day from all physical activity. In addition, the same council recommends young student athletes take at least 2 months off a year from a specific sport to properly rest and rebuild their bodies. Young athletes should avoid playing on two teams in the same season.

Cross-training is good for the body. Our bodies are not designed to do the same thing over and over again, especially as youth and adolescents. It is also beneficial to play more than one sport. It allows athletes to develop more skills, be involved with a different group of teammates and coaches, and keeps them interested. It is also important to properly train the body in the preseason. In preparing for a season or a race it is important to increase training time/mileage by no more than 10% per week.

Sports are an excellent activity for young children and can help them develop life lessons they will use forever. Parents should be encouraged to pay attention to the child and allow them to rest and relax and take time away from their sport to rebuild and rejuvenate. Pay attention to a child who complains of muscle and joint pains, fatigue, or shows signs of psychologic stress. Athletics are a great way for youth to stay healthy and build a strong character, but remember that the number one reason that young people give for playing sports is “to have fun.”

About Jeff Webb, MD
Jeffrey Webb, MDJeff Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools and other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Related Resources: