Posts Tagged ‘Health and Fitness News’

r-JUMP-ROPE-WORKOUTS-403xFBcreditBy A.C. Shilton for Men’s Journal

Forget any association you had with jump ropes and gym class. The jump rope is a powerful workout tool. It builds cardio fitness, balance, agility and bone strength. It’s also one of the best go-anywhere fitness accessories, fitting easily into even a crammed carry-on.

“It requires a lot of coordination and really works your cardiovascular system,” says Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, the women’s 2014 CrossFit Games winner. She likes to train with double unders, a common CrossFit move that requires you to jump explosively and spin the rope faster to pass it beneath your feet twice. This works your muscles harder and pushes your cardiovascular system towards its upper limit.

To get the most from your workout, make sure your rope is the right size. CrossFit HQ trainer Dave Lipson says that when you hold the rope under one foot, the handles should just reach your armpits. To maximize results, practice good form. “Hold your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock and at waist height. Revolve the rope from the wrists, not the shoulders,” says Lipson.

And if you’re shooting for double unders, we recommend buying a speed rope with bearings. Speed ropes start around $20 and spin faster than inexpensive licorice and beaded ropes.

Now here are seven jump rope workouts — most of which can be completed in a half hour or less — that will have you burning calories and building strength.

High-Speed Circuit
Fitness competitor, former ballerina and coach Dom Spain teaches outdoor bootcamp classes in Miami. She calls jump rope workouts the “no excuses” workout because, “if I have clients that say they don’t have time or don’t have the money for a gym membership, they can always do this.”

This workout is designed to give you just enough rest to keep pushing through all of the exercises, but not enough to let things get easy. It can be done in 30 minutes and requires only a jump rope.

  • Warm up by doing 30 seconds of jumping rope, 30 seconds of air squats, then a 1 minute plank hold. Repeat four times.
  • 1 minute of jumping and 30 seconds of push-ups.
  • 1 minute of backward jumping and 30 seconds of tricep bench dips.
  • 1 minute of side to side jumping (imagine your feet are bound together, and jump rope while hopping from side to side) and 30 seconds of lunges.
  • 1 minute of skipping rope (one foot lands as the other takes off) and 30 seconds of jumping squats.
  • 1 minute of single leg jumping (30 seconds on one leg, then switch), and 30 seconds of mountain climbers.
  • 1 minute of alternating high knee jumps (like the skipping rope move, but pull your knees up as high as you can), and 30 seconds of flutter kicks.

Take one minute of rest, then repeat the entire circuit. Cool down and stretch after two rounds.

2015-03-03-1425415599-5776437-gymmachineshealth460

By K. Aleisha Fetters, 

Exercise machines are simple — too simple, in fact. According to metabolic training expert BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S. owner of StreamFIT.com, “They’ve been dumbed down to the point that they just don’t do your body much good.” Besides parking you on your butt, most machines isolate a single muscle, meaning you’ll burn fewer calories and gain less muscle mass rep for rep.

Most importantly (at least as far as medical bills are concerned), exercise machines can lead to injury. Even with their adjustable seats and pegs, finding the proper position can be close to impossible — and even then the movements just aren’t natural. “Free weights and bodyweight exercises allow your body to move in a natural range of motion,” Gaddour says. “When you fix it, it results in a limited and improper movement pattern that can be dangerous.”

Here, Gaddour shares five exercise machines you should swear off — and all-star alternatives that will give you better, faster fitness gains.

1. The Machine: Lying Leg Press
Your legs are strong (after all, they carry your body around all day), so if you lie down with your legs above your head for a leg press, you have to load more than the equivalent of your bodyweight onto the machine to achieve significant resistance, Gaddour says. Problem is, all that weight goes straight to your lower back, which flexes under the pressure. The risk? A herniated disk. Plus, the move doesn’t even work any of the stabilization muscles in the hips, glutes, shoulders, or lower back. The result: All pain and barely any gain.

Try This Instead: Goblet Squats
Apart from working just about your entire lower body in a single move, this squat variation involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest to keep your form in check and the weight off of your lower back. Sometimes, a lighter load delivers a better burn.

2. The Machine: Seated Leg Extension
Since the weight is placed so close to your ankles, the machine puts undue torque on the knee joint, which can wear down cartilage and cause knee pain, Gaddour says. Plus, the common gym contraption is built around a motion that has little real-life benefit.

Try This Instead: Step Ups
Besides working your quads far better than any machine, step ups also train your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. By calling up more muscles, your knees are actually strengthened, not worn down.

3. The Machine: Seated Chest Press
While sitting is less than useful, the bigger problem here is that the machine can cause lopsided muscles. How? If one arm is weaker, the stronger one can end up doing all the work — and getting all the benefit, Gaddour says. To make sure both sides of your chest are strengthened equally, you need to load them separately.

Try This Instead: Pushups
An oldie but a goodie, pushups equally engage both sides of your chest. If it didn’t, you’d fall right over onto your side. What’s more, they tap your core for support and balance. After all, hot bodies aren’t built on chests alone.

4. The Machine: Hip Abductor/Adductor
If it looks ridiculous, it probably is, Gaddour says. And squeezing your thighs together — or pushing them apart — over and over definitely counts. Besides actually working very few muscles, it also strains the spine and can make the IT band so tight it pulls your knee cap out of place — not a good look for anybody.

Try This Instead: Single-Leg Squat
When you’re not in the gym, your inner and outer thighs largely work to maintain stability. So they should do the same thing when you’re in the gym, right? Single leg exercises — like the single-leg bodyweight squat — require those muscles to brace your body and keep you upright, all while putting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to good use.

5. The Machine: Loaded Standing Calf Raise
While the idea here is to lift weight with your calves, the machine’s setup — specifically the shoulder pads — means that all the weight presses down on your spine before it ever reaches your legs. If it doesn’t turn you into a hunchback, it’ll at least cause you some back pain.

Try This Instead: Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise
If regular standing calf raises don’t have the resistance you need, try standing on one foot during your next set. Besides doubling the weight each calf has to lift at a time, it also puts your legs’ smaller, stabilizing muscles to work.

More from DETAILS:

The Only 5 Exercises You’ll Ever Need

How To Get Rock Hard Abs Faster

Shirtless Nick Jonas Explains How He Got His New Body

The Hottest Vanity Muscles–And How To Get Them

 

apple, flowers and measurement tapeAccording to Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, more than two out of every three adults in the United States is considered to be overweight or obese. Increasingly, these individuals are realizing the impact extra weight can have on their health and lifestyles, from increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to sore joints and limited energy. As such, many individuals struggling with overweight and obesity are seeking solutions to these problems, and turning to health and fitness professionals for help. In truth, fitness professionals are poised to make a bigger impact on public health than ever before. Are you prepared?

The ability to create effective fitness programs and offer the motivational techniques to help clients succeed are just part of the equation. Nutrition can make or break your client’s weight-loss program. While it’s vital to stay within your defined scope of practice as a health and fitness professional, helping clients achieve their goals and maintain those numbers beyond the short term with an expert nutrition plan and tips is always part of a successful program.

The best possible chances for weight-loss success with these 10 essential tips:

YOU CAN’T OUT EXERCISE A POOR DIET.

We’ve all heard this one and you may already be giving this advice. The truth is that diet is a significant part of the weight loss equation. Your clients should know that rebuilding their bodies into more efficient machines requires a (mostly) healthy diet with adequate calories. This is how they will best achieve their weight-loss goals.

MAXIMIZE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

When it comes to weight loss, fruits and vegetables may just be your client’s best friend. These nutrient-dense foods can help clients feel fuller with fewer calories, making them an ideal addition to every meal. Fruits and vegetables also make a great low-calorie “off plan” snack when hunger unexpectedly rears its head. Clients new to a healthy eating plan may want to work closely with a dietitian to explore the best choices and preparations for fruits and vegetables.

LEARN TO LOVE LEAN PROTEIN.

Clients exploring a weight-loss program may be unfamiliar with lean proteins that can help curb cravings and keep them satisfied from meal to meal. Skinless, white meat chicken and turkey; fish and seafood; certain cuts of beef and pork; and beans and soy products are all lean choices. Once they get started on a weight-loss program with you, ensure your client’s meal plan includes a source of lean protein with every meal.

READING NUTRITION LABELS IS A MUST.

We live in a fast-paced world. To grab our attention, many products now include “healthy” buzzwords. These often do not provide the most accurate picture of a product. When it comes to weight loss and health, it’s important to read nutrition facts panels for the most accurate information. In fact, a recent study from the University of Houston looked at the difference marketing buzzwords (such as “all natural”) on packaging made and found “every single product used in this research study that included one of the health-related trigger words was rated as being significantly healthier than the exact same product that did not include those words.” Clients unfamiliar with nutrition labels should work with a nutrition professional to learn the basics of making the best choices for their weight-loss nutrition program.

PORTIONS ARE POWERFUL.

Most of us have seen how “portion distortion” has played a role in the excess weightmany of our clients are struggling to lose. While reading nutrition labels can help, learning recommended portion sizes and even regularly measuring foods are essential to meeting weight-loss goals. Clients wanting to start a weight-loss program should understand these portion sizes may take time to get used to. The best nutrition programs include easy-to-understand measurements to guide your clients as they relearn portions as part of a healthy eating plan.

MAKE IT REAL WORLD.

Your clients’ weight-loss programs should fit into their lives to ensure that they are successful now and for a lifetime. The most effective weight-loss programs include some flexibility in schedule and meal plan, as well as strategies to navigate social events, busy lifestyles and even restaurant meals. Work closely with clients to identify the weight-loss programs that will work best for them. Dietitians can also help clients navigate this real-world aspect with healthy eating strategies.

When clients are ready to start a weight-loss program, set them up for success with the right information. Working closely with your client to develop the best fitness and nutrition program can help you deliver the weight loss results they want.


 

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Evolution Nutrition, a web-based nutrition management system, designed for you, the fitness professional.

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...


Doctor of Physical Therapy and current PhD Candidate,
University of Southern California
Posted: 10/08/2012 11:30 am

“Yo, what type of shoes should I run in?”

Whether in a medical conference, academic setting or bar, once people know my line of research, that’s typically the first question that pops up. Often times I feel my response is a bit coy, mostly because it would take longer to answer than what people have time for. Although there’s no hard and fast answer for everyone, I personally believe it comes down to the Three Ps.

Three Ps

We’re all different — in the way we speak, the way we think, and, unsurprisingly, the way we run. Thus, when determining the optimal running shoe, it’s imperative to consider your Three Ps: pattern, passion and purpose.

(Foot) Pattern

There are three basic foot patterns: normal, overly pronated (i.e., flat-footed) and overly supinated (i.e., high-arched). Most individuals present with a normal foot type and during traditional heel-to-toe running demonstrate rapid pronation upon heel-strike. In order to slow the rate of pronation, these individuals would be best served by a stability shoe, which is characterized by a heel counter (i.e., a stiff cup around the heel), a medial wedge and a dual-density midsole.

Relative to a stability shoe, a motion control shoe is less flexible due to an increase in dual density foam and a more rigid heel counter. This type of shoe is ideal for people with flat feet, as it’s designed to help compensate for the over-pronation.

The arch of the foot is supported by a thick band of connective tissue called the plantar fascia, which becomes taught — and thus helps to absorb shock — when the foot bears weight. In people with high arches, the foot doesn’t pronate sufficiently, negating some of the shock absorption. A neutral cushioned shoe compensates for this through encouraging foot movement by maximizing flexibility (via lacking a medial wedge and presenting with a softer midsole and heel counter).

Passion

There are a multitude of different running styles that people are passionate about: heel-to-toe, pose, chi, barefoot or minimalistic, and alterations in cadence. The common denominator in all of these running forms is a manipulation in the method of foot strike. Teachers of pose, chi, and barefoot running promote forefoot strikes, while an increase in running cadence typically results in an inherent change from a heel-strike, to a mid or forefoot strike for controlled running velocities.

The method to impacting the ground is influenced by footwear. In fact, relative to traditional running shoes, when people run barefoot, or in minimalistic shoes, they naturally shift to a more anterior strike pattern (likely in order to prevent collision of the heel with the ground). It appears that shoes with reduced heel-to-toe drops may help promote this. The heel-to-toe drop is a measure of the difference in the height of the shoe from the heel to the forefoot. Traditional running shoes have drops between 8-12 mm, whereas minimalistic shoes can be as low as 0 mm.

In order to determine the optimal drop, it’s important to recognize how you impact the ground when running. Although many people believe they are forefoot strikers, it’s been shown that approximately 75 percent of runners run heel to toe, whereas 24 percent are mid-foot strikers, meaning that they strike the ground with the middle of their sole. A negligible portion of runners run forefoot. In order to prevent excessive strain to the calf and Achilles tendon, it’s recommended that heel-strike runners who yearn to run in shoes with smaller heel-to-toe drops transition to them over a period of time (with shoes with increasingly smaller drops).

Purpose

With technological advancements in the footwear industry and an associated increase in the amount of scientific research concerning footwear, we now have a greater understanding regarding the attributes of shoes that can help runners address their specific purposes. For example, a bowing-out of the knees may potentially lead to degradation of the medial meniscus (cartilage within the knee), whereas a falling in of the knees may result in lateral meniscus degradation. A lateral or medial wedge, respectively, may help to compensate for these mal-alignments. Similarly, shoes with a heel flare — an outward projection on the lateral (and sometimes posterior) aspect of the shoe — may result in an increase in pronation during the initial stance phase of running. Although it will add weight or width to the shoe, it may limit the potential of developing anteromedial compartment syndrome. Relatedly, increased cushioning under the heel may also add weight to the shoe, however, it likely will take pressure off the plantar fascia, and is thus often recommended for those with plantar fasciitis.

A recent introduction to the running market is minimalistic footwear. The Nike Free has a foam based outsole that can splay. As a result of its minimal structural support, it may help in developing the intrinsic muscles of the foot. In contrast, the Vibram FiveFingers and New Balance Minimus have rubber outsoles and appear designed to optimize the barefoot running experience. Similarly, and as mentioned above, relative to heel-strike running, shoes with reduced heel-to-toe drops that theoretically promote mid or forefoot strikes will likely result in an increased demand to the ankle and a reduced demand to the knee (and their supporting structures, respectively). The caveat of all of these shoes, however, is that they may require training to the foot and calf and/or a transitional period prior to using them exclusively for running.

So I was recently having dinner with a friend of mine at this Chinese restaurant, and his fortune read “There should only be one thing coy in the room, and that’s the fish.” So while I hope I provided a sufficient running shoe guideline, when you asked me at the bar last Friday about what type of shoes you should run in, aren’t you glad there were no fish around?

For more by Rami Hashish, DPT, click here.

Follow Rami Hashish, DPT on Twitter: www.twitter.com/runinjuryfree


Physician; Writer; Associate Professor,
Georgetown University
Posted: 08/29/2012 8:17 am

A single rebound changed teenager Tracy Yatsko’s life. It was Jan. 10, 2005. Two minutes to go till half time in a hard-played game where she — a tenth-grade starting forward for the Tamaqua Lady Raiders of Penn Township, Penn. — left the ground momentarily while jumping for the ball, and then, on her descent, ball in hand, the collision: the back of her skull smacking into the head of the opponent who’d been guarding her. She recalls a brief visual blackout — less than a second — but she didn’t lose consciousness and even managed to get off another shot at the basket. Even so, feeling dizzy and nauseous, she opted for the bench for the rest of the game, just as a precaution.

Next day, though, the dizziness and nausea were still there. She attended school, finding that “I couldn’t concentrate, and I just wasn’t there,” but after a second night’s sleep, feeling better and hoping she’d weathered the worst of that head bump, she decided to suit up and start another game for the Lady Raiders. That was the breaking point. She made it through the game, but afterward, while changing in the locker room, she blacked out and fell to the ground. “I couldn’t hold myself,” she recalls. It was frightening, as it was now clear this was something she wasn’t just going to shake off.

From that first trip to the emergency room, says her mother, Linda McCarroll, “life was never the same.” Or, as Tracy puts it: “That’s when everything started.”

It was a concussion, and Tracy knew it, because she’d suffered one before, while still in the seventh grade. An MTBI, or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, as it’s known in the medical literature. That earlier MTBI she did shake off — or at least the symptoms went away after 10 days or so. But “mild” can be a misleading term. Yes, there are more serious types of brain injuries, but the concussions that occur in contact sports can have effects that — despite the “mild” label — last a lifetime.

As Tracy has experienced for herself. Initially, she spent the rest of her junior year at home, literally on the couch. “I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself. I had to cover the windows with sheets because of the light.” She has suffered constant migraines, nausea, vomiting, and had difficulty concentrating. She had to spend many days in the hospital, seeing dozens of doctors, getting all kinds of diagnostic tests. She had been on hundreds of medications, her mom says, some of them with terrible side effects. She lost many friends “because they were out having fun and I was stuck at home.”

As kids return to school and embark upon a new school sport season, stories like Tracy’s have put MTBIs — as well as other sports-related injuries — at the center of a debate that asks whether the price of getting hurt for the game is too high.

Journalists have begun focusing extensively on the toll among professional athletes, especially football players. But other experts — including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which held a special meeting on Capitol Hill in 2010 — are concerned about the effects on younger athletes.

For student athletes, studies are producing alarming numbers. One estimates that between
2001 and 2009 more than 2.6 million children in the U.S. were treated for sports-related injuries. Of them, more than 170,000 suffered from traumatic brain injuries.

That sounds like a lot, but they’re the tip of the iceberg, says, Dr. Dawn Comstock, of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Many injuries, she says, are never reported: “Nobody really knows how big of a burden sports-related injuries are.”

Part of the story is a lack of awareness — even now — says sports-medicine expert Dr. Clarke Holmes, of Nashville, Tenn. “Many young athletes don’t know what concussions are,” he says. Many, he says, may experience a head injury, but then believe “that if they haven’t lost consciousness then they should be okay.”

Except that they’re often not okay, a fact that may be especially important for girls to understand. Says Dr. Holmes: “There is some evidence to suggest that girls may be more likely to have concussions and that their concussions may be more severe.”

Severe is certainly what Tracy’s concussion turned out to be. Grade III. The worst. It’s been more than seven years since that fateful game and she’s still paying for it — paying for wanting to play the game she loved. Perhaps the hardest part was being told she couldn’t play sports anymore. Ever. Sports was everything to Tracy: “I was a huge athlete. I was really good in basketball and track.” So when the doctor announced her sports days were finished, “it ruined my life. That’s when the depression set in. I thought my life was over,” she said, holding back tears even now.

Indeed, many young athletes would agree that sports are what defines them. It gives them a certain social cachet and represents real achievement, as well as embodying real-life values like teamwork and competition. Sports can also be a ticket to scholarships, higher education, and exciting careers — if you’re really that good. Tracy was that good.

That’s why many athletes are reluctant to report their injury. They risk being misunderstood as weak or lacking in motivation. They fear being sidelined, losing their chance to shine, to show what they are made of. “That’s just how we grow up,” says Tracy today. “We grow up saying ‘suck it up and get back in the game.'” Remembering the winter of 2005, Tracy says she was worried that her trainer would “sit me out of the game” if she said too much. “I kept quiet, but I shouldn’t have played.”

“There is no shame in being hurt,” says Dr. Holmes. “If you hide an injury then you are not only hurting yourself, but also your team. Because you’re out there playing and you are not 100 percent, and you can let the team down. You could miss an assignment, not know a play that you should, you could be a step slow.” More importantly, he says, “You could predispose yourself to another injury, or even a second concussion.”

This is an important piece of the picture. Once a concussion has occurred, the player becomes as much as four to six times more likely to suffer a second concussion. And having a second concussion, studies have shown, can be even more traumatic, resulting in permanent brain injury from the cumulative trauma.

That’s why medical and athletic organizations are quite serious about when the appropriate time is to return to play. Guidelines vary, says Dr. Holmes, and each case should be looked at individually, but in general the athlete has to be completely symptom free for some time before being allowed back in the game. Depending on the initial symptoms, it can be as little as 20 minutes for a very mild first concussion with no loss of consciousness, to more than three months for a third concussion, according to some guidelines. Or it can be, as in Tracy’s case, never being allowed in the game again.

The guidelines, from organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology, and the Colorado Department of Education, vary. But they all agree that athletes should take time off following an injury and that premature return to play can harbor serious consequences. As serious and catastrophic as brain herniation and death.

Unfortunately, says Dr. Comstock, not many are taking heed. According to one study she authored, 40.5 percent of high school athletes with a concussion returned to play too soon. And males — true to stereotypes of being more “macho” — were more likely than females to not follow these guidelines. That study, in the journal Brain Injury, also showed that during the 2007-2008 season alone, 15.8 percent of football players who suffered a concussion and lost consciousness returned to play the same day.

But it is not just the athletes themselves who are eager to put injury aside and get back in the game. Coaches and parents are as much to blame. “I see how parents can get so involved in a game,” says Linda, “and sometimes coaches and parents can make the wrong decisions.”

She and Tracy are trying to tell their story to anyone who would listen. Tracy even testified before a congressional committee and told her story at the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania. “There have been a lot of coaches who’ve changed the way they’ve coached because of Tracy,” says Linda with pride in her voice. “They’ve been much more careful. They don’t put their player back into the game if there is any injury, whether it’s a head injury or it looks like they have a sprained ankle. Because of Tracy they’re really thinking twice and just admiring the message that she’s been putting out there.”

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head. It can happen due to a fall, or after hitting another player.

Symptoms of Concussion

Early symptoms may include: Headache, Dizziness, Confusion, Nausea, Vomiting, Vision Changes, Ringing in the ears, Sensitivity to light.

Late symptoms: Memory disturbances or loss, poor concentration, irritability, chronic migraines, sleep problems, personality changes, chronic fatigue, depression.

If you think your child had a concussion:

– Seek medical help at once. The doctor can help assess the severity and help determine when it is safe to return to play.
– Keep your child out of play until a health care professional says it is okay to go back.
– Report all concussions to your child’s coach, including previous ones, or those suffered playing another sport.
– Consider baseline neuro-psychiatric testing at the beginning of the season. Repeat testing after an injury can more precisely show the degree of damage and help with rehabilitation.

A concussion can happen in any sport activity. The top offenders are contact sports. “Player-to-player contact is the number one mechanism for injury,” says Dr. Comstock.

Higher injury rates, including concussions, are found in: football, ice hockey, boys lacrosse, soccer, basketball, girls lacrosse and field hockey.

For more by Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

Follow Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ranitmd

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-...

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-hang pull up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Cassilo
USA Today High School Sports
Doing a lot of heavy lifting might seem like the best way to strengthen your upper body, but sports training expert Rick Howard says that’s not necessarily the case.

We asked Howard, the founder of the Youth Special Interest Group for the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to shed some light on a few upper-body training misconceptions.

Myth 1: Focus on muscles you can see.
Howard:
Athletes work muscles they can see like their chest. That’s why they tend to do the bench press, biceps and abs. To improve upper-body strength, you have to have a balance between the muscles on the front and back of your body.

Myth 2: Upper-body strength starts in the weight room.
Focus on bodyweight training before you transition to machines like the bench press. You don’t always have to use a strength-training machine. There are all types of exercises like pushups to work your chest muscles and exercises like pull-ups to work your back. It’s a long-term process to get into peak condition, and you need to progress correctly.

Myth 3: Do as many reps as often as you can.
Start with one set of an exercise for 10 to 15 reps. Progress to three sets, then gradually add weight. You don’t need to do the maximum every time. The key is to have great form, not to do as many reps as possible.

Myth 4: Every athlete should bench to build a strong upper body.
Some athletes have shoulder injuries that preclude them from doing a bench press. For others, there are different weighted bars that might be too heavy to lift. Instead, you can use a medicine ball, bodyweight exercises or dumbbells.

Myth 5: You should strengthen your upper body on your own.
A lot of times athletes go into a weight room or in their basement and work out without supervision. That, unfortunately, is where most injuries occur.


Founding Partner and
Chief Executive Officer, Eating Recovery Center
Posted: 07/03/2012 10:40 am

With the 2012 London Olympic Games right around the corner, sports and athletic competition are increasingly on the minds of many men, women and children around the globe. However, in the shadow of sport’s epic moments of glory lies a troublesome reality — the incidence of eating disorders in athletes.

Experts generally agree that certain categories of athletics place these high-achieving individuals at a greater risk for developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). In fact, research published by Craig Johnson, Ph.D., FAED, CEDS, chief clinical officer of Eating Recovery Center, found that at least one-third of female college athletes have some type of eating disorder. [1]

According to Ron Thompson, a licensed psychologist specializing in eating disorders treatment at the Bloomington Center for Counseling and Human Development, consultant to the NCAA and International Olympic Committee Medical Commission and author of multiple books, including Eating Disorders in Sport, several factors converge to make athletes a special population at risk for eating disorders:

  • The pervasive belief in the sport world, held by both coaches and athletes alike, that the leaner athlete performs better, which leads to dieting.
  • Aesthetic, judged and endurance sports, including gymnastics, dance/cheerleading, cross country, swimming and wrestling.
  • Sports requiring revealing uniforms, which can put participating athletes at risk for body dissatisfaction and competitive thinness.
  • “Good athletes” possess similar personality traits to those who suffer from anorexia, which may predispose them to potential development of an eating disorder.

“I believe that the greatest risk to athletes is the challenge to identify an eating disorder within the sport world; if an at-risk or symptomatic athlete isn’t identified, they cannot be treated,” explains Dr. Thompson. [2] “Issues complicating identification involve ‘sport body stereotypes’ in which thinness is accepted as both normal and desirable, as well as the presumption of health with good performance.

Interestingly, the very same perfectionistic, overachieving and people-pleasing temperament that fuels achievement in athletic competition — both elite and casual — closely mirrors the personality traits of those individuals who tend to develop eating disorders. For both male and female athletes, the combination of these traits, along with the body shape- and weight-focused demands of many competitive sports, creates the perfect storm that can trigger eating disordered thoughts and behaviors.

Warning signs of eating disorders among athletes can be difficult to identify, as they can be masked easily and often go unreported by the athletes themselves. However, common indicators specific to sport participation include a decrease in performance, an increase in exercise outside of routine training activities, stress fractures and other overuse injuries.

If you observe these warning signs in yourself or in your athletic friends and families, support from a qualified eating disorders treatment professional and resources for eating disorders help may be necessary. Treatment programming and environment isn’t distinctly different for athletes than non-athletes struggling with eating disorders. However, identifying strategies to protect recovery following discharge, especially as athletes consider re-engaging in athletic activity on a casual or competitive level, is incredibly important treatment component for an athlete.

—1. Johnson, C., Powers, P.S., Dick, R. Athletes and Eating Disorders: The National Collegiate Athletic Association Study. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999, International Journal of Eating Disorders 26, 179-188.

2. http://eatingdisorder.org/blog/2008/03/athletes-and-disordered-eating—qa-with-ron-thompson/

For more by Kenneth L. Weiner, M.D., FAED, CEDS, click here.

For more on eating disorders, click here.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Follow Kenneth L. Weiner, M.D., FAED, CEDS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EatingRecovery