Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yoga Poses and Meditation for back pain

Yoga- the ancient physical, mental and spiritual discipline - has been found to be a great intervention for chronic back pain. And many high level athletes use yoga as a part of their training and recovery programs. The physical stretches are the most helpful part of the recovery but let us not forgot that the mental aspect of the discipline is quite beneficial to recovery as well.

By holding a pose in yoga, our muscles strengthen. If you can hold it for about a minute and start to feel a burn you are strengthening your muscle. Yoga is a workout that reduces stress, increases flexibility and coordination.

Studies have found that sixty to ninety percent of adults will suffer from back pains. Outside the athletics world, we put our back through so much lifting, heaving, twisting and shoving in every-day life. Some of the numerous causes of back pains include: poor posture, excess body weight, herniated disc and degenerative disks to name a few. With all that work our backs are doing it’s not surprising that with 20 small intricate joints building our vertebrae, our backs are taking a beating. Add to that any athletic endeavor and it is obvious that we need to be mindful of our back health.

Although yoga is ideal for back pain recovery, simple stretching activities also work to help relieve the pain. The focus on mindfulness is what makes yoga differ from simple stretching. It calms the body and gives peace of mind. A large emphasis in yoga is good posture, which help counter the initial causes of the back pain. Before stretching your way into recovery, try asking a healthcare professional what works best for you.

Contact SIRC for more information on yoga!

Reference from the SIRC Collection: 
(2012) Suffering from Low Back Pain? Maybe You Should Try Yoga. Tufts University health & Nutrition Letter, 29(12), 3.

Online Resource:
Shepley Caron (2012). Yoga for Sports Performance: Why Yoga is an Athlete’s “Secret Weapon”. Presented at the 2012 Coaches of Ontario Conference. Retrieved from the Internet March 29, 2012.

Holingshead, Sue. Yoga for Sports Performance. Retrieved from IDEA Health & Fitness Association website March 29, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's more than just an injury

Often when athletes get injured and have to spend time away from sport, we only think about the recovery of the physical injury. A successful return to competition can be dependent on psychological rehabilitation as well. An article from Athletic Therapy Today, 'Psychological Rehabilitation for Recovery From Injury: The SCRAPE Approach' by Christopher James Hinderliter and Bradley J. Cardinal, helps to outline how coaches, trainers, and/or teachers can help an athlete's rehabilitation on the psychological end.

The acronym to help remember the key features is SCRAPE.
S - Social Support
C - Confidence and Competence
R - Refer
A - Accomodate
P - Psychological Skills
E - Educate

Social Support
Having a network of friends, teammates, coaches, trainers available for the injured athlete to connect with and share similar experiences can help the athlete understand the rehabilitation process they are going through and the work required.

Confidence and Competence
The clinician who attends to the patient can make a huge difference by instilling confidence and competence creating a positive outlook on the recovery process. Knowledge transfer to the patient helps them to view the rehabilitation as opportunity to show progressive improved physical ability, and traits like commitment and desire.

Often sport med doctors and trainers don't have training in psychology, and an athlete may not respond to a clinicians efforts to help the psychological process, so referral to a psychologist can be the best step.

The athletic trainer should work with the athlete recognizing their natural disposition and personal needs. Treatment and rehab should be individualized to each athlete to help keep the patient focused on the common rehabilitation goal.

Psychological Skills
Imagery, relaxation and goal setting will help to foster a positive outlook on recovery. They can help instill confidence, motivate, and improve the athlete's self-image.

The education of the athlete on typical recovery time, restrictions, and therapy can help the patient be more active in the process. When educating the athlete refrain from using terminology that the athlete may not understand or may confuse the athlete.

So the next time you face an athlete with an injury, think beyond the physical aid that can be provided and heal the mind as well.

Contact SIRC for more information on the physical and psychological side of sport injury! 

Reference from the SIRC Collection:
Hinderliter, C., & Cardinal, B. J. (2007). Psychological Rehabilitation for Recovery From Injury: The SCRAPE Approach. Athletic Therapy Today, 12(6), 36-38. (Order full text from SIRC)

Online Resources:
Weiss, M. (2003) Psychological Aspects of Sport-Injury Rehabilitation: A Developmental Perspective. Journal of Athletic Training, 38(2): 172–175.
Crust, Lee. Psychological Rehabilitation Techniques. Retrieved from the Internet March 27, 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exercising for Two!

Congratulations!!! You just found out you are pregnant and you are looking forward to all the exciting changes to happen over the next few months. But most of all you are now “eating for two” so this is an excuse to eat whatever you want whenever you want.

Although this is the belief among many pregnant women it is not true. Now more than ever you should be taking care of your body, watching what you eat and exercising regularly. Excess weight gain is becoming a major issue among pregnant women and it can lead to gestational diabetes and hypertension.

 The benefits of exercising while pregnant are substantial for prevention, labour and mental health.
  •  Prevention 
    •  Excessive weight gain 
    • Post partum weight retention 
    • Gestational diabetes 
    • Obesity
    • Heart disease 
  • Labour
    • Physical discomfort and complications during labour and delivery are lower in active women
    • You will have greater stamina to get through labour 
    • Recovery tends to be shorter 
  • Mental Health 
For women in a healthy low-risk pregnancy it is encouraged to participate in mild to moderate intensity exercise. This will pose no threat to the mother or fetus. The best kind of exercise is aerobic activity (using large muscle groups). A great example is walking!

A great guideline to follow is the F.I.T.T. principles:
  • Frequency (F) - 3 to 4 times a week 
  • Intensity (I) – this is monitored by heart rate or the “talk test” (pregnant women should be able to have a conversation while exercising and not be out of breath) 
  • Time (T) – 15-30 minutes of intense work out preceded by a warm up and followed by a cool down 
  • Type (T) - activities should be low-impact and non-weight bearing 
It is also important to do muscle conditioning exercises while pregnant, however extra caution should be taken:
  • Do not exercise laying on your back (after 16 weeks) 
  • Avoid bouncing exercises
  • Stretches should be controlled
  • Avoid abdominal exercises
  • Correct posture and neutral pelvic alignment
  • Avoid holding breath 
  • High repetition should only be done with low weights
It is extremely important before beginning any exercise regime, but especially when pregnant, that you consult your health care professional before commencing.

For additional resources:
References from the SIRC Collection
Mottola, M. (2011) Exercise and Pregnancy: Canadian Guidelines for Health Care Professionals. August 2011, 22(4).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

'I love watching you play?'

After three decades of informally surveying hundreds of college athletes, two former longtime coaches have become advocates for athletes and voices for youth. Both Bruce Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC, have spent their last 12 years speaking to millions of athletes at colleges, high schools and youth leagues about their views on parents and sport.

When the college athletes were asked “what is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?”, the most popular response was: “the ride home with my parents.” The reason behind this is that young athletes are quicker in moving on from the game to everyday life, while often parents use the car ride home to analyze the game. After a young athlete has taken off his equipment he reverts back to being a kid.

On the other hand when asked what makes the young athlete feel great after a game,  the most popular response was hearing: “I love to watch you play.” This makes it clear to the athlete that their parent has taken notice of their son or daughter playing. Kids want their parents to be just that, the unconditional loving parent, leaving the sideline coaching to the coach, the calls to the officials and the game critiquing to the team.

However, it is noted that that parents aren’t making the ride home from games unbearable for their child on purpose. These aren’t the stereotypical angry parents who spends the game hollering and harassing the referees but rather the regular parent who can’t help but talk about the game on the ride home. So the important part is finding the balance when showing your child that you are involved with his or her activity.

Maybe parents should take a lesson from their parents ... “Overall, grandparents are more content than parents simply enjoy watching the child participate.” Brown explained while speaking to a high school. The grandparent is more than content watching the game and giving a hug or kiss after the game. They also support the child with “I love to watch you play” and at not criticizing play.

Signs of a overzealous parent
  • Overemphasizing sport at the expense of sportsmanship
  • Having different goals then your child
  • Treated your child differently after a loss than a win
  • Undermining the coach
  • Living your own athletic dream through the child 
 Signs of an ideal sport parent
  • Cheer on everyone on the team, not just your child
  • Model appropriate behavior
  • Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach
  • Know your role
  • Be a good listener and a great encourager 
Henson, S. (2012) What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent - - And What Makes A Great One. Retrieved from the Internet March 19, 2012.

Contact SIRC for more information on parents and sport!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healing Shortcut

Following an injury, it is often hard having to sit out and wait to recover. This is when a new therapy has been called into play,  platelet-rich plasma (PRP) surgery. The therapy consists of placing athlete’s blood in a centrifuge and reinserting it in the wound. The end result is healed tissue. This therapy is often claims to speed up recovery.

However, studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association have found that PRP was no better than a placebo injection of saline in treating Achilles tendinopathy. PRP has also been proven not to be effective in acute sport injuries. The reasoning for the lack of consistency is because there has yet to be an ideal formula.

One of the main controversies associated with this therapy is that the World Anti Doping Agency has judged that the process unfairly increases muscle strength. Not to forget the therapy does not come at a low cost. The $1000 price tag may put off athletes that can wait the few weeks for the injury to recover through other therapies and/or treatment.

This all leads to the question, is it all really worth it? There are alternatives to PRP, the most prominent being physical therapy. This is a much less painful and cheaper alternative. PRP should be a last resort, athletes should try all non surgical procedures before considering going under the needle.

Source from the SIRC Collection 
Reynolds, G. (2011). Heal Thyself. Outside, 36(8), 98-99.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coaching for Excellence

Why are some coaches deemed more successful than others?  What sets them apart?

There has been much research concentrated around the concept of identifying ideal characteristics of coaches. A recent article boils some of these concepts down and outlines why coaches succeed while others fail and highlights the following habits of effective coaches:
  • Make training more challenging and more demanding than the competition your athletes are targeting
  • Learn and develop as a coach at a faster rate than your athletes
  • Accelerate your rate of learning faster than your opposition
  • Enhance your creative thinking skills
  • Coach individuals - even in team sports
  • Ensure that every athlete you work with out-prepares (in every aspect) their opposition
  • Adapt your training plans and programs to optimize their impact on each athlete at every training session
  • Performance practice - not practice makes perfect
  • Adopt an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to talent development and performance enhancement
  • Lead - The great coaches are leaders
So knowing which habits a coach should strive towards is most of the battle. But what are the things that should be avoided as a coach. There are reasons identified that coaches can fail:
  • Compromise. Do not compromise on preparation
  • Lacking belief in themselves
  • Copying others. Be original, be creative. Adapt and improve upon others.
  • Relying too much on learning from only within their own sport
  • Relying too much on emotion
  • Using the same programs over and over and over
  • Failing to engage their athletes
  • Lack of persistence
  • Lack of vision
  • Not spending enough time maximizing their strengths
A great coach doesn't hesitate to learn. Identifying where you are excelling and where you might make some changes or improvements to your coaching style can only benefit your coaching and your athletes.

Reference from the SIRC Collection:
(2012). A Pair of 10s: Two articles examining why coaches fail and what some do to succeed. Soccer Journal, 57(1), 44;46.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Smoothies can be a Quick Fix

If you’re pressed for time but looking for a nutritious fix, a smoothie is an ideal choice. Smoothies can serve as a quick snack or as an addition to a regular meal. An athlete can make a smoothie according to their desires and fitness needs. For instance an athlete looking to lose some weight can make a smoothie comprising of low calorie ingredients such as fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are anti-oxidants which gives the body a boost. Smoothies are an alternative source to provide the body with nutrients that you may be missing. By adding dairy products, nuts and seeds, the smoothie becomes an excellent source of protein. Other than the smoothie’s ingredients, a blender is the only necessary component for your recipe.

Key ingredients for a healthy yet tasty smoothie:
  • Carbohydrate Sources - Fresh or frozen fruit, almonds, fruit purees, mangos, carrots and banana. 
  • Protein Sources - Milk (soy), yogurt( plain, fruit, Greek), cottage cheese. 
  • Sweet Sources - Honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, fruit juice. 
  • Healthy Fat Sources - Almond butter, peanut butter, avocados, coconut milk, coconut oil. 
Why not give these smoothies a try!
Carrot Pineapple smoothie has few calories and makes for a perfect pre practice snack. On the other hand the Strawberry Flaxseed smoothie is an ideal snack for athletes trying to gain or maintain their weight.

Strawberry Flaxseed
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
½ cup 100 percent orange juice
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

Carrot Pineapple
Cup of fresh pineapple
¼cup chopped carrots
½ cup of ice
1 cup of 100 percent orange juice

Reference from the SIRC Collection:
Dolan, S., The Blend Boost. Volleyball USA. Winter2011-2012, 39(4),

Online Smoothie resources:
Smoothies for athletes
The Ultimate Endurance Athlete Smoothie

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Implementing Your Strategic Plan

On February 28, 2012 SIRC hosted the latest in a series sport governance webinars entitled ‘Implementing Your Strategic Plan’ presented by Dina Bell-Laroche of the Sport Law & Strategy Group. The goal of this series of sport governance webinars, done in partnership with Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee, is to help sport organizations advance good governance within their organizations.

Ms Bell-Laroche discussed 10 ‘tips & truisms’ gathered from management science, experience and good practices in and outside of sport on strategic planning. The following are some of the highlights of the webinar:

Bringing your Strategic Plan to Life
Moving it off the shelf and into practice

Strategic Planning is …
A systematic process through which an organization agrees on – and builds commitment among key stakeholders to – priorities that are essential to its mission and which are responsive to the environment.

10 Tips for Implementing your Strategic Plan
  1. Communicate – Develop a communications plan with core messages and share with key stakeholders 
  2. Keep it relevant - Plans need to evolve and adapt in order to maintain relevance
  3. Compass – Make sure everything you do is helping you achieve your mission, move towards your vision, reflective of your values 
  4. Measure Progress - Once the plan is approved, develop indicators to demonstrate progress for the plan and activities 
  5. Train and Educate – Ensure that you have the knowledge you need to implement your plan 
  6. Engage – Proactively communicate and look for ways to involve your members. It doesn’t stop once the plan has been approved, it continues 
  7. Budget - Integrate budgeting into your planning process. Ensure budget reflects priorities. Ensure plan meets available human/financial resources 
  8. Show Early Wins – Demonstrates action. Shows progress. Creates trust. 
  9. Celebrate Success - Recognize contributions in creative and impactful ways. Creates a sense of accomplishment and builds momentum 
  10. ‘Can Do’ Culture - Recognize that ongoing investment is required to create the right environment that encourages the “doing” in a planned and strategic way 
 An archived version of this webinar, the PowerPoint slides, as well as resources discussed in the session are available from the SIRC governance website 

The next webinar in the Sport Governance series on Board Orientation takes place on March 28, 2012 and will be presented by Joan Duncan, JDI Consulting. Registration is free of charge. 

For more information on Sport Governance check out the SIRC Sport Governance portal