The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on July 6, 1998 · Page 26
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The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee · Page 26

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Nashville, Tennessee
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Monday, July 6, 1998
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Page 26
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Monday, July 6 IW 7C SPORTS INJURIES .exflbMlLy ireiiiices munscle pim i TH1 TIWNIMEAH But most of the Bulls are good about reporting pain early including Michael Jordan, who has avoided injuries during most of his career. "But he plays sick and hurt to a greater extent than a lot of players, sort of like Cal Ripken Jr.," Schaefer said. "Michael is well-compensated, and he feels a need to live up to that." itVili It' in m i hi i m JOLLY BISHOP "We get a lot of weekend warriors who lead a sedentary lifestyle , and then jump right into a sport," said Dr. Joseph Chenger, an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Ortho- ' paedics & Sports Medicine. "It's best to maintain a good level of . fitness and stay In sports your body is capable of handling." And even the best-conditioned athletes run into trouble. Matthew. Griffith (10-0, 1.47 ERA) was one of the top pitchers on David Lipscomb's state championship baseball team this season, but he suffered an elbow injury during the .: substate game. He's now in rehabilitation at Baptist Sports Medicine Center, and he has some advice for younger pitchers. ,, "Dont take your arm for grant-; ed," Griffith said. "It's the only one'' you've got and if that's messed up," you're done." Sports medicine has made great strides during the last quarter-cen-- tury. The technology is greatly ad-S vanced, but there is still a lot of mystery out there. 1 "One year we'll have a ton of injuries and another year well have just a few," Oilers trainer ' Brad Brown said. "It's a hard thing " to break down. Sometimes I think we're just lucky. There's a tendency to make it too scientific." The Oilers go out of their way to keep their players healthy because ' they are no good to the team on the sideline. But their philosophy , also applies to younger athletes. "We try as best we can to pre-; vent injuries," Oilers assistant certi-' fied trainer Jeoff Kaplan said. "An 1 ounce of prevention is worth a ; pound of cure." her right knee and another for ankle reconstruction. "It's probably bad luck more than anything," Jolly said. "But you can't dwell on them, or It will cause your game to suffer." To lower the chance for knee injuries, she said, strengthen the quadriceps (the muscle on top of your thigh) and calves. High-top basketball shoes lessen the severity of ankle injuries, and most basketball players have their ankles taped and wear a brace if they've had a previous injury. Watch for fatigue. When you're out of gas, your body tries to cheat, and you can get hurt. Take a break. "Most injuries occur when an athlete gets tired," Tennessee State University athletic trainer Rod Newman said. "He doesnt follow through on a play and something happens." Most college programs hire strength and conditioning coaches to keep that from happening. Younger athletes also can begin strength training exercises, too. Just ask Hunters Lane's Williams. "The best advice I could give is not to overwork and listen to your body," he said. "Before the injury, I was coming off a stress fracture and I felt my knee was weak. Maybe I should have done more squats." Ice. For some sports like football ice treatment is helpful. "It depends on the athlete's past medical history, but if we have a player with a knee problem we ice every day," Oilers assistant certified trainer Jeoff Kaplan said. "It decreases the swelling. The running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs who do a lot of running take ice baths at 50- to 60-degrees up to their waists." Yet Nashville Sounds trainer Sandy Krum cautions that ice treatment doesnt work for everyone. "Nothing is etched in stone that a player must ice," Krum said. "You must differentiate between maintenance and injury prevention. You have to get a sense of how your body responds before you make a long-term decision about what's best for you." Eat well. Katie Janky's Vanderbilt basketball career has been hampered by three stress fractures. She knows the importance of a good diet. "Drink lots of milk," Janky said. "The calcium is great for bone strength. Vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates are good. Your body is like a car. If you put bad stuff in the car, it's not going to go good." When the pain begins But injuries will happen. No matter how high an athlete's fitness level, there's always a risk, especially in contact sports. Chris Gaines, a linebacker whose football career included stops at Vanderbilt, the NFL and the Canadian Football League, had 11 surgeries for ankle, back and knee problems. "It's a violent sport," he said. "Every collision is like a mini car wreck, especially for a linebacker. I dont think the good Lord made the body to withstand stuff like that." Other injuries occur when an athlete is out of shape and tries to return to competition too quickly. Oilers. "It's devastating to see a 10-year-old pitcher who can't play baseball anymore because his parents pushed him too hard. "I see kids get their careers wiped out all the time because their parents pushed them too hard. Some parents have unrealistic expectations for their kids. Not everyone can be a Steve McNair, Michael Jordan or Mark McGwire. "I'd say two-thirds of the injuries we see in young kids are from overuse. It's repetitive trauma that their bodies cant take. If kids experience prolonged soreness, they need to get it checked out before it gets worse." Many young athletes also get hurt because they've been taught the wrong mechanics, and there Just arent enough coaches knowledgeable about injury for the thousands of kids who play sports. Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance surgeon Dr. John Bruno thinks it would be a good idea for schools to hire certified trainers to assist gym teachers, who are often overloaded with coaching responsibilities. "Trainers know a lot more about injury prevention and injury treatment than gym teachers," Bruno said. "A trainer can look at athletic equipment and see if it's in safe, working order." Prevention, then treatment The keys, though, are to work hard at preventing pain, then keep a close eye out for it anyway. Chicago Bulls trainer Chip Schaefer doesnt like it when players wait a week before telling him about a sore muscle. The sooner he finds out, the better that way, he can keep it from getting worse. Jordan is extremely durable because he does the little things that are so important, the trainer said. "He's got his own personal guy for strength training and he maintains his flexibility," Schaefer said. "We have mandatory stretching because we're an older team." For athletes young and old who dont have that luxury face it, that's most people your health is in your hands. Several critical steps will help keep you off of your team's disabled list and prevent problems down the road: Stretch. Young or old, stretching is one of the best things an athlete can do to lessen the chance of injury. "Having good flexibility can prolong your career," said Oilers safety Blaine Bishop, who has been to the past three Pro Bowls. "I take yoga. When I came into the league, my muscles were real stiff." Experts say slow, steady stretches are best dont bounce and they should be done often to keep you flexible. Develop good balance. "Most ACL injuries are non-contact," said Jenny Moshak, trainer for the six-time national champion Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. "We've seen kids on film who are injured because they are caught in awkward positions. It helps if you know where your body Is in space and time." The Lady Vols use mini-trampolines, balance beams and rocker-boards to improve their athletes' balance, Moshak said. Train for gender differences. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Pagnani of Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance, who's also the lead physician for Nashville's Predators hockey team, sees a lot of knee injuries in teen-agers, especially girls. "They're just learning coordination, and in girls it's more of an epidemic," Pagnani said. "Moderation is the key, and cross-training is best with a lot of different activities." The Lady Vols' Moshak has to account for that, too. "We teach our athletes to use their hips in everything they do," she said. "A lot of female athletes do everything with their knees and they tend to have more chronic knee injuries. Some of it is from poor coaching when they were younger and they develop bad habits." Tennessee point guard Kellie Jolly has had three major surgeries for injuries two on the ACL in We're Back In The Swlna. Arthroscopic surgery makes recovery much easier Bad Weather Won't Stop Us! IS holes Cart Weekday's 18 holes Weekend's S2 6 ZfCart Good Thru July 31st! , AM. ,f , JL Tennessee Oilers center Mark Stepnoski, who has had reconstructive ACL surgery and three scopes on his right knee, describes a huge difference between the two types of surgery. "With a scope, they go in there with minimal trauma." Stepnoski said. "It's not invasive surgery. They can see what's wrong and you're not going to risk being laid up for a long time." And while the arthroscope is the rage now, it's even more exciting to think what lies ahead, medical experts say. "People are talking about a cure for arthritis, synthetic ligaments and reconstituted cartilage," said Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance surgeon Michael Pagnani, the lead surgeon for the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League. 'The things they're doing with an arthroscope now may someday be done through a needle." tation," said Dr. Joseph Chenger, an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Nashville. "In the old days, a surgeon had to make a 2-inch incision to do the same procedure." Some injuries are too extensive to be corrected through the arthroscope, such as a torn ligament on the side or the back of the knee. But for less severe repairs, the surgery is a breeze, with many professional players having routine 'cleanup' procedures at the end of their seasons. Some athletes have returned to competition three to six weeks after having their knees 'scoped," and recently some basketball and football players have played In games as quickly as nine days after such surgery. The scars are tiny little X's, instead of the railroad-crossing type of scars of the past By CHIP CIRILLO Sports Writer Most orthopedic surgeons and patients will tell you there's no such thing as minor surgery, especially if it's your body that's under the knife. But there's no doubt that arthroscopic surgery is the way to go when possible, doctors and trainers say and the future holds even more promising techniques. The 'scope' Is a pencil-sized telescope with a video camera and a fiber-optic light that's inserted into a joint like the knee or shoulder through two or three tiny incisions. The camera lets the surgeon see damage without having to make the deeper, larger incisions needed in the past. 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