Top 5 Factors Causing Hamstring Strains

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

 “What’s he got?” the coach shouts with frustration as I approached with my exam findings of the injured football player.

Before I could even start with my reply, he barked back with double the volume and triple the disgust; “It’s a damn hammy, isn’t it?!”

That conversation, if you want to call it one, took place more often than I want to admit over the past 20 years as Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Strained hamstrings have a way of adding to the stress level of everyone as the player, the coaches and the athletic trainers continue to search for the mystery cause and illusive solution.

Training Camp Strained Hamstrings

This year’s NFL Training Camps are producing more pulled hamstrings than anyone expected.  Reading over the NFL injury reports this weekend, only a week into a long season, it’s hard to find any teams without at least a couple of players not practicing because of a strained hamstrings.

What the Hell are the Hamstrings?

That’s not a typo.  It’s supposed to be plural because there are three (3) muscles that make up the hamstrings located on the backside of the thigh.  All three muscles originate on the lower back of the pelvis and extend below the knee behind the upper calf muscle.  Two of those hamstring muscles pass the knee on the inner or medial side while the third “hammy” inserts on the outer or lateral upper shin above the lateral calf muscle belly.

Simplifying the Function of the Hammies:

(in order of their importance for a football player)

  • Decelerate or slow down the extension (straightening) motion of the knee while running.
  • Assist in extending the hip.
  • Bending the knee.
  • Assist in rotating the shin in relationship with the femur or thigh bone while changing direction.

Terminology Check

Strain (medical) = Tweak (optimistic player) = Pull (pessimistic player) = Tear (bar guy)

They all simply mean that some of the muscle fibers within any of the three hamstring muscles has been torn.  More fibers torn means more bleeding, more pain, more weakness, more loss of function and more downtime.

Factors Contributing to NFL Hamstring Strains

  1. Fatigue – Weaker muscles are vulnerable muscles.  Have you noticed most NFL players with hamstring strains are the players in the skilled, speed positions?  The wide receivers, defensive backs and running backs typically head the list of positions who suffer most of the pulled hamstrings.  They are running and changing directions fast on every play.   When their muscles fatigue the important role of the hamstring is magnified, increasing the potential for fiber failure.
  2. Dehydration – Muscle dehydration is grossly overlooked in relationship with muscle strains.  Simply stated; a dehydrated muscle becomes less effective when forced to contract and relax quickly.  During high speeds and/or high volume activities the “drying up” of a muscle can quickly lead to a strain.
  3. Muscle Imbalance – Strong muscles tend to be tight muscles.  Weak muscles tend to be longer muscles.  When the strong or primary muscles, such as the hamstrings, are doing most of the work the less important muscles, such as the hip rotators or lower Abs, often become too weak.  This imbalance, much like a shimmy in your car, becomes worse high speeds.
  4. Poor Warm-up – Sweating on the outside doesn’t mean your muscles on the inside are prepared to contract/relax at full throttle.  A player who’s been standing around for 10 minute and is suddenly thrown in for a special teams play or a high-intensity drills is immediately at risk for a hamstring injury.
  5. Body Compensation – NFL players move very fast.  When the work load on hamstrings is high, other muscle such as the calves, groin and “glutes” (butt muscle) need to help more.  When other muscles above or below the hammies don’t do their job, the long hamstring muscles pay the price.

Strained hamstrings will tests the patience of the player, the athletic trainer and the coach.   Addressing these factors starting on Day #1 can help keep the players on the field and to help you avoid being the bearer of bad news.



Time For Change

Football - injury 101Football’s in the air.  It has a way of making sports seem legitimate again.  The buzz of training camp and how “my team” will do this season has dominated social conversations and social media this week.

For me, the excitement for another NFL season is here but for very different reasons.

The year was 1987 and I was a junior in physical therapy school at UConn.  That was the last summer I didn’t spend in an NFL training camp up to now.  I had spent the previous 3 summers, starting in 1984, as the New York Giants summer athletic trainer intern.

In contrast, I spent that 1987 summer working as a physical therapy intern for the Visiting Nurses of Hartford (CT) as part of my physical therapy school requirements.  After 3 summers of living out my childhood dream of working with an NFL team, I was cleaning bed pans, cleaning infected wounds and rehabilitating disabled elderly patients in housing projects.  Career Plan: Get into the NFL…and FAST!

This past February I stepped down from my position as Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist with the Jacksonville Jaguars to enjoy my important role as a father and husband.  It wasn’t an easy decision after 26 seasons in the NFL but when I see the joy in my two young children and wife’s faces when we have breakfast together every day, I know it was the right decision for the right reasons.

The Jags have their first training camp practice today.  I’m cheering for them to have a great season, as I always have.  Something will never change.  Sure, I’ll miss the guys, my staff, the laughs, the practical jokes, the rush of seeing players overcome injuries to get back on the field, the endless trays of food and, obviously, I’ll miss the energy of game day.

As for me professionally, exciting changes are here.  I’ve created a new company, Mike Ryan Sports Medicine, Inc., to manage my new physical therapy clinic and consulting business along with other fun sports medicine projects.  As for the details of those “other” endeavors, you’ll have to wait on that….

In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying the change.  Change in my schedule, change in my involvement with my family’s lives, change in my stress level, change in my workout routine (!!), and a healthy change in my professional challenges.

Change is good when the passion is enhanced.  Mission accomplished.

Fun times are here and it’s only getting better!

Gratitude, Change & a Trusted Vision

Ryan Jags 2011aApril 25, 1988 was the day my childhood NFL dream came true.

Ronnie Barnes, the Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Giants and one of my mentors, asked me if I wanted to join his staff as a full-time assistant athletic trainer.  I was 25 years old and a month away from graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Physical Therapy, my second degree in 7 years.

Nine years earlier, as a sophomore in high school, I had set my mind and heart on “being an athletic trainer in the NFL!” after “Miss G”, a caring guidance councilor at Mohawk Trail High School, showed me info on the profession of athletic training.  I still remember racing home that rainy spring day to share my powerful vision with my family.

End of a Dream

Friday, February 7, 2014 was my last day with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It was the end of a 26 year career that encompassed 533 NFL games including 2 Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl victory.  It was a decision I made three weeks early to rebalance my life, allowing me to spend more time with my family.  With a loving and amazingly supportive wife and two children under the age of 6, I’m ready to prioritize my family for the first time the way they deserve after a long season where I work 7 days per week for 5 1/2 straight months.

Making the Call

I’m no fool.  I know I had only 1 of 32 jobs in the world’s #1 most profitable sports league.  It goes beyond that when it comes down to those that you love.

What does it take to make such a big decision?

  • Gratitude – I’ve lived a childhood dream for over half my life with so many memories, experienced amazing opportunities, met so many wonderful people and developed outstanding skills for the next professional chapter in my life.  I have so much gratitude and appreciation for my family, my assistants, my doctors, my athletes, my medical consultants and mentors who have helped me throughout the years.  As I always say: “I’m simply the result of so many wonderful people who were willing to help me along the way!”
  • Desire for Change – I’m ready for a change, as is my family.  I trust my skills and my abilities to make this change something special.
  • Trusted Vision of Purpose – We all need PURPOSE if we want to be a leader in our life.  I have a very strong sense of purpose in my life and I trust that vision wholeheartedly.  My Personal Mission Statement is: To Enhance the Health of Others.

My purpose in this next chapter is to take what my staff and I have created in a professional football athletic training room setting working with world-class athletes and share it with millions of non-professionals interested in decreasing their pain, increasing their physical function and maximizing their active lifestyle.  Now that’s something to get excited about, huh?!

Giving Thanks

I have so many people to thank and I’m not sure where to start so I won’t.  The tens of thousands of extra special people who I’ve come into contact with over the last 26 years in the NFL are all somehow on that list.

I’ve had a wonderful career and I don’t take that for granted.  I’m thrilled for what I will created in Phase 2 of my profession.  We only live once so I plan on making my life grand.  As for the professional life, it will be exciting and well aligned with my Mission Statement.  In regards to my athletic life, I’ll be working my ass off to be extremely healthy in aspect of my life with lots of crazy/challenging races to keep my body and mind razor-sharp.  For the personal life part, it will be filled with lots of love and laughter….just the way I like it!

Measuring Your Fitness Program With Gratitude

iPhone 2010 312How does an athlete measure his/her success?

High profile athletes have coaches, fans and ESPN to judge their performance.  Runners and bikers have the clock to gauge the results of their hard work.  The athletes determined to lose weight have the dynamic-duo of the mirror and the weight scale to determine if their efforts were successful.

I recommend a different measuring tool: Gratitude, defined as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation”.

The Busy Life Dilemma

Today’s typical lifestyle is crazy hectic.  Personally, I work seven (7) days per week from mid-July until the end of the season in early January or February.  If I’m real lucky, I will get two (2) days off during the Bye Weekend if the injuries are low and I can properly stagger the off days with my amazing assistant athletic trainers.  That sounds insane to most people but that’s the way it is in the NFL as a certified athletic trainer and physical therapist.  This is my 26th full-time season in the NFL, 521 games, and I’m very comfortable with that schedule.

With that being said, it would be very easy to say “I’m too busy to workout”.  That is an absurd thing to say because it’s the crazy schedule that makes the need for a workout extremely important to me.  I need some “me time” to workout away from everyone asking for my help.  Be it just 45 minutes at 4:30 AM, that workout time is exactly what I need to strengthen my body and my mind to handle my daily duties.

Happy Heart, Great Start

Stress management isn’t too high on most people’s priority list these days and that’s a problem.  Taking care of your body, your mind, your attitude and your heart will change your life….and it may ultimately save your life in the process.

Reality Check

Have you ever had an injury that kept you out of your favorite sport?  Standing on the sidelines sucks.  Soon you found yourself saying: “Man if I could only (fill in the activities) again, I’d be thrilled!”

It was about 1:00 AM, January of 1984 and I was laying on my back in a dark parking lot in Hartford, CT with a dislocated ankle and fractured leg.  I was a 3:58 1500 meter runner getting ready to start my indoor track season at Central Connecticut State University but now I was in serious trouble and I was scared.  In an instant I knew my life had changed when I heard the loud crack and I realized that both my right knee and the back of my right heel were both facing in the same direction.  I remember looking down at my mangled leg and wondering if I’d ever run again.

I have to admit, I was burnt out from running at the time.  I was often running over 100 miles per week as I trained and raced on the collegiate cross country, indoor track and outdoor track teams while working in the CCSU Athletic Training Room at least 20 hours per week along with a full class room schedule so I could graduate in 4 years.

Two surgeries later and with a very aggressive rehab plan, I was ready to try to run again.  It was exactly 10 weeks to the day of my accident.  I put my books down, limped down the bleachers where I was studying and walked onto the track.  I ran 1 lap, 400 meters, with a huge smile on my face.  It was March 13, 1984 and I was a runner again!

That accident was what I needed to truly feel grateful to be the athlete that I was then and what I am today.  It shouldn’t take a devastating loss of a physical ability or a blessing or a life to make us appreciate what we have.  Being grateful is my measuring tool and my “reality meter” for everything in my life.  I get on my knees every night to give thanks to God for what I have because I’m very grateful for what I have today and I know that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Being Grateful…Now

NOW is the best time to appreciate your health.  Like everything else in your life, investing time and effort into your body and will reward you richly.  Stop taking your health for granted before you find yourself with an injury or ailment that puts you on the sideline watching others doing what you love to do.

The time to enhance your fitness is NOW.  It will test your patience so focus on getting better every day and celebrate your accomplishments along the way with passion.  There’s a new YOU out there and it all starts with you being grateful today while you work on being better tomorrow.

Fantasy Football Dominance Using NFL Injury Reports

Fantasy Football 62The NFL season is two weeks away and that means that the Fantasy Football Drafts are coming soon.  Fantasy Football popularity is very impressive and the number of football fans participating in fantasy leagues around the world continue to rise at an amazing rate.  As the Head Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist for the Jacksonville Jaguars, I’m often too close to the sports to truly appreciate the impact fantasy football has on the NFL itself.

Because of fantasy football, fans are following all 16 games each week because of the all important stats instead of focussing solely on the final scores.  Looking at the trend in NFL stadiums themselves with the installation of bigger and bigger scoreboards, it’s to share live league-wide stats not just the current game’s replays.

My #1 Rule

I have a simple rule that I follow each and every year.  When it comes to medical information about NFL players, I never discuss any details about my players’ injuries that hasn’t already been reported in the newspaper.

It’s a simple rule I learned from one of my mentors, Ronnie Barnes, Head Athletic Trainer of the New York Giants.  I don’t discuss details about medical injuries involving my players with my wife, best friends, family or anyone, period.  It’s easy to understand why and, as a full-time employee of the NFL for the past 26 seasons, it protects the private medical issues of my players.

Reading Between the Lines of an NFL Injury Report

With that being said, sharing how the medical reports are created within an NFL team would be helpful for fantasy football owners as they prepare their weekend roster moves.  Each NFL team has their own philosophy on how they practice injured players, how they manage an injury during the week and when they test injured players during the weekend.  A few years ago the NFL standardized how each team reports injuries to the league office to help avoid surprises when it comes to disclosing medical issues involving players.

Knowing how to read between the lines of these reports can make your job as a fantasy football owners’ job so much easier and make you look like a genius.  While the new guy in the league is drafting a kicker, you’ll be benching the player who is simply a medical decoy being used to confuse the opposing team’s game planning.

Trust me, it’s a chess match on this side of the fence.  I’ll share with you tips on how to “crack the code” to use NFL injury reports and player statuses as a huge advantage for your fantasy football team.

Fantasy Football Injury FAQ’s

What’s really the difference between questionable, doubtful & probable?”

If someone is limited in practice, is that player just playing the role of a backup for the starters during practice?”

If player X has a concussion, will he typically be cleared to play in the game the following weekend?”

These are some of the questions that many of you ask yourselves as you prepare for the weekend games.  Here’s the inside scoop on the manner in which the injuries are managed by the clubs.

Inside the Percentages

Probable – 75% chance of playing in the game.

Questionable – 50% chance of playing in the game.

Doubtful – 25% chance of playing in the game.

Counting the Reps

The number of reps that the starting offense and defense has on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are very limited.  These reps are treated like gold by the offensive coordinator (OC) and defensive coordinator (DC).  Therefore, players that take “snaps with the number ones” are expected to play on Sunday.

If a team doesn’t think the star veteran corner back will be ready for the game, they surely want their young corner to “get the reps” with the starters to be ready for the game.  Those quality reps with the other 10 starting players on that side of the ball are very valuable and are usually given to the player expected to play on Sunday.

So if you read that an injured player is only taking “some of the reps” and is “rehabbing on the side”, especially late in the week, it’s more than likely you’ll see him on the field Sunday… street clothes.

The Stats Killers: Hammys & Groins

As you’ve read in my past sports medicine blog postings on hamstring and groin injuries, these are difficult injuries to return from quickly for skilled positions such as RB, WR and DB’s.  Until the reports say he is running at least 85% by Wednesday and “full speed” on Friday, don’t expect that player to impress you on Sunday.  When a skilled player with a lower extremity soft tissue injury is being interviewed and he gives you the “day-to-day” quote, Sunday might not be his breakout performance.

With both of these injuries, the player’s top end speed is always in question.  The opposing players know it too and they use it to their advantage.  That’s why a player coming back from a strained hamstring or a strained groin may be playing in the game but their stats will be watered down for the first week or so.

Looking for The Edge

As a fantasy football owner, you’re not alone as you look for THE EDGE.  The players, the coaches and the GM’s want to find it just as badly as you do.  It’s the “X Factor” that helps you put the perfect team on the field Sunday afternoon that results in crazy numbers all over the stat sheets.  All of your fellow owners are brain storming to make the key roster move resulting in the WR having a career day or the trade for the young QB mid-week who turns out to be a hometown hero with a monster game.

Understanding NFL medical reports and using sports medicine tips will help you think like an NFL GM and give you the X Factor advantage to dominate your fantasy football league week after week.

From Picking Up Cups to Living the NFL Dream

This Sunday’s Jaguars game against the Chicago Bears will be special for me for many reasons.  For starters, it’s my 500th NFL game.  At 49 years old in my 25th NFL season, I have so much to be grateful for.

Growing up in Massachusetts, the New England Patriots were the only team any of my brothers or I would even consider cheering for.  I can still remember the rainy spring day in 1979, during my sophomore year in high school, when I decided to be an athletic trainer to work in the NFL.

Fast forward 15 years……It was the summer of 1984 during my first summer internship for Ronnie Barnes and the New York Giants.  Our first pre-season game was in Foxboro to play the Patriots!  On a side note, although I had been skydiving a couple of times from smaller planes when I was in college, the 25 minute flight to New England was my very first time flying on a “real” airplane.

Walking onto the field for the pre-game warmup was a dream come true.  My job was to carry the Gatorade cups to the bench and I was on Cloud 9 with a huge smile on my face……until I realized that the cup bags were open and I had just left 50 yards of cups trickled all the way to the tunnel!   embarrassed, red-faced and humbled, I made the walk of shame picking up the cups with the rough Boston crowd rightfully belittling me.  I laughed and said out load: “Welcome to the NFL, Mike!”

How many people have the opportunity to get into a dream job which they envisioned when they were 16 years old and then be fortunate enough to make that dream a long-term career?  Not many and I remind themself every day.  I always remind myself:  I’m simply the results of so many that were willing to help me to reach towards my dreams.  I owe it to them and myself to work hard and to help others as they pursue their carrots.

From my caring mother to my loving wife to my supportive family to my athletic training mentors Carl Krein and Ronnie Barnes, they all shared their love, support and wisdom to help me to help others.  I have so many to thank, including the Giants and Jaguars organizations themselves.  I am forever grateful.

Sunday’s game marks another reason to enjoy life.  Three of my dearest lifetime friends, Scott Mackie, Bill Thomson (a Bears fan) and Bob Kelly will be in town for the weekend.  Of my 25 season in the NFL, these friends have come to visit me for a home game for approximately 19 of those seasons.  Having loyal and caring friends like Bob, Bill and Scott is special and their friendship is priceless.

The sports medicine profession is an exciting field and it makes me want to come to work every day.  The friends I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and the happiness I’ve found in the NFL are too many to list.  Although the work is serious, the fun and laughs are plentiful in this energetic environment.  The days may be 12 to 18 hours long but if that’s what it takes to be excited to get out of bed every day, I’ll pick up cups all day long!

Kicking Off the NFL Training Camp

Today is commonly referred to as”Report Day” in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Hotel check-in at 10, medical updates at noon, miscellaneous updates and meetings followed by the big team meeting tonight.  Curfew at 11 and the first practice tomorrow.  It’s an exciting time for players, support staff, coaches and fans alike.

This is the start of my 25th season in the NFL after 3 training camps as a summer intern athletic trainer/physical therapist with the New York Giants.  I have to admit I’m more exited about this 2012 season than I have been for 10 years!  With new ownership, a new Head Coach, more than a dozen new coaches, a new locker room and a new positive approach to winning, I’m not alone with my enthusiasm for the Jaguars in 2012.

From the opportunity that New York Giants Head Athletic Trainer Ronnie Barnes blessed me with in 1984 by offering me the one summer internship with the New York Giants to spending well over ½ of my life employed in the NFL, I’m honored to represent “the shield” of the NFL.  Ronnie remains a close friend and mentor who I respect immensely.

Training camp is the start of so many opportunities for so many people.  From the surprise superstar players’ careers blossoming, to loyal coaches growing as teachers, to hard-working medical staffs taking huge strides in keeping players healthy at an elite level to fans passionately supporting their team, so much good comes out of the start of a professional season.

The Game Plan

I plan on posting a weekly training camp blog with the inside scoop on life within an NFL franchise.  When I live football 24/7 with 90 players and 60+ football staff members, there is no shortage of interesting info to write about.  I will never write about any specific player injuries for obvious reasons.

Questions From You

What do you want to read about from an NFL training camp? 

What “behind the magic curtain” NFL insight would you be interested in learning?

Is there a question that you’ve always had about an NFL team that SportCenter just doesn’t seem to answer?

I’m all ears and I look forward to sharing my life in the NFL with you.  Go Jags!

Stephen Strasburg vs Heat Illness: A Success Story

Ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg left Saturday’s game after the 3rd inning because of heat illness and dehydration.  The 106-degree temperatures in Atlanta were brutal for players and fans alike.

The Washington Nationals’ athletic trainers Lee Kuntz and Mike McGowan did an outstanding job by made the right call to take care of one of the best hurlers in the game.  They recognized the signs of heat illness and they did their job in an admirable fashion.

I applaud Lee Kuntz,ATC and Mike McGowan,ATC for handling this incident the right way.  The management of Strasburg’s heat illness is a powerful example which could, in time, actually save lives of young athletes around the country.  Parents and coaches are always looking for help to properly take care of their future All-Stars in the heat and the Nationals’ medical staff provided a perfect example of how to do it the right way.

Competitive athletics at any level requires dedication and hard work in all types of environmental conditions.  When the temperature rises on the field or on the track, an athlete’s body core temperatures will do the same.  There are a few simple steps to keep an athlete “cool under pressure” to help him/her avoid complications in the heat like Strasburg did this weekend.

Heat illness is a life threatening condition yet it’s a very preventable problem.  Educating the athlete is the first step to taking care of the athletes, young and old.  Replacing an athlete’s fluids including sodium (salt) and electrolytes is the most effective method to keep an athlete safe in any environment.

The responsibility for preventing heat illness needs to be shared by the athletes, the team medical staff members and, when appropriate, the parents of the athletes.

Signs of Heat Illness

Sudden and rapid decrease in sweating

When an athlete who was sweating profusely suddenly stops sweating, it’s a sign that he/she is experiencing serious problems.

Confusion and disorientation

A severely dehydrated athlete can become confused and irritable with rapidly diminishing mental and performance skills.

Nausea, cramping and/or vomiting

With an upset stomach or vomiting, the athlete’s ability to absorb fluids is drastically reduced.  Vomiting obviously produces a rapid loss of fluids, which will accelerate the dehydration process.

Tips to Exercise Safely in a Hot Environment

  1. Any athlete who has demonstrated vomiting and/or diarrhea within the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to participate in exercise within a hot environment.
  2. Question the athletes and his/her family for a history of past heat related problems.
  3. Pre-hydrate the athletes using the Ryan 50/50 Plan – a 50% water/50% Gatorade combo – starting no later than two (2) hours prior to any exercise.
  4. Provide unlimited access to fluids and salty snacks for all players and staff members before, during and after activity.
  5. Provide a cool settings for the “breaks periods” allowing the athletes to get away from direct sunshine, get off their feet, consume cold fluids, be exposed to cooling fans and ice sponges to lower their body core temperatures.
  6. Following exercise, each athlete should continue to implement the Ryan 50/50 Plan – a 50% water/50% Gatorade combo.
  7. Weighing the athletes before and after all workouts in hot environments to determine if the proper amount of fluids were consumed.  A dehydrated athlete should replace at least 120% of his weight lost during exercise.  For example, if a 200 lbs athlete loses 5 lbs. or 2 ½% of his/her body weight, they should replace it with 6 lbs of fluids and healthy foods.

Treating Heat Illness

  1. If an athlete demonstrates dizziness, difficulty breathing, confusion, vomiting, rapid fatigue, excessive sweating or concern for their health, remove the athlete from the sports field and move into a cool environment.
  2. Contact the appropriate medical personnel to assist in the monitoring of the athlete’s symptoms.
  3. Strongly encourage the athlete to continue to consume sports drinks and water while cooling the entire body with cold ice towels and water.
  4. Remove all heavy clothing and gear.  If possible, replace with cooler breathable clothing.
  5. Monitor the athlete to ensure that the symptoms are improving.  If the symptoms continue to worsen, call 911 to implement emergency medical services for possible IV fluid replacement and/or transport.

Keeping the players cool requires preparation and planning to minimize the potential of a serious medical condition.  As the Washington National did with Strasburg on Saturday, removing him from the game was the smart move.  He was immediately placed in a cool setting, encouraged to continue to consume the proper types of fluids, administered 3 liters of IV fluids and forced to rest.  The athlete reported the following day that he felt great and he’s ready to pitch again this week.

As a member of the Corey Stringer Institute Medical & Science Advisory Board, I appreciate the application of sound heat illness management.  As one of the most respected heat management experts in the world, Doug Casa, PhD, ATC, makes a great points when he states that “heat-related illnesses are largely preventable”.

Too often the preventative steps and/or the management steps for an athlete suffering from heat illness are not taken and the results can be deadly.  Having a certified athletic trainer, a medical expert trained to care for athletes exercising in hot conditions, is often the best safety measure for athletes at all levels of athletics.

We need more stories like this one with a happy ending to help all of us learn how to keep athletes healthy and safe.

Appreciating the Gift of Good Health

It didn’t take long before I knew it would be a special day.

This past Sunday morning I lined up to start the 5th running of the Run With Donna 1/2 Marathon in Jacksonville, FL.  It was 29 degrees, windy, still dark and exciting when the 4500+ runners started the dash towards the bridge.  All of us were cold but alive with dreams of a fast race.  My wife and I joined many of our friends for the annual event to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer.

With not many miles logged this year, I focussed on starting the race slower than normal.  As the lead packs crossed over the intercostal bridge, the sun slowly started to rise and I came through the first mile at 7:16, one second slower than I had planned.  That was a great sign for the 12.1 miles to follow.

A smile warmed my face as I floated down J. Butler highway because I knew how lucky I was to be exactly where I was at that moment.  I had just turned 49 years old exactly 1 week earlier and here I was racing side-by-side with young speedsters, many of them less than 1/2 my age.  I loved every minute of it because I knew that these types of athletic experiences are special at any age.

Good health is a gift not to be taken for granted.  We’ve all done it.  Personally, I made a conscious effort to never make that mistake again.  I made a promise to myself  5 years ago to always appreciate my health, each and every day.

My deal with myself has proved to be one of my greatest gifts and I often ask others to make such a pact with themselves: To Truly Appreciate the Gift of Good Health

How Did I Demonstrate my Appreciation for the Gift of Good Health:

  • I thanked those who cheered for the runners.
  • I encouraged (most of) the runners who passed me.
  • I thanked the hundreds of volunteers who handed out drinks and directed the runners.
  • I high-fived fellow runners as we passed each other on the road.
  • I smiled more than I ever have in a race….true that it also helped warm my face as the windchill temperature dipped into the teens.
  • I joked with my fellow runners in the pack as we raced down the beach and through the streets of Jax Beach.
  • I clapped for the many bands that occupied the street corners and perched on the top of the bridge.
  • I laughed and waved at the drunk surfer dudes on the balcony  proudly displaying their “Show Me Your Mammogram” signs.
  • I ran as hard as I could finishing in 20th place overall in 1 hour and 28 minutes to win my age group.  I’ve found that the races that I ran with a grateful heart and a fun-loving attitude usually my most successful races!

The Rewards of Good Health

As a father of two young children and the husband of a loving younger wife, I have so much to live for.  Staying in shape and being physically capable of competing in athletic events is important to me and my family.  God has blessed me and, contrary to what seems to be the norm these days, I’m not afraid to thank God for my blessings in public.

I have many friends who are unable to be as active because of physical ailments so I know how fortunate I am each and every day.  My personal and professional Mission Statement is “To Enhance the Health of Others“.  If I can continue to share my sports medicine expertise with others to allow them to experience the joy of good health in whatever physical endeavors they chose, I know that I can change their lives as well.  That vision is why I created

Can You Help Me?

My goal with is to significantly enhance the health of two-million (2,000,000) people by the end of 2013.  You can help me to help others by sharing my message to others through my website and my Facebook page.  Just think of how rewarding it will be for you to help your friend to quickly eliminate his chronic knee pain or your favorite aunt to reduce her low back pain by 75% in 2 days or to provide a sports medicine resource to your neighbor with no insurance looking for a way to rehab his heel pain!

I know that good health is a gift for today and we all know it’s not guaranteed for tomorrow.  I believed in myself, regardless of my age, and I will continue to focus on enhancing my own fitness and anyone else who sees the quality of their life as a high priority.

Let me show you simple sports medicine tips to help you to do the same.

Taming a Rib Injury []

A lot of Athlete’s have suffered a bruised or broken rib. It is an injury that causes severe pain and is very difficult to play through. It makes it hard for the athlete to breath or catch his/her breath. The only positive sign to this injury is if you can handle the pain it shouldn’t keep you from missing playing time/participating in your sport. Here are some key tips on how to recover from this common injury.

A rib injury seems simple enough….until it’s you with the injury.  An athlete with a bruised or broken rib will commonly describe an injury which is very painful, makes it difficult to play with.

The key to managing a rib injury is to find a safe way to continue to play with the injury.  Jokingly….as long as the athlete’s not breathing, it’s an easy problem.

Tony Romo, starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, is a prefect example of this.  He suffered a bruised rib in the first half of his game earlier this season against the San Francisco 49ers.  He was taken out of the game, only to return in the 4th quarter to lead his team to an impressive victory.

What’s the trick to quickly diagnosing a rib injury and super charging the recovery? has those answers and will show you how to decrease the pain and increase your performance after a rib injury.


Bruised ribs are normally seen due to trauma to the chest region. They are especially common in contact sports and are often a result of sport injuries. However, at times a person may end up with bruised ribs from coughing or violently sneezing. The downside of this kind of injury is that there is little that can be done to hasten the healing process, as the ribs continuously move as we breathe. However, there are some simple ways of dealing with bruised ribs.

Bruised Ribs Symptoms

There are many bruised rib symptoms which will help you in diagnosing this condition. They are:

  • Tenderness close to the traumatized area. This tenderness and pain may be aggravated on coughing and laughing.
  • When the ribs are bruised, then there may be some bruising outwardly visible as well. So, the skin may appear blue in color over the affected region. It may otherwise also be red and slightly swollen. Read more on rib swelling.
  • Due to the pain, you may have a tendency to take small short breaths, leading to shortness of breath.

Bruised Ribs Diagnosis

The diagnosis for a bruised rib can be done on the basis of many factors, like the symptoms and with the help of radiological examinations. If you have had a recent trauma in the chest region and there is some redness and swelling present, along with severe tenderness, then a bruised ribs diagnosis can be reached. However, for a final diagnosis, the help of an X-ray may be taken.

Bruised Ribs Treatment

Injured ribs can be quite painful to deal with. This is because, unlike the arm or the legs, the ribs cannot be immobilized as they constantly move when we breathe. This further adds to the pain and discomfort. This also increases the bruised ribs healing time. You can take some pain relievers to deal with the discomfort and pain. However, the best bruised ribs treatment consists of taking adequate bed rest and applying ice to the affected region of the chest. This helps to prevent any swelling also from occurring. However, do not apply the ice directly on the abdominal region.

Prevent any kind of further trauma to the region by covering the affected region, as any kind of trauma will only aggravate the injury and further delay healing. Be sure to not engage in any kind of strenuous physical activity immediately after recovery. This is because any kind of recurrence of sporting injury can lead to severe pain and relapse. Limit the amount of stretching and bending at least for the first 24 to 72 hours. There are high chances of catching a severe respiratory infection like pneumonia when you have a bruised rib. So it is best to take certain precautions in such cases, like prophylactic antibiotics to prevent a bout any such infection. You can also try and perform some deep breathing exercises, which will help to not only decrease the pain but will also help in healing. Read more on broken rib treatment.

Bruised ribs shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is because if one tends to ignore a bruised rib and continues with his normal physical routine, then he could aggravate the injury. Furthermore, at times, if the ribs are cracked, then they could point inwardly and end up puncturing the lungs, leading to severe repercussions. Hence, it is best to take such cases seriously and diagnose and treat the condition at the earliest. But like they say, prevention is better than cure, so when playing any kind of physically demanding contact sport, it is best to wear appropriate protective gear, so as to prevent the chances of sustaining a chest injury and landing with bruised ribs.

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