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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Female Athlete - Their Why

The why.  This is extremely important to all who participate in sport.  It is what gives athletes their drive and purpose.  They why can change from beginning to end but performance can be effected if it is not truly from within.  With the female athlete, their reasons to start participation vary especially from their male counterparts.

Friends are one of the greatest reasons for females to start sport participation.  The adage if your friends jumped off a bridge would you?  Holds true in this case.  Many young female athletes either start participating in sport as a group of friends or because their friends are already involved.  Compared to their male counterparts females are not inclined to join a sport group or team by themselves.  They also are more likely to quit if they no longer have friends at sport or if they become bullied in any way.

Both male and female athletes feel a lot of pressure from family to participate, the female athlete however more so.  Females see it as a sense of duty to their family to participate, whether they are happy or not.

Females will choose to participate in sport as a means of exercise and weight loss, especially as they grow older.  This is one of the main reasons for females past their teenage years to restart or start participation in sport.

Another difference between males and females is the desire to compete.  Females will continue in sport participation not due to the competitive drive of beating their opponents but the internal drive of accomplishing the task and improving themselves.  This is one of the main points that keep females involved.  They want to continually improve themselves.  The sense of accomplishment over weighs that of besting their opponent if there is one.

One thing that everyone involved with female athletes needs to keep in mind is that their is a higher drop out rate compared to males.  We need to remove boundaries that interfere with female participation in sport.  Be it gender biases, the emphasis on the body or sport stereotypes, we need to encourage females to participate in sport.

Monday, 16 December 2013

What is an Athletic Therapist?

I am pretty sure when I told my parents I was going to be an Athletic Therapist my dad had a heart attack.  He had no clue what it was but was pretty sure he didn't want his baby girl being one.  Since that moment I have spent a major part of my life explaining what it is I do and what an Athletic Therapist is, even to those who think they know.

So what is an Athletic Therapist?  Well we are health care professionals who are trained in the areas prevention, immediate care and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries.  We work with athletes from the young hockey player and the weekend warrior to the professional and Olympic level athletes.  No matter the level or sport we are there.  Be it at the rink, field, court, studio, gym or clinic we want to support athletes in achieving their goals.  Not only do we treat athletes we can work with general public helping them overcome injuries that they receive either at work or home.

So what do we do?  Everything.  We can help with equipment, tape any joint you prefer, assess your injury on site and rehab you from there to return to play.  We are the first ones there and the last ones to leave.  The best analogy I have heard to describe us is "mom".  We know when our athletes are hurt before they do, if they are having a bad day and how to fix it.

My daughter says I fix football players owies by putting bandaids on them.  My husband laughs because I love the smell of a hockey rink.  I can fix anything with a roll of athletic tape, and hate being called "trainer".  I have slept on treatment tables, numerous buses and even bags of equipment.  The long hours, endless bus rides are worth it.  Being able make a difference in my athletes lives is worth it, because that is what we do.  

For more information on what Certified Athletic Therapists can do please check out and

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Intro to the Female Athlete

The female is a complex being turn that female into an athlete and you have made her even more complex. The female athlete provides many challenges to the coach, parent and athletic therapist.  To fully understand the female athlete will take more than this one post.  Today will be an overview of future topics and if you feel I am missing one or want me to talk about something specifically let me know as not all athletes are the same.

Female Athlete Triad, simply it is the combination of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis.  It is a vicious cycle that starts with disordered eating and progresses.  No sport is exempt from this as it is typically seen as an aesthetic or performance sport issue.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprains, this ligament helps prevent anterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur.  In more simplified terms it stops the lower leg from moving forward compared to the upper leg.

Disordered Eating,  detrimental effects on energy levels do not require an athlete to have a diagnosed eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, the slightest change in energy intake for the athletes energy output will place unnecessary strain on their body.

Physical characteristics, the differences between males and females can predispose females to injuries that their male counterparts may not experience.  These characteristics may also predispose the athlete as to what sport or position they may participate in.

Why the participate?  The reason for female participate in sport varies depending on the individual however there are some constants.  Friend participation both effects the reason to start sport participation as well as when females decide to no longer be involved.

One of the new areas of study on the female athlete is in the area of concussions.  Still in its infancy we are learning a great deal about how females react to a concussive injury and if there is differences from their male counterparts.

As a parent or coach it is important to understand how to deal with the female athlete.  Learning how to deal with them will give both you and them an advantage on their path to success.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Surviving the Holidays

"Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise"  Yep maybe the Grinch had it right this whole holiday season is just crazy.  With the hustle and bustle, the parties, cookie exchanges (don't worry we will talk about that next week), the shopping and the fact that every year the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHH.   Can we just put the whole thing on hold for just a minute, I think I am going to go insane.

So where to start, how do we survive the holidays.  Quite simply just let it happen.  Don't worry if the tree isn't perfect, or the kids made a mess decorating cookies.  That is the joy of Christmas.  When I was growing up we always had real trees, I mean Charlie Brown trees.  For years I wanted Dad to pick up the big bushy, full trees like you see on TV.  So one year he did, it just wasn't right.  It was too perfect.

Go with the flow.  Yes the kids are going to go absolutely berserk.  This year we have a 3 year old and our baby will be celebrating his first Christmas, and the 3 year old has figured what this is all about.  She discovered the Wish Book this year and can't wait to tell Santa what she wants.  I'm not sure if she will make it to Christmas and I am not sure if my tree (yes my, the tree is mine, my baby, I decorate it, I sit by it, I love it) will make it through the 11 month old.

Take time for yourself.  Each day, do something for you.  Take a yoga class.  Enjoy a glass of wine and some cookies.  Take a walk in the snow, enjoy the beauty around you.  I enjoy sitting alone, staring at my tree.  That is my down time, my time to regroup.  Tonight, involves my decorated house, Garth Brooks Live
(I love PVR), and work.  For me getting time to share with everyone how to keep their families safe, gives me joy.  Find a way to get your joy.

Enjoy it. Enjoy your family and friends.  The dressing up for parties, the shopping, and cooking.  The joy on kids faces when they see Santa, or when what they asked for is under the tree.  Enjoy spending time with people you don't get to see all the time be it family or friends.  Just enjoy it.

Don't sweat the small stuff or the big stuff.  Find time to enjoy what is going on around you.  Don't forget your daytimer, because you are going to need it and I hope to see you on the other side.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Fighting the Cold

As the temperature keeps dropping, we all need to be aware of cold injury.  Cold injury falls under two categories, localized and systemic.

Localized cold injury involves two main types, frost nip and frost bite as well as chilblains.  Frost nip is the most mild form and typically happens to the nose, ears, hands and feet.  This is most common when outside with out protection.  Frost bite also occurs from exposure to freezing temperatures but is more severe than frost nip.  The area effected will at first be painful and progress to numbness.  The skin will appear white and waxy.  Chilblains are caused by exposure to non freezing temperatures and dampness.  The person will have lesions that are red and raised, they may reoccur over time.

Hypothermia is when the body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius and is also called systemic cold injury.  There are two categories, primary caused by exposure to severe cold temperatures and inadequate clothing and secondary which is predisposed by illness.  Someone with mild hypothermia will display the following symptoms; shivering, fast breathing, trouble speaking, confusion, lack of coordination, fatigue, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.  Severe systemic cold injury displays as follows; shivering, lack of coordination, slurred speech, stumbling and lack of coordination, confusion and poor decision making, drowsiness, apathy towards their situation, progressive loss of consciousnesses, weak pulse and slow, shallow breathing.

As with most injuries prevention is the first step of treatment.  Pay attention to weather forecasts,  especially if it involves a wind chill.  The chance of frost bite increases as the windchill drops below -27 Celsius.  Wear warm layers, keep dry and keep moving, but avoid overexertion.

If a localized cold injury occurs you should do the following treatments for frost nip, gentle rewarming by putting the effected area under the armpits is most successful.  For frost bite removal from the cold is critical, place the person in warmth and have them transported to a hospital.  Never rub the effected area as this can cause further tissue damage.  For chilblains should be rewarmed and the skin needs to be kept lubricated.

If someone is suffering from hypothermia be gentle when moving or touching them.  Remove the person out of the cold and remove any wet clothing.  Gently warm with person with blankets, shared body heat or dry warm compresses. Do NOT apply direct heat such as water, heat packs or heat lamps.  Monitor breathing and contact emergency medical services.

Staying warm and dry is the key preventing cold injuries.  Monitor the conditions and the time that you are outside.