Tag: sports injury

Dancers: Athletes or Artists?

Throughout history, there has been a long-standing debate about whether dancers should be classified as athletes or artists. Athletes need strength to be proficient in a sport. Artists require creativity to produce works of art. Dancers combine strength with artistry to not only leap high into the air but also look graceful as they do so. Yet, many people still refuse to classify dancers as athletes or even as athletic artists.

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Knee Pain from Golf? Look No Further.

If you like golf, you probably remember watching Tiger Woods win the 2008 U.S. Open with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This may have seemed like a rare injury for a golfer, as most golf-related injuries involve the lower back, but knee injuries due to the golf swing are more common than you may think. In fact, the prevalence of knee injuries in golf is roughly 18%, with an even higher percentage when you only consider the elderly. Since most of these injuries are a result of overuse, it is important for golfers to understand why these injuries occur if they want to keep playing for years to come.

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Unlike traumatic injuries in high-intensity sports like football or basketball, most golf-related injuries are the result of overuse. As for the knee joint, there are multiple mechanical factors in the golf swing that contribute to overuse injuries. During the downswing, the lead knee rotates rapidly from a state of adduction (external rotation) to a state of abduction (internal rotation). This creates an abduction moment on the lead knee, which can cause ACL tears. The graph shows a plot of adduction/abduction moments on the knees during a golf swing, which was measured using force plates and retroreflective markers on golfers’ legs.

skeletal diagram of how the hip and knee joints move
Photo via Musculoskeletal Key
Graph of Adduction/Abduction Moment (Nm/kg) as a function of time for both knees during the golf swing.
Graph by Kim, et al.

The magnitude (roughly 1 Nm/kg) is not large enough to cause traumatic stress on the ACL but is enough to potentially cause an injury over many repetitions of the golf swing. In addition to rapid rotation, the lead leg undergoes rapid extension during the downswing. The combination of these movements in large volumes over time can lead to other ligament tears or osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when tissues in the joint break down over time.

In addition to these biomechanical movements, other factors like pre-existing knee conditions play a significant role in golf-related injuries. Over 30% of golfers with previous knee pain feel that golf has made their symptoms worse. The same is true for golfers with a previous total-knee arthroscopy (TKA), as nearly 34.9% experience pain after playing. Considering that golf is very popular among the older population, it is important to understand how to limit the risk of injury in the golf swing.

While the golf swing can lead to overuse injuries, there are a few preventative methods golfers can implement to protect their knees. Several studies recommend that golfers rotate their lead foot open (towards the target) by roughly 30 degrees. This decreases the stress on the medial (inner) side of the knee, a common area for osteoarthritis. Another adjustment golfers can make in their setup is how close/far they stand from the golf ball during the swing. Standing closer to the ball lowers the peak abduction moment on the lead knee, while standing farther away reduces the peak adduction moment. Depending on which area of your knee is in pain or has experienced previous injury, you may want to implement these adjustments to your setup. If you are experiencing pain on the inside of your knee, you should stand closer to the ball. Conversely, if your pain is on the outside of your knee, you should stand further away from the ball. Other preventative methods include warm-up stretching and regular exercise to activate and loosen the knee joint and surrounding muscles. If you’d like to learn more about these preventative methods, click here.

Bend it like Beckham?: Genu Varum (Bow Leg) in Soccer Players

Soccer, or football for those outside of the United States of America, is the most popular sport in the world, and its popularity is only rising. In the United States, although soccer is not the most popular sport, it is growing rapidly. Part of the reason behind this growth, around 20% American parents think soccer to be a safer sport for their children to play compared to American football. However, soccer players still suffer injuries.

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You’re En Pointe! Biomechanics and Ankle Injury Risk in Ballet Dancers

Dancing in pointe shoes raises the risk of injury for female ballerinas. Complex balletic movements require elevated muscular efforts and can put excessive stress loads on the ankle bones. Not many biomechanical studies focus on ballet, even as findings could contribute to decreased injury risk for dancers. A number of factors, such as ground reaction forces, ankle sway, and shoe flexibility can affect a dancer’s injury risk. But which factors contribute most? 

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Let Kids Be Kids: The Unnecessary Dangers of Youth Sports Specialization

The allure of athletic success is hard to ignore in today’s society. The opportunities, notoriety, and wealth that come along with prowess in a particular sport are certainly enticing and have contributed to a growing trend towards youth sports specialization, where athletes focus on one sport from a very young age. And while the work ethic of these young athletes is admirable, their reasoning and that of their parents is a bit flawed.

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Why is heading the ball so dangerous for youth soccer players?

I received my first concussion while playing soccer at 15 when I was knocked out by a ball that was “accidentally” punted directly into the side of the head. It seemed to me like this was one of the few, rare ways to get a concussion from the sport – an unlikely occurrence combined with an unusually aggressive impact.

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The Dangers of Using Your Head: The Biomechanics of Sports-Related Concussions

Anyone that has ever had the misfortune of banging their head know how painful it can be, but does everyone understand just how dangerous it can be? Concussions occur when the brain hits the interior walls of the skull, either due to a direct blow or a sudden start or stop. These brain injuries most often result in confusion, headaches, and loss of memory but more severe injuries can cause vomiting, blurry vision, and loss of consciousness. In rare instances, they can even cause a brain bleed and result in death. Repeated concussions can lead to neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric changes later in life as well as increase a person’s risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Oops I Did It Again: The Biomechanics Behind Repetitive Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries – either sprains or fractures – are one of the most common sports traumas plaguing the US today. Sprains are overextensions or tears in ligaments.  Fractures, on the other hand, are broken bones.

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Work Smarter Not Harder!

We have all likely heard the saying, “Work smarter not harder.” While this is generally referenced in an academic setting, it is also very applicable in athletics! One of the benefits to being a runner is that it’s a sport people can participate in at any age and nearly anywhere. Unfortunately, however, anywhere from 65-80% of runners get injured in a given year. A large portion of these injuries are related to overuse.

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Rock on, Dude!

In the rock climbing world, there is not much that people fear more than the sound of a “pop” coming from their fingers. That sound means months of rehab and can keep you off the rock for up to six months. But what exactly is happening when you hear that dreaded sound? The fingers are so small, how can one injury to the fingers be so devastating? Let’s dive in.

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